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How does Pentesting fit into your overall security strategy?

 |  HackerOne

Digital transformation has proven that every business is now a software business. In fact, using digital technology to create new business methods, ideas, and experiences has become the gold standard for all industries. And for many organizations, digital transformation is no longer optional. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and government organizations must allow employees to work from home, migrate more data to the cloud, run on non-corporate networks, and more.

As digital technologies and data transform the way business gets done, a cybersecurity strategy is fundamental in helping your company save time and money while protecting your brand. To keep your customers and data safe, you must do two things. First, take a proactive approach to security instead of attempting to react to every new threat, which is time-consuming, expensive, and impossible. Threats are dynamic, so your security strategy from 6 months ago is likely outdated.

Second, make continuous testing an integral part of your software development lifecycle. This is where crowdsourced penetration testing can help. Effective crowdsourced pentesting requires the ability to scale and the velocity to detect new threats. However, pentesting is not effective unless it is weaved into a broader security framework. But how should organizations think about penetration testing within their overall security strategy?

Make Pentesting One Part of Your Security Transformation
Penetration testing is great at evaluating the efficacy of your security system’s security defenses. Nevertheless, too many organizations are treating penetration testing as though it is the beginning and the end of the story. Pentesting is a tool, not a strategy. Although they are valuable, pentests are only useful if the results are translated into an effective overall security strategy.

Move Beyond Traditional Pentesting Solutions
In the traditional model, a product is developed, and then a security assessment is conducted to check for vulnerabilities. The issues are usually fixed with patching software, but this turns out to be much more costly than addressing the real issue. If issues are fixed during the software development process, much of the costs can be reduced by avoiding multiple cycles of testing–patching–retesting the software at the end. This is especially in a world where the speed of software development has accelerated far beyond the capacity of conventional testing.

Let’s consider the key elements required in your strategy.

Establish Your Priorities
First, determine what you have to protect. While you cannot protect everything 100%, you can prioritize mission-critical assets. Organizations must first identify the assets that, if compromised, would cause major damage to the business. There are broad classifications of information that organizations may consider as their crown jewels, such as competitive and legal information, personally identifiable information (PII), and data from daily operations, to name a few.

Don’t Neglect the Basics
One of the least expensive ways to maximize security and minimize costs is to focus on basic blocking and tackling, which far too many organizations neglect. For example, penetration testing is a valuable approach to assess an organization’s exposure to threats and vulnerabilities, as well as to meet regulatory requirements. Pentesting is ideally a preventative measure to help harden applications and systems. Remediation following a penetration test will hinder threat actors’ attempts to tamper with the confidentiality, availability, or integrity of data. 

Including regular penetration testing in your ongoing cybersecurity program is the best approach to proactive security, yet organizations often aim to meet only the minimum requirements for compliance – and believe themselves to be secure. This is a dangerous mindset. In fact, when combined with a bug bounty program, pentests provide continuous security testing that allows companies to prevent cyber attacks, theft of data, and abuse.

Secure Universal Buy-In For Security
Sustainable security culture requires that everyone in the organization is all in. Security belongs to everyone, from the executive staff to the lobby ambassadors. If everyone owns a piece of the company’s security solution and security culture, you can build a model where risks are shared and where teams across the company can scale.
 
Connect Cybersecurity to Business Goals
PwC’s 21st Global CEO Survey found that 87% of global CEOs are investing in cybersecurity to build trust with customers. If the lifeblood of the digital economy is data, its heart is digital trust. Organizations with a sound security strategy can turn security into a strategic differentiator for their brand.

An effective cybersecurity strategy must be adaptive
Securing the enterprise is getting harder and harder. Infrastructure is rapidly becoming virtual, applications and workloads are moving to the cloud, endpoints are largely the property of the worker, and mobility is now the norm. As businesses quickly become digital organizations, reliance on IT is at an all-time high. It’s easy to see why a security breach today is more damaging than it would have been just a few years ago. Your attack surface is exponentially larger today, and it will continue to grow at that rate. No matter how much companies invest in new security tools and technology, it is the human factor that will win the war. This human element brings creativity, experience and scalability unmatched by other tools and methods.

The best practice approach for security teams is to color outside of the lines by infusing new and independent thinking. Security teams want to enhance security efficacy, improve operational efficiency, and deliver IT business initiatives, but the majority are stuck in old processes using tooling that fails to surface anomalies. Hacker-powered penetration testing is more than a scan, and definitely more than a tick-the-boxes compliance requirement. By developing a cybersecurity program that employs an agile approach, organizations can prioritize flexibility and make rapid changes. Hacker-powered security enables organizations to rely on an army of over 700,000 experienced, specialized hackers to work around the clock to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and applications, and conduct pentests for both regulatory compliance and customer assessments. There are many benefits to this approach, including: 

- Ongoing, improved security cybersecurity that remains front-of-mind for all employees 

- Knowledge transfer in security best practice to your organization’s IT security team and application code developers – reduced future remediation work

- Leverage good security practices (including any compliance) as a competitive advantage

- Respond quickly to future changes in both compliance requirements and cyberthreats

- Position yourself to successfully manage a security breach

Remember—penetration tests are valuable as a reference point, but only if the results are properly translated into an effective overall security strategy. 

Get Results That Matter
Here at HackerOne, we recognize that organizations experiencing a digital transformation must also transform their security strategy. The old way of thinking about security will no longer work. We believe platforms can empower organizations to manage their security programs, including their pentests -- the same way CRM systems manage customers. It’s easier to track and control a pentest program when it provides clear reporting, integrates into current workflows, and gives you visibility into the remediation process. Armed with context surrounding their penetration tests, your teams can help drive prioritizations, identify gaps, and double down efforts. The depth and quality of your results -- relative to their cost -- deliver unparalleled value.

HackerOne makes it easy to put the talent of a global army of hackers to work supporting your security goals. To learn more, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on June 24 where Sumo Logic and Dropbox discuss how pentesting fits into their holistic security strategies https://www.hackerone.com/events/2020/pentest-webinar.