Why Security Assessments and Penetration Testing are Essential

by Riversafe

In a world more reliant than ever on remote technology and networks, the risk of a potential attack on a company’s system is at an all-time high. From phishing to ransomware to malicious outsiders and rogue internals, the list of weapons for an attack is wide-reaching and endless. With almost half of these targeting small businesses, the message is clear – it’s essential to fortify your network against potential breaches.  Two vital factors in ensuring networks are well defended include cyber security assessments and penetration testing.

These two methods work in unison. Together they evaluate the weaknesses in a network’s defences and help businesses create a plan to remove vulnerabilities. Firstly, a cyber security assessment is conducted, which considers multiple factors to identify any critical vulnerabilities, before a penetration test gains deeper insight into how exactly these areas can be exploited. When properly utilised, these techniques help businesses build a solid barrier against potential attacks, ensuring peace of mind and reducing the chance of any potential damage.

Why do companies conduct cyber security assessments?

We already know that the chance of a potential attack is greater than it has ever been, but there are also many other advantages to conducting both cyber security assessments and penetration tests.
Through conducting a cyber security assessment, businesses are made aware of any vulnerabilities in their network. They also encourage essential communication with upper management. Security is at its most effective when implemented in all areas of a company, and for this to happen, company-wide communication is key.

What is examined in a cyber security assessment?

When conducting a cyber security assessment, RiverSafe aims to examine key elements within these six fundamental areas:

1. The nature and value of the company’s cyber assets: What hardware, software, and confidential information assets does this company hold? What order of priority would these assets be designated by attackers?

2. Where may potential threats arise? What specific assets would be open to potential attacks? This helps us scope the attack surface of the attackers.

3. What specific vulnerabilities are open to potential attacks? May these vulnerabilities be targeted and exploited? Are the vulnerabilities relevant and what are their severity in the environment?

4. What is the likelihood of potential damage? Is an attack here likely and feasible? Based on the assets the company protects what is the risk associated with any of these threats.

5. What is the impact of an attack on operations? What damage would be caused by an attack on a particular vulnerability? This is where we use our understanding of the company’s assets to determine the risk that they create for the business.

6. Is the current level of cyber security compliant with both privacy and security regulations? If the current level of cyber security is compliant, what are the key areas that may still be improved on? If not, what changes must be made to ensure compliance?

By examining each of these factors, RiverSafe can ensure that businesses are provided with a full and extensive assessment of their cyber security infrastructure.

After this assessment has been performed and key vulnerabilities have been identified, a penetration test is highly recommended. This allows businesses to gain directly actionable insights into how exactly their cyber security vulnerabilities may be targeted and exploited.


What does penetration testing involve?

Penetration testing actively seeks out and exploits vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a network’s system. By doing this, it aims to raise awareness of potential threats and help users safeguard their systems against future attacks. There are five key steps involved in performing a successful and informative penetration test.

The 5 key steps in penetration testing

1. Planning and Scoping – RiverSafe defines the parameters of the test and thoroughly researches their target.

2. Scanning – The asset is then analysed and scanned in order to identify how it will respond to a test.

3. Vulnerability analysis – Vulnerabilities are analysed to gain insight into how they would best be exploited, before selecting them for an attack.

4. Exploitation – The attack is conducted under secure and controlled conditions, testing the extent of any vulnerabilities.

5. Analysis – A report of results is created and examined, before being used to generate a plan to safeguard vulnerabilities for the future.

When these steps are combined, businesses are provided with a clear, detailed, and thoroughly assessed blueprint of their current state of security. These key insights show how their vulnerabilities may be exploited by attackers, as well as providing a roadmap for how best to remedy these vulnerabilities for the future.

What are the benefits of conducting a penetration test for businesses?

Penetration testing is beneficial to companies for a number of reasons. Alongside providing key insight into points of weaknesses that may be exploited, it allows companies to be proactive against potential threats – identifying and resolving potential weaknesses before a harmful attack is executed, reducing potential damage caused and improving the overall state of your cyber security.

How can RiverSafe help?

As a leading professional security services consultancy, RiverSafe can aid in performing both cyber security assessments and penetration testing. We aim to provide the highest level of cyber security assurance possible – providing insight and protection to ensure peace of mind.
The potential damage caused by certain attacks can be dangerous in its lowest form, and downright deadly and destructive when conducted by experienced attackers. With more and more small businesses being targeted, and with the frequency of attacks increasing, it’s more important than ever to ensure that networks are protected against impending attacks.

To learn more about our security service solutions, or to begin your journey towards high-quality cyber security, contact us now.


By Riversafe

Experts in DevOps, Cyber Security and Data Operations