Strengthen cybersecurity through pentesting

IT infrastructures and attack methods are fast-moving. How effective are my existing security measures? Are they still sufficient or are my systems at risk? Automated pen testing helps to regularly put your own cyber security to the test and to identify weaknesses in good time.


The cybercrime business is booming. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office’s “Bundeslagebild Cybercrime 2021”, the monetary damage caused by ransomware was estimated at 24.3 billion euros in 2021. But that’s not all: According to the BKA, 2021 was marked by blatant attacks on critical infrastructure, public administration and international supply chains. As a result, the functionality of the community is now also affected by ransomware. (centron reported: BKA: ransomware is affecting communities)

New variants of malware are circulating faster and faster. The hackers rely on scalable attack strategies in order to reach as many victims as possible. Less experienced cybercriminals can acquire modular malware on the dark web and thus carry out devastating attacks comparatively easily.

The stronger the attacks, the stronger the security measures should be. In order to keep up with the times, companies have to continuously review and consistently strengthen their cyber security. Penetration testing (short: pentesting) can help. More specifically, automated pentesting enables you to integrate security checks into your IT security strategy as a recurring process at low cost.


Penetration testing

In pentesting, you look at your own cybersecurity from the perspective of the attacker. As a result, attempts are made to crack their own security mechanisms using current hacking methods. Companies can thus test their measures without risk and close the discovered vulnerabilities in good time before real attackers can exploit them.


Automated Pentesting

Pentesting not only sounds complex and expensive, it is. At least if you do it manually. Especially when you consider that security checks of this kind are regularly necessary nowadays and should not only be carried out once a year, manual pentesting is associated with an enormous amount of time and money.

Fortunately, however, it is not only malware that is being developed in a highly dynamic manner: Thanks to modern software solutions, pen tests can now be carried out largely automatically. In this way, effort and costs can be significantly reduced. Results are usually available after 48 hours, the automated tests are reproducible and comparable. Manual pentesting is then only necessary in special cases.

Automated pentesting can be operated by yourself without a great deal of personnel effort. The software can usually be installed and set up quickly. However, what can be a challenge is evaluating the results. Here it can be advantageous to call in specialists for help.


White box, gray box or black box?

There are basically three different approaches to penetration testing.

The white box pentest is a kind of audit in which the complete system documentation is open. This approach can be used, for example, to check compliance with regulations.

The black box pentest runs like a real hacking attack: The attacker does not yet know anything about the target environment, they have to obtain all the information themselves.

In the case of the grey box pentest (also: what-if tests), on the other hand, some key points are known so that specific scenarios can be simulated. For example, how far can an attacker get who was able to spy on the access data of a senior employee?

As a rule, it is advisable to start with a black box pen test and initially let the security systems attack without assistance. Provided that the security measures withstand these attempts at attack, one can then proceed to gray box pen tests. Both procedures can also be carried out automatically.


External and internal pen tests

In addition to the type of penetration testing, a basic distinction can also be made between external and internal pen tests. As the names already suggest, external pen tests check how easily the respective systems can be attacked from the outside. Internal pen tests, on the other hand, are used to examine what damage hackers can cause if they are already within the network in question, for example because they were able to gain access through a successful phishing attack.

Source: Dennis Fröhlich (Axians IT Security)