3WaySecure Consulting

11.11.2021
Security Testing an industrial control system network

Penetration testing is a simulation of a real-world cyberattack on an organization’s infrastructure. 

This simulation of a real-world cyberattack will help to identify weaknesses of the infrastructure’s security controls and other vulnerabilities that exist within the infrastructure that can be exploited. The organization also benefits from invaluable information about the ways in which its organization can be compromised. All these vulnerabilities and weaknesses are what attackers would be looking to take advantage of. 

This critical information of how your organization can be compromised will be helpful to implement security controls and make necessary policy changes to protect the infrastructure. In a way, this is similar to a bank hiring someone to demonstrate to them how they will break into the vault, in order to gain valuable information on how they need to tighten their security measures.

Frequency and Expertise:

By performing penetration testing on a regular and consistent basis, organizations will be able to obtain expert, unbiased third-party feedback on their security posture and cybersecurity program. It is recommended to carry out penetration testing on a yearly basis. In some cases, such as critical infrastructures, this might not be practical, hence the organization may perform the testing on a bit longer interval depending on their risk tolerance.

If penetration testing is performed by individuals with little-to-no prior knowledge of the organization’s infrastructure, it will be helpful to get an unbiased view of how the infrastructure is secured and help to expose the weaknesses. Industrial organizations will benefit from hiring firms employing certified penetration testers with knowledge of industrial environments. With a good understanding of the industrial assets, the right penetration tester will be able to look for weaknesses that a hacker targeting such organizations would do. 

The expertise engaged to perform penetration testing may vary greatly depending on the target infrastructure and the scope of the testing an organization is looking to carry out.

Types of Penetration Testing:

There are three types of penetration testing based on methodology. 

  • Whitehat – when the set-up and inner workings of organization is fully known prior to test
  • Greyhat – when the set-up and inner workings of organization is fully known in a limited capacity prior to the test
  • Blackhat – when the set-up and inner workings of organization is not known to the testing team

Testing can be performed from within the infrastructure or from outside the infrastructure to simulate various threats. This is based on the assessment of risk perceived by the infrastructure. 

Phases of penetration testing:

Planning and reconnaissance: 

The initial phase is when the tester spends time gathering intelligent information that will be used to plan the simulated attack. This involves, scanning for IPs, looking for domain information or any other kind of actionable intelligence that can be used for performing the simulated attack. Various tools may be used to perform this activity.

Exploitation:

Once enough intelligence such as asset information, their weaknesses are established, the testing team uses various methods to exploit the assets to gain entry into the target. Various manual methods and automated tools may be used to help in this effort.

Post Exploitation:

After gaining access to the target, advanced attack methods could be used to demonstrate the extent of damage a real-world attack could cause to the organization once an attacker gains access.

Analysis and Reporting:

The findings of the simulated attack such as vulnerabilities, vectors of attack, and other information captured are analyzed and captured in a report for presentation to the organization’s leadership team and technical team. 

Outcome and benefits of testing

The findings reveal meaningful information on the robustness of the security defenses and weaknesses within. With these details, the organization will be able to protect its infrastructure by improving its cybersecurity defenses and enhancing its cybersecurity program. 

Benefits:

  1. Average time taken for a business or organization to fully recover from a cyberattack is a few weeks if not months. If business’ operations are disrupted for weeks, it will result in financial losses and loss of customer’s trust. In comparison to that, a planned penetration testing activity for two to three weeks to carry out a thorough engagement is saving your organization’s time, money and reputation.
  2. Penetration testing can help to prevent extremely expensive and damaging cyberattacks. To avoid expensive financial damages to the organization a Penetration Test is a worthy investment.

At 3WaySecure Consulting, we offer holistic, pragmatic, and sustainable cybersecurity services to protect industrial organizations from evolving cyber threats. We offer services in the areas of risk management, cybersecurity compliance, security testing, and cybersecurity consulting that are tailored to your specific infrastructure and business needs. If you need help regarding the cybersecurity challenges your business faces or advice on ICS/OT security, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to get non-binding advice from our experts. 3WaySecure Consulting will be an essential partner to guide you along the journey of OT cybersecurity.

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