Thorough penetration testing involves social engineering, vulnerability scanning, and the manual hacking of computer systems, networks, and web applications.
Several regulatory compliances and standards recommend and/or REQUIRE pen tests. Some examples include PCI, SOX, HIPAA, GLBA, FISMA, NIST, DFARS etc. PCI-DSS regulations mandate both an annual and ongoing penetration testing after any system changes. SOX and HIPAA also require an annual penetration test. Similar provisions are requested by data protection standards such as GLBA, FISMA, and OWASP. Standards such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and ISO 27001 also have pen testing in their guidelines. Any companies working with customers and/or third parties in the EU must comply with the GDPR which recommends regular testing to assess the resilience of applications and critical infrastructure. Noncompliance with these and several others could result in unwanted fines or penalties. Penetration tests, therefore, help comply with regulatory bodies.
Even if your company isn’t required to follow any government or industry cybersecurity requirements, you should still work towards maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture. Regular penetration testing is necessary to achieve this. It is important to understand the liability you have if your network were to be breached so you can formulate a proper security plan for your organization. Insights provided by the penetration test can be used to fine tune your security policies and remediate detected vulnerabilities.