To Pentest or not to Pentest: is this really the question?

I wrote before about Pentesting in the article “What is Pentesting, Vulnerability Scanning, which one do you need?” .

If you’re a company having web services of any kind or a kind of backend, you are asking yourself if you should only do pentesting or make things right and do the entire risk assessment and threat modeling exercise.

Pentesting is like an insurance showing to the external world that your product will not be hacked easily once it is live.

The common understanding these days, is that pentesting identifies such errors and helps the company to fix them. It might find really big issues, which denote normally a severe lack of knowledge (aka incompetence) regarding programming  of web services.

Most of the time it isn’t the case.  But what is sure is that most of the time though, it produces so many false positives that it masks any medium or small issue that might become a problem in the future.

Again, I am not saying that you should not do pentesting. I am saying that it should be done at a later point in time, with another priority.

 

I can think from different points of view:

  • from the perspective of the company producing the software, it is better to do all the other steps we discussed about before, fix what is to be fixed and only at the end do a pentest just to verify that nothing was forgotten.

  • from the perspective of the developer, you can’t easily accept that your product might have security issues. So, why messing around something that anyway “is not broken” and “can’t be broken” ?

  • from the perspective of the end-customer: pentesting is a checkmark, a guarantee that something was done to insure that their data is safe from hackers.

 

At the end of the day, the company must make sure that everyone is happy, while thinking for the long term:

  • Do you want to invest time and resources regularly in doing pentesting after each major change?
    OR
  • Do you want to invest time and resources in making sure that the developers know what to look for and know how to think so that the product they build is secure by default, design and deployment?
    In this case pentesting would just be the checkmark that confirms what you knew already.

Tough decision, I know. 🙂

 

Hint: 

Go for the second. It will let you sleep better at night and will make your company better prepared for future attacks.


© Copyright 2016 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca

Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since year 2000 in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is an independent IT Security Consultant focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .

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