There is a term you hear in some circles called “invasive technology.” It’s a catchall that has many uses, and it has both positive and negative connotations.
Some people use it when they’re talking about things like privacy issues. They most often mean tracking chips in phones or website cookies that monitor someone’s online behavior to compile a profile for commercial reasons.
These trends are troubling, but there are also so-called invasive technology ventures that can help both businesses and private citizens. The penetration test is one of the better available examples.
Let’s take a look at what penetration testing is and what it can do for many business entities to keep them safe from hackers and other malicious individuals.
How Does Penetration Testing Work?
There are many companies now that do penetration testing. These are web security outfits that offer different services, but they often start with a penetration test because they want to discover your computer network vulnerabilities.
Some penetration testing companies describe what they do like military war games. They’re trying to create a simulated hacker attack in the same way that war games test military preparedness. In a way, it’s fun for everyone involved, but there’s nothing amusing about a hacker attack, and ultimately, you employ a penetration testing company for preventative measures.
During the test, a specialist, or more than one, will try to breach the web security measures you have in place. They’ll look at things like your passwords, firewalls, and various entry points. They’re trying to see if they can compromise network features in the same way a determined hacker would.
Is All This Really Necessary?
Some businesses might think this seems like a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff. They might ask how likely it is that a hacker will actually come after them. They might have a small, mom-and-pop eCommerce business model, or maybe they have half a dozen remote workers who log onto their network from various locations.
As it turns out, even small businesses can make tempting hacker targets. It’s not even always clear why that is. When one looks at why hackers do what they do, sometimes the reason is simply that they can.
Other times, a hacker will attack your network for purely financial purposes. They may want to get in to steal your proprietary secrets. They might attempt to sell these to a competitor.
They may try to steal your vital employee data for identity theft purposes. It’s likely you have your employees’ full names on your network, as well as their social security numbers, phone numbers, home addresses, and bank account routing numbers if you do direct deposit.
How Does a Penetration Test Work?
When you think about all this, it’s easy to see why you’ll want to do a penetration test periodically. You might use the same company every time if they do a good job for you. They can come back to test your network’s strength every six months or once per year.
There are various penetration test features that you might include in your assessment. You might get an external or internal penetration test. You might order a wireless test or do some vulnerability scanning.
The companies that do these tests pride themselves on using the latest technology, because rest assured, hackers will have access to it. Often, it’s hackers that are the most innovative individuals.
Penetration testing companies sometimes call what they do ethical hacking. They employ individuals who have particular skill sets, but they want to dedicate themselves to good rather than dishonest means.
The Typical Test
When a test begins, the company you selected will usually define its test goals and gather intelligence. They’ll use scanning tools to understand how your network responds to potential hacker probing. They will then attack your network to see if it can defend itself adequately or whether any obvious weaknesses emerge.
In the end, they give you a detailed report, and they’ll also offer you some recommendations if they found a way to compromise your security measures. Some of them can also fix the issues they find themselves, while others require you to hire IT specialists to handle your network repairs.
This is invasive technology used for ethical purposes, and it’s fascinating to watch. As a business entity, every time you hire one of these companies, you want to deny them access. Still, it’s also incredible watching these highly-skilled individuals attempt to use technology against itself.