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It is a key tenet of cyber-security that if a Client does not know that there is a problem, they will not be able to solve it. Penetration testing (also known as ‘ethical hacking’) is designed to carry out a ‘dry run’ of a hacking or compromising attack and identify vulnerabilities and flaws existing in company systems before they can be capitalised upon by genuine bad actors.
A penetration test into Advanced Persistent Threats is essentially a simulated attack against the Client using the same methodologies and strategies as those used by cyber-criminals, and comes in many forms. A ‘white box’ test gives the Pen Tester advanced knowledge of all systems so that each may be thoroughly tested against a bespoke program; a ‘black box’ test on the other hand, starts the Pen Tester from zero and allows them to create the specific journey of a hacker finding their way into the vulnerabilities without knowing what they will find.
Whether white- or black-box, penetration tests can also be enacted with specific reference to breaching a Client’s critical infrastructure, compromising Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) plants, plotting a path to the (simulated) theft of very particular data, or via a social engineering ‘phishing audit’ to explore the faultlines in employees (who, with little training on how to spot fraudulent emails or in their ignorance of following best-practice directives, are often the biggest security risk in any company).
A wider footprint must be considered as well: examining the security of wireless networks which present an invisible and overlooked attack route into the core of an organisation entirely remotely, or web applications and client portals that provide a backdoor for determined attackers.
Penetration tests collectively serve to allow the Client to see itself through the eyes of the bad actors, so to speak – understanding, in real-time, the success and reach of a range of cyber-attacks and being able to understand where their weaknesses lie before the damage can be done. KCS Group’s Clients from the legal, gaming, automotive and industrial sectors have all used penetration tests to get advanced warning of their own vulnerabilities – and a greater confidence in how to solve these.