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When first coined, the term hacker meant a person who enjoyed exploring the details of programmable systems and their capabilities.
Even the US government hired groups of security experts whose job was to hack into the government’s own computer systems in order to identify weak points and improve security.
Unfortunately, today the term has gained a negative connotation and the ethics of hacking were overshadowed by the idea that it is criminal activity and digital trespassing. However – it was never meant to be about attacks and monetary gain.
Ethical hacking is there to protect the integrity of data and functionality of the system under attack. Professionals who will provide this service are called ‘white hat’ hackers. They gain access to a computer system only after obtaining the owner’s permission. They then conduct a cyber-attack in order to detect vulnerabilities which they are ethically, and often contractually obliged to reveal to the owner.
They never divulge information they come across in the process and are often hired by a number of organizations to improve cybersecurity using penetration testing techniques.
Sleep Easy – Do a Penetration Test
A penetration test, or a pen test, is conducting an authorized simulated cyber-attack in order to identify potential vulnerabilities and provide a full risk assessment. Now, why do you need website penetration testing? In order to answer that, let us take a look at how hacking can affect your business. Firstly, one of the most important aspects is at stake – your reputation.
A hacker may tarnish the rapport you have established with your customers and sensitive data such as credit card numbers, addresses and names are all compromised only to be sold to someone who can profit from your misfortune. Getting your website back on track will take some time, after which you may notice a considerable decrease in traffic. Unless you prevent it.
Expose all the weaknesses before the hackers do. A controlled, simulated attack will detect all flaws so you can strengthen them before someone actually attempts to attack your system. Furthermore, you will learn which areas of security you need to invest in. An anti-virus and a firewall are simply not enough anymore.
Astonishingly, over 50% of small businesses suffer a cyber-attack at some point, and the majority of them go out of business in the next six months. A penetration test will point out in which weak defenses to invest. It will also provide an opportunity to get a second opinion on your level of security. Your IT professional is there to monitor the system, but there may be blind spots you do not want to miss. In the long run, you will definitely save money by avoiding the fines of governing bodies in case your customers’ data is compromised.
Even if your system seems to be impenetrable and you haven’t had any trouble, how will you know it can withstand a real attack? Hackers incessantly look for new ways to cause a breach, which means you need to keep up to date with current cybersecurity trends.
Know the Enemy
Following the news and threat information channels may prove invaluable to the overall wellbeing of your website. Choose a reliable content source which can either be community driven or tied to a brand or inform yourself as much as you can on the latest developments in the world of hacking. Search a vulnerability database so you become familiar with potential soft spots of your system. Furthermore, there are news sources that provide an in-depth insight into both security topics and the investigations behind them. You will learn about the most recent security trends and get vital facts about updated threat information.
You can do more than just change your password
Another security aspect worth mentioning is web page access control. It is a mechanism which allows access only to certain individuals. We are all familiar with the identity and password type of controlled access, but there are several other ways to achieve a filtered approach to information. A more sophisticated way is to encrypt the information that makes up the webpage. The user is able to see the results, but the underlying information is not accessible. One can also download password-free web page access control software.
Of course, don’t forget to regularly update your software. Cybercriminals have never been more active. They are constantly working on finding exploitable holes in the system, and older versions of your software will always have the same bugs they have become familiar with. Your documents are open to attack, and not only can malware delete them, but it can also transfer them to another server. Did you know that hackers can actually remotely turn off your protection system? Without even being aware of it, you can pass on malware to friends and colleagues.
Investing in your business means investing in its security and general wellbeing. Even a strong, frequently changed password which is never written down will go a long way, but the real peace of mind comes from knowing you have done everything in your power to protect what you worked so hard for.