In light of several recent hacking scandals, it has become obvious that many companies are not keeping their information as secure as they should be. It is important to discuss online security in more depth so that more people can learn the why and the how of effective security practices.
Judging by data breach statistic reports, there are more and more instances of cyber security attacks every year, and even though most of these are effectively dealt with, there is still a significant number of attacks that end up causing a large amount of damage to companies. An attack like this can result in:
- Damage dealt to your reputation
- Time and money spent on remedying the problems caused by the attack
- Money lost due to your website being down
- Vital information and intellectual property being stolen
With a successful breach, the cyber-criminal can gain access to your most treasured intellectual properties, invaluable secret information or just bring your website down.
A harsh blow can be dealt to your reputation by making certain e-mails public, or even by accessing your website and social media profiles and blatantly smearing your name by posting questionable information, making highly controversial claims and so on. This is why you want to make sure that your security is at an adequate level, which is where VAPT or Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing come in.
What does Vulnerability Assessment entail?
At first, a company may not be aware of the potential security problems they have and the different holes that can be exploited by hackers. It is at this point that all the weak points need to be exposed and prioritized so that the company can invest time and effort wisely and deal with the most severe problems first. A vulnerability assessment does just that, i.e. it exposes vulnerable areas in your security and lists them from the biggest down to the smallest. You may be surprised to find out just how much risk your company is exposed to on a daily basis.
What is Penetration Testing?
Hackers can target different areas and use a variety of tactics to reach a specific goal, e.g. accessing a database and stealing privileged employee information or crashing a website to cause loss of revenue, so you will need to ensure that you can withstand a range of attacks. Once you have had a vulnerability assessment performed, and understand in which areas you are most vulnerable, you can work on improving your security in the right places.
When you are fairly satisfied with your current level of security, you can then have professionals try to perform a successful hacker attack in order to test your actual safety level. Referred to as white hat hackers – an allusion to the “good guy” characters in old westerns who wore white hats – these professionals will simulate an attack employing the same tactics that a hacker looking to do you harm would, except they don’t take things any further that just gaining access.
They then file a report allowing you to see which areas can be exploited and exactly how your security can be breached. It is essentially like hiring a thief to break into your office so that he can give you some valuable insights into effective anti-theft measures. The information gathered can be used to make the necessary adjustments and make sure that your security is truly airtight.
The importance of air-tight server security in the modern age
While the most sophisticated of the old school hackers were heavily motivated by financial gain, today, complex hacking methods are used more and more by people who have political and ideological goals in mind, and whose sole motivation is seeing a company burn. There have been a lot of big data breaches in recent years, and we are talking about giant corporations like Sony, Ebay, Home Depot and Adobe here. It seems that no one is completely safe, so the worst thing you can do is let yourself get lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that a few basic measures will be enough to stop a determined hacker. This is why VAPT is essential for any serious business out there. It can help you take a realistic look at your security shortcomings and take the adequate steps.