It can be very hard to know if your cybersecurity is adequate. Until someone tries to get past those defenses, there is no way to know if they will be good enough. However, things are not as difficult as they may seem. There are, in fact, many ways to test your cybersecurity. Although testing is not always accurate, it will allow you to see where your system is weak and where it needs to be reinforced. We would say that an unwillingness to thoroughly test one’s system is one of the worst IT security mistakes that you could make.
You should start with a series of low-level tests to determine if any obvious problems are present. First, do a deep scan with your best antivirus software to see if any serious risks are detected. If they are, follow whatever instructions are given to rectify the issue. Your operating system (probably Windows 10 for most of you) also has native scanning tools that can be used. These are probably found in either the settings menu or the control panel.
It’s also a good idea to take a quick look at your network traffic. Free programs like Wireshark and Nmap will allow you to see if your system is “calling home” to any suspicious servers/machines. If so, you might already be infected. Files that cannot be deleted or moved are another big red flag although they can be removed with a free program called Fileassassin. You should also check your RAM usage to see if it is abnormally high.
After taking that first initial peek, you should be ready to do a full assessment of your security situation. This usually takes the form of a vulnerability assessment in which all potential holes are documented. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “hack-proof” system, as even the most secure government servers have been hacked in the past. However, even if you can’t close every open door, you can at least take stock of where they are and how many there are.
These assessments can be performed by a professional cybersecurity company, such as PCH Technologies, and any good one should offer such services. You don’t want to do this kind of thing in-house unless you’ve got some serious experts on your team. Remember that your vulnerability assessment will only be as good as its authors.
A good vulnerability assessment must cover the following subjects:
- Comprehensive list of all known vulnerabilities
- A comprehensive plan for dealing with those vulnerabilities
- The establishment of an acceptable risk level
- Projection of possible consequences from a data breach
- Severity and age of all known vulnerabilities
- Complete evaluation of the network and all its ports
Penetration testing is probably the single best way to test your system. As we said before, there is no way to know if your defenses are sufficient until they are attacked. However, there is one way to get around that problem: Hire a friendly hacker to attack the system in a controlled way.
This might seem like a dangerous prospect, but that’s only the case if you fail to vet your pen testers properly. Obviously, you need people with clean backgrounds and known identities. It is better to contract such people from an established cybersecurity company, just to be on the safe side.
If you aren’t willing to trust anyone else with this job, you can try your hand at pen-testing. By using a Linux-based OS called Kali, you can get all sorts of hacking tools bundled in one convenient distro. If you are willing to learn, there is a well-maintained online community that can help. However, bear in mind that self-education on this matter will be very difficult for the average person.
Red Team Assessment
This can be a confusing term, as it often appears to be the same thing as penetration testing. This picture is somewhat accurate because red team assessments are just a specific type of penetration test. Rather than involving one or a few individuals, this will involve an entire team of simulated hackers. These “hackers” play the role of the “red team” while the defending IT people play the role of the “blue team.”
In some ways, this kind of thing is like a cybersecurity war-game. This motivates people (who naturally want to win any contest) to try their very best on both ends of the exercise. If you really want to do the most thorough penetration-style testing, you should not neglect these valuable training and assessment procedures.
Don’t Forget About The Social Engineering Factor
It is important to remember that you are not just testing the technology here. You are also testing the people who use that technology on a regular basis. When it comes to security, an organization is only as strong as its weakest link, so bear that in mind. All it takes is one careless person who clicks without thinking to compromise an entire organization.
Pen testing of any kind (including red team assessments) should include extensive attempts at social engineering. Even if your people fail the test, that failure might help to instill them with a certain sense of caution. If nothing else, it’s a great way to show your employees how easily the unwary can be tricked. You should avoid the temptation to shame those who fail these tests, however, as that is not the point.
At PCH Technologies, we understand that honest and complete security assessments are necessary for any organization. Even if you don’t handle a lot of sensitive data, there is always the chance you could be targeted. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your organization is too small or too poor to be a target. If you are looking for the best security testing and the best security testers, feel free to call us at (856) 754-7500.