What is Automated penetration testing ?

    In the modern digital landscape, cyber threats are constantly evolving. As such, it’s not enough for organizations to be reactive in their cybersecurity. To be adequately prepared for attacks, organizations must stay on the front foot and proactively upscale their cybersecurity measure before attacks can occur. This, in essence, is what automated penetration testing is all about.

    What are penetration testing and automated penetration testing?

    Penetration testing is a proactive process that enables organizations to maintain a strong security posture. It involves emulating cyber attacks on applications, systems, and networks in order to identify exploitable attack vectors in an organization’s security measures. 

    By using the same techniques and tools used in real adversarial attacks, pentesters are able to identify a wide variety of potential vulnerabilities, including outdated systems, misconfigured security tools, and gaps in authentication mechanisms, for example. The benefit of this is that it enables them to prioritize and remediate security vulnerabilities before a real attack occurs to mitigate risk and strengthen their security posture.

    Automated penetration testing takes pentesting one step further by incorporating the use of automated security tools. Using such tools, pentesters can automate routine assessments and carry them out more regularly. As such, automated penetration testing can empower organizations to continuously monitor their IT environments and systematically validate their defenses to strengthen their posture.

    Selecting the right penetration testing strategy: automated vs. manual

    Automated and manual penetration testing each has its own advantages and is equally useful depending on the situation at hand.

    Due to its inherent ability to expedite repetitive processes, automated penetration testing offers high utility in instances where regular checks need to be conducted across extensive IT environments. It offers speed and consistency at scale, enabling organizations to reduce the labor involved for continuous security validation.

    Manual penetration testing, on the other hand, enables a greater degree of flexibility. By manually assessing security systems, penetration testers can adapt their approaches to identify unprecedented entry points that automated systems might not account for. As such, manual penetration testing allows for deeper analysis and a more nuanced approach to validation in cases where systems and networks with unique configurations need to be assessed.

    Best practices for implementing automated penetration testing

    To achieve optimal results with automated penetration testing, it’s advisable to adhere to best practices when it comes to implementation. The following are some core principles which can help your organization to get the most out of automated penetration testing:

    • Set out clear objectives for automated penetration testing
    • Establish regular schedules and prioritize critical assets for testing
    • Utilize continuous monitoring for real-time threat detection
    • Report and document all testing and results for analysis

    Creating a unified penetration testing strategy for greater resilience

    Penetration testing is a critical aspect of a strong cybersecurity posture. By helping organizations to proactively pinpoint and remediate vulnerabilities, it empowers them to stay one step ahead when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. Automated penetration testing is ideal for carrying out regular assessments at scale, while manual penetration testing is more adaptable when seeking out vulnerabilities in uniquely configured systems. As such, the two go hand-in-hand and are best used in tandem to provide maximum coverage.

    Glossary related terms
    Automated Security Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) External Attack Surface Management (EASM) Ransomware Readiness Assessment Red Teaming Security Control Validation Security Validation Vulnerability Management