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Here’s Why Small Businesses Need Pentesting
Written by:
Alisha Widianti

As a small-medium sized business (SMB), this is a question we all can relate to. “Do you really need penetration testing?” The truth is, SMBs experienced 699 cybersecurity incidents compared to the 496 of larger businesses, which means that SMBs are more likely to experience cybersecurity attacks compared to enterprises , according to the 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report conducted by Verizon. This could be because of limited resources, causing lower cybersecurity defenses. 

At the end of the day, in the face of data breaches and widespread cyber attack, it’s dangerous not to implement a penetration testing process, including for small businesses. In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s vital to conduct penetration tests, and how penetration testing benefits small businesses. 

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing sounds like a daunting phrase at first. To put it simply, penetration testing, or ‘pen test’ or ‘ethical hacking’ for short, is a simulated form of cyber attack performed on your systems by an ethical hacker. The purpose is to discover any security vulnerabilities within your systems that a criminal hacker could exploit for malicious purposes.

Penetration testers use the same methods as criminal hackers, replicating their approach as closely as possible. By doing so, organizations can see their systems in the same way an attacker would – identifying vulnerabilities and the ways in which they are leveraged.

After the pentest, the ethical hacker creates a report advising the organization on the steps it can take to improve its defenses and prevent cyber attacks.

What Are The Different Types Of Pentesting? 

There’s two common forms of pentesting: Black-box pentesting and White-box pentesting. 

Blackbox pentesting tests your systems’ security like an external hacker. The external hacker doesn’t have internal knowledge of your systems, including architecture diagrams or not publicly available source code. The results of a black-box pentest determines the system’s vulnerabilities that can be exploited from outside the network. 

White-box testing goes by several different names, including clear-box, open-box, auxiliary and logic-driven testing. It falls on the opposite end of the spectrum from black-box testing: penetration testers are given full access to source code, architecture documentation and so forth. The main challenge with white-box testing is looking through the massive amount of data available to identify potential points of weakness, making it the most time-consuming type of penetration testing. Even so, white-box pen testing helps ensure your systems are robust and maintainable. 

Why Is Pentesting Important? 

There’s plenty of reasons why pentesting is important to small businesses. Let’s summarize them to four reasons: 

1. Enhanced security

According to security technologist Bruce Schneier, the goal of penetration testing is “protection, detection and response—and you need all three to have good security.” 

Through proper pentesting, pentesters can find a wide-range of vulnerabilities in your systems that you may never have thought to look for. It’s important to keep in mind that since pentesters are putting themselves in a hacker’s position, they can demonstrate what a bad actor could possibly do to your business. 

As a result, you’ll be able to see where weaknesses lie in your digital systems and the strengths of your digital systems. Afterwards, you can respond with heightened protective measures around your system’s biggest assets and most threatening vulnerabilities. 

2. Valuable, personalized insights to your systems

Compared to the automatically-generated reports from online vulnerability tests or assessments, pentesting reports done by professional pentesters can offer more in-depth, personalized insights about your network, its weaknesses, and recommendations to strengthen your IT systems. 

The pentest report may include the ranking of risks, based on its severity, and actionable plans aligned with your business goals, objectives, and resources, which accounts for the specifics of your systems. 

3. Regulatory compliance 

Just because you’re a small business, it doesn’t exempt you from the compliance regulations that enterprises are expected to meet. If your company collects credit card information, health information, personal information, or is a service provider, you likely have some compliance requirements that you need to meet. It’s important to remember that as your company grows, you’ll be bound to meet certain security regulations and compliances. 

Practicing security best practices policies including regulated pentesting, as your company grows, will save you loads of time and resources 5, 10 years down the line. Regular pentesting demonstrates your businesses’ true commitment to the security of your digital systems to your customers, and to your industry. Most importantly, performing regular pentesting helps to avoid potential fines, consequences that come with non-compliance, or financial losses that can result from a cyber attack when pentesting wasn’t required. 

4. Establishing trust

Pentesting may be required for your current or future clients. If your company offers a service to a large enterprise client, they’d want to ensure your security is sound and robust, as your client is placing their entire firm and reputation on the line. It’s not uncommon to hear large enterprises encountering data breaches because of their third-party vendors.

Take, for instance, Target’s large data breach in 2013, which exposed 70 million customers' personal information. The breach had occurred through a third party vendor that Target utilized. Despite this, it was Target’s company reputation that suffered in the eyes of the public, not the vendor. It’s imperative to be prepared when your potential clients inquire about your security measures. Having this information readily available to them demonstrates that you have a mature security program in place. 

When your client does ask, it’s better to have your reports at hand, instead of starting the process then. Why is that so? Conducting penetration testing proactively, rather than reactively upon request, showcases your business’ commitment to security. Conducting multiple rounds of penetration testing over time results in diminishing vulnerabilities, as you improve your IT systems gradually over time, which makes the latest pentest reports more favorable.

How We Can Help You With Pentesting

If you’ve decided that you’re ready to implement penetration testing into your business’ cybersecurity practices, Tokyo Techies can help conduct and create a pentest strategy unique to your needs!  

Tokyo Techies provides comprehensive cybersecurity services, beyond just pentesting, including cloud architecture design and incident response. With our proven track record and industry certifications, our team is ready to help you with all your cyber security concerns. You can read more details on our cybersecurity offerings here

Reach out to us today for a free consultation to explore how our tailored pentesting services, along with other cybersecurity solutions, can help your organization address your cybersecurity challenges!

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