What to look for in a Penetration Test provider

What to look for in a Penetration Test provider

In cybersecurity, every little detail matter. Each organization is different, with individual characteristics, and your cybersecurity needs are unique to you. This is why choosing the right service provider for your security solutions is key to getting the most value out of your security investments. Since Penetration Testing (pentesting) is one of the most important cybersecurity services out there for mitigating risk as well as for complying with regulatory requirements, by which criteria do decision-makers choose their pentest service providers?

Not all Penetration Test providers are the same. Each provider offers a unique blend of specialties, expertise and talent in the actual conducting of their pentests, as well as in their deliverables. When you embark on your quest to find a Penetration Test provider that is right for you and your organization’s unique characteristics and needs, you must take into consideration that it is a long-term partnership with a security partner who is in charge of something extremely important for the information security and risk management strategy of your organization.

 

Extensive and combined Experience

Look into their experience in conducting Penetration Tests, and the scope that those cover. It is recommended that penetration tests are conducted by professional security consultants whose knowledge extends far beyond traditional penetrating testing. Such teams can provide unique expertise, guidance and support towards the effective mitigation of the risks identified during the exercise.

 

Expertise and know-how

Look into their staff’s know-how, reputation, awards, and whether the provider has a dedicated professional team with diverse talent and expertise so as to deliver high-quality results. Look for a holistic approach to information security and risk management, with a complete range of related services, products and solutions, indicating a cross-departmental sharing of knowledge and expertise.

 

360° approach

To be relevant and effective, a pentest provider should adopt a 360° approach to the penetration testing process. A careful combination of automated solutions (commercial and open-source) for Network/Infrastructure/Application assessments and manual checks performed by multiple specialized engineers should be deployed, so that vulnerabilities, architecture/design flaws and configuration weaknesses can be accurately identified. Subsequently, based on the information obtained, an orchestrated exploitation plan should be crafted and executed to both validate the findings but also to determine the level of exposure of the organization.

 

Following the strictest industry standards

Adherence to internationally accepted industry standards is an indication of commitment to high-quality service and deliverables. Check whether a pentest provider maintains relevant certifications and accreditations. If, for example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is relevant to your organization, then a provider suited for you must also apply the strictest framework requirements of PCI DSS while performing their penetration testing exercises.

 

Comprehensive reporting

Find out whether they provide comprehensive reporting and actionable deliverables beyond traditional penetration testing reports, including an Executive Summary, findings/observations, key recommendations, security control areas of weaknesses associated with technical details, and supporting evidence.

 

Always up-to-date with the latest threats

The more up-to-date a pentest provider is with the latest emerging threats and vulnerabilities, the more value you can get out of your Penetration Tests. Look for a provider that conducts Threat Research leveraging Threat Intelligence feeds, that is involved in incident response and digital forensics cases, and who provides actionable step-by-step recommendations for you to effectively mitigate risk identified through findings.

To sum up, you can choose the pentest service provider that is most suited for your organization’s individual needs by keeping the above criteria in mind. However, what’s most important is a pentest provider’s customer-focused approach and ability to maintain close communication with you, so as to listen to your organization’s concerns and challenges, and to incorporate that active communication into their service provision and deliverables.

The Pentest E-Guide

Everything you need to know to choose the right PenTest.

Additional Resources