Pentesting Must Advance

It is not feasible to simply conduct more pentests in the typical method. Traditional pentests often miss a wide range of critical vulnerabilities, making it difficult to keep track of the ones that are discovered and disclosed. It’s discouraging to think of how much money, time, and effort security teams and their contractors have put into responding to today’s and tomorrow’s cyber threats, only for those efforts to fall short.

It is not practical to staff a large enough team to conduct continuous traditional pentests. It’s time to rethink how pentests are organised and carried out. In order to give more flexibility, continuity, and intelligence than a standard pentest, organisations require scalable third-party solutions that integrate technology with manual, human testing.

Analysis of Deficiencies in Pentesting

You understand why legacy technology is insecure, impractical, and insufficient as a security leader. In that vein, legacy pentesting procedures must be reconsidered. In today’s cyber-threat scenario, using outmoded pentesting methodology is like sending a tortoise to chase a cheetah. It will be a difficult task to conquer, but we must do so with perseverance and resourcefulness.

Security teams play a critical role in keeping their organisations safe. We hope that this white paper helps you grasp the arguments against traditional pentesting. You deserve to uncover vulnerabilities that matter, not add to your security team’s workload and risk.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of why and how old-school pentesting can’t keep up with today’s challenges:

  • For the cloud era, it’s too slow and static. A standard annual pentest overlooks significant cloud risks and assets. It’s a snapshot in time, with a wide region to cover, and it fails to depict the state of the ecosystem sufficiently. Regardless of the safeguards in place, a zero-day vulnerability or misconfiguration can occur at any time (e.g., Apache Log4j). Adversaries can and will take advantage of ephemeral cloud assets that are available on the Internet (e.g., containers, storage buckets, etc.).
  • Lack of scalability and flexibility in the deployment. In businesses with tens of thousands of assets, traditional pen testing is ineffective. Extensive testing wait times, a lack of effective coverage, and the inability to see what was actually tested are all frustrating to organisations. The result of these flaws is an inability to have confidence and trust in one’s own talents.
  • Compliance only ensures security on paper, not in the real world. Regulatory compliance is an important starting point for any security programme, but it isn’t enough when it comes to tracking performance over time or reporting environmental harshness. Malicious hackers begin their enumeration procedure to discover targets as soon as vulnerable vulnerabilities are released. Attackers aren’t interested in rules of engagement and won’t wait for you to patch.
  • Disruption in security and development workflows For security teams, a standard pentest causes worry and extra labour. The outcomes aren’t useful. The majority of vendors refuse to re-test, measure security enhancements, or give real-time data. Poor pentesting abilities can potentially cause disruption by taking network parts offline accidently, resulting in costly downtime.
  • Competitors’ ingenuity and resources are lacking. The era of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) is now upon us. Pentests must mimic a wide range of tactics, methods, and procedures (TTPs) used by attackers. Two consultants with a checklist won’t be able to or will not be able to prepare you for what’s to come.

The Unpleasant Truth of Traditional Penetration Testing

For a long time, annual pentesting has been a compliance requirement. Pentesting is routinely requested by businesses as part of their compliance with NIST, PCI-DSS, and GDPR. To ensure that major security vulnerabilities are not missed, security teams must rethink how they pentest today.

For the cloud era, traditional pentesting is excessively slow and immobile.

The cloud has changed the way people do business nowadays. Cloud assets are more pliable, dynamic, and growing than ever before:

  • The lifespan of containers and virtual machines can be as short as a few days.
  • Traditional pentesting is built for a pre-cloud era where networks are wholly on premises and evolve more slowly.

The flexibility and scalability of traditional pentesting deployments are lacking.

Deployments can take weeks or months to plan, delaying the testing process significantly:

  • Organisations typically lack the flexibility to check for a specific CVE when a new exploitable vulnerability is discovered on Twitter or Reddit.
  • Scaling manual testing deployments from one to tens of thousands of assets is impossible.
  • Another issue is that pentests necessitate the participation of specialists with varying skill sets, making them difficult to organise if engagements are planned in the typical manner.

A security baseline should not be based solely on compliance.

A security program’s regulatory compliance is critical, yet compliance checklists fall short:

  • It’s difficult to quantify security hardening and security maturity over time if you pentest occasionally according to compliance rather than continually.
  • Because audits don’t happen every month, finding and resolving exploitable vulnerabilities months after they appear is fine for compliance.
  • As soon as zero-day vulnerabilities are made public, malicious hackers can begin their enumeration process to find targets (e.g., Microsoft Exchange).
  • Even if your organisation’s sensitive data is breached in the months it took to discover a vulnerability, it could result in negative press, compliance problems, or brand harm.
  • Point-in-time reporting falls short of providing timely assessments of newly discovered and exploitable flaws.

Traditional pentesting wreaks havoc on security and development processes.

Traditional pentesting is disruptive, which is one of the reasons why organisations don’t pentest as regularly as they should.

  • Many scanners used in pentests produce noisy results, diverting attention away from serious flaws that must be fixed first.
  • Vendors deliver pentest reports in non-actionable formats (e.g., PDFs and Excel sheets).
  • If reports are not lost, a member of the security team must copy and paste information into ticketing applications such as Jira or ServiceNow.
  • Pentests may need to be redone to acquire new data. Repeating an exploit can be messy and annoying when pentesting is disruptive.

Traditional pentesting can’t compete with attackers’ ingenuity and resources.

To put it another way, traditional pentesting is inefficient in every manner:

  • Finding top pentesting talent, especially those with specific expertise, can be tough.
  • Inevitably, a few pentesters’ knowledge and skills are restricted in comparison to a couple hundred or perhaps a thousand pentesters.
  • Collective intelligence is a measurable phenomena that can aid in the discovery of vulnerabilities and exploits by being more innovative and effective.
  • Traditional pentesting engagements are intentionally limited in scope, partly to reduce disruption and partially owing to time and resource constraints. There will be significant gaps in your network.

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