The Security Risk Assessment Process

In our last blog post we defined security risk assessment, we mentioned who should run a cyber risk assessment and why is necessary to perform such assessments at least once a year. The next step in our analysis includes relevant details of the risk assessment process.

The Extent of The Security Risk Assessment

The first step of the process is to determine the scope and the limits of the assessment. This can encompass an entire organization, an operating unit, a subdivision, or certain components like the payroll process.

Once you determine the extent, you need to inform all relevant executives, particularly those whose activities fall within the scope of the assessment. Their input is crucial to identifying the relevant processes and assets, locating risks, assessing impacts, and defining risk tolerance levels.

All parties involved in the assessment process should learn the relevant terminology, including risk likelihood and impact (the risk matrix). It helps standardize and ensures accurate communication. In addition, organizations should review risk management frameworks like NIST SP 800-37 and standards like ISO / IEC 27001 for guidance on security controls implementation.

Threat and Vulnerability Identification

Simply put, a vulnerability is a weakness that exposes your organization to potential threats.

A threat is any event that can damage your company’s assets or processes.

Vulnerabilities can be identified using several methods including automated scanning, performing security audits, penetration testing, vendor security advisories, following application security testing protocols, etc.

Your analysis should cover as many types of flaws as possible, such as technical, physical, and process flaws. For instance, a company that does not have physical access control is vulnerable to physical intrusion, while a connected device that does not have malware protection is vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Analyze Risks and Potential Impact

The third step of the process is to determine how the risk scenarios your team has identified can impact the organization. In security risk assessment, potential risk (the probability that a particular threat can exploit a vulnerability) is calculated based on several factors:

  • Ease of exploitability
  • Discoverability of the security weakness
  • Threat occurrence (some threats occur only once while others are recurring)
  • Prevalence of the threat in the industry
  • Historical security incidents.

Prioritize Risks

A risk matrix can be used to classify each risk scenario based on likelihood and impact. It is crucial to define a risk tolerance ratio and specify which threat scenarios should be addressed by third parties along with other relevant details, such as preliminary measures, specific security protocols, etc.

Based on the risk matrix you can choose one of three actions:

Avoid – if the risk level is low and it is not worthwhile to mitigate it, you may decide to take no action.

Transfer – if the risk is significant but difficult to mitigate internally by your designated team, it is advisable to share the risk by transferring responsibility to a third party, by contracting an outsourced security service.

Mitigate – all risks that can be addressed internally should be handled accordingly. You can do this by implementing specific security controls and other similar measures.

Note! Security risk assessments usually include a certain level of residual risk that will be either missed or not fully addressed mainly because of the complexity of certain emerging threats. Therefore, business executives should be aware of this and always refer to residual risk within the organization’s cybersecurity plan.

Document All Risks

It is extremely important to document all identified risks. All findings should be reviewed and updated regularly to provide visibility and for maintaining the state of security.

Risk documentation usually includes relevant details of the risk scenario, information about the existing security controls, the risk level, the risk mitigation plan, the residual risk expected, etc.

Also, every risk category should have a risk owner, basically a person or a team responsible for keeping the threat to an acceptable level.

Organizations must discover and address any emerging threats in a timely manner. Therefore, a solid initial security risk assessment will provide a good basis for any further assessments.


Security risk assessment is a large and ongoing effort which requires time, resources, and more than anything, a professional approach. For more related information, please reach out to StratusPointIT.

Security Risk Assessment: Overview

All your business processes, technologies, and business operations involve inherent security risks, and your organization is the only one responsible to make sure those risks are both acknowledged and addressed.

Regardless of the size of your organization, the need for a technology security risk assessment is obvious because the threat is imminent. Many organizations do not have one performed, exposing their assets to cyber-attacks.

Who Should Perform a Cyber Risk Assessment?

The process requires organizational transparency, typically provided by internal teams. However, organizations with no skilled personnel can outsource risk assessment to a third party.

An in-house team will include technicians and engineers with a deep understanding of the organization’s network infrastructure and flows of information for any process or system.

Why Perform a Security Risk Assessment?

Protects Your Reputation

Without regular assessments, the danger of security breaches is high, putting your organization’s reputation on the line with clients and vendors for not adequately protecting their data against an attack. This would affect your reputation and impact the potential of your business.

Avoid Security Breaches

Regardless of how sophisticated your systems are, your organization will always be a target for cyber criminals. Hackers are constantly looking for fraudulent means to take advantage of any vulnerabilities in your system.

Performing frequent risk assessments can help your team identify security issues and ensure that relevant policies and controls are put in place before a breach.

Keeps Systems Updated

Security protocols are always changing, and your organization’s technologies and processes are changing as well. Conducting security risk assessments regularly allows you to consolidate the state of security of your business.

Reduces Costs

Depending on the size of your organization, a breach can cost you thousands of dollars or even more just to get your data back and business operations up and running.

However, there is the cost associated with clients leaving or time spent reassuring clients. All those costs mentioned are usually unplanned expenses and can become a heavy burden to your budget. A security risk assessment allows you to plan and reduce such costs.

Avoid Violations

Organizations that handle sensitive data, such as protected health information, are required to abide by security and privacy laws. Failing to perform a security risk assessment is a violation of these regulations.

Also, if a breach does occur, there is the potential of fines and long and costly lawsuits. One of the easiest ways to avoid non-compliance is by performing a security risk assessment.

Increase Self-Awareness

Another major benefit of such an assessment is the ability to provide you with a detailed report about your network and how it is being utilized. This could also highlight inefficiencies within your network that could be costing you money and could be easily streamlined with an adequate solution.

An IT security risk assessment can help identify exploitable vulnerabilities that your team might not be aware of. Unfortunately, without proper insight over their network, an organization cannot efficiently secure its infrastructure against an attack.

A Culture of Safety

Creating a culture of safety should be more than just a legal requirement. As an organization, it is your responsibility to build an environment where your staff and customers feel safe and valued.

Developing skills for identifying, analyzing, and evaluating security risks is crucial. Therefore, investing in security risk assessment training will help your organization in the long run.

NOTE: Cybersecurity awareness training can serve as a starting point for empowering workers with a clearer understanding of security risks.

As you can see, there are several benefits to an organization for having regular security risk assessments performed. Our seasoned team has the necessary resources to provide you with top-notch cyber risk assessment, security awareness training, network security services, and more.

The Hacker Mindset

It’s critical for IT security teams to stay vigilant not only when it comes to major security issues, but also to minor challenges and always following security best practices.

Putting yourself in the shoes of a hacker is beneficial. Sometimes you have to poke holes to point out flaws. Get together with your team and discuss system vulnerabilities, potential threats against your organization’s data, etc.

People having different perspectives is a huge edge because it may lead to identification of exploitable security issues and addressing these issues will eventually improve the state of security of your company.

As IT security threats evolve, chief information security officers and their teams must be prepared for everything from zero-day exploits, deepfakes, supply chain threats, malware, etc.

By ensuring visibility across your infrastructure, encouraging employee training, and supporting bug bounty programs, your organization will improve its security posture and be better prepared to overcome security obstacles.

The No.1 Security Ally Is Your Team

Recent breaches have shown us that the level of sophistication and damage caused by malicious actors doesn’t slow down. Unfortunately, hackers who breached casino giants MGM, Caesars few months ago also hit other international organizations over the past few years and allegedly collected more than $300 million in ransom so far.

So, if hackers are staying up to date on the latest threats and risks, it goes without saying that we should as well. Creating a “security champions” program across the company is a great way to instill security. Therefore, you should have a team member from your legal department, sales, finance, etc., who can connect with your security team and be a liaison for security.

A widely known saying is you need to create a “human firewall”.  One way to help this is to implement Security Awareness Training to help your team understand proper passwords, types of phishing attacks, etc.

Bug Bounty Contests

The easiest way to access ethical hacking is to organize bug bounty contests. Executives should reward good behavior.

Encouraging employees to attend hackathons, even if it is only to observe or learn at first, is very important. It’s one step in the right direction for cybersecurity education.

The increased need for internal cybersecurity education and support for bug bounty programs will continue growing in order to keep up with rising threats.

For hands-on IT security learning, you should arrange company-wide competitions and games that encourage employees to figure out how cybercrime could potentially harm and ways to protect themselves and the overall organization against such threats.

Simulations are very effective for preparing your staff against a real breach. Teamwork is a valuable resource in developing and implementing a viable cybersecurity solution.

Many companies combine bug bounty programs with third-party penetration testing. Every organization should have a bug bounty program, but if you’re not ready yet, just make sure you have a way for users to report security issues to you.

In addition, there are automation tools that can perform Penetration Tests, a platform that combines the knowledge, methodology, processes, and toolsets of a hacker.  To put it in simple terms, the automated application will try to hack your network to test your security.

Increase Visibility

With 93% of malware hiding behind encrypted traffic and only 22% of organizations claiming that can prevent malicious access to their service accounts, it’s no wonder that there were more ransomware attacks in the first half of 2023 than in all of 2022. Once a cybercriminal has made their way into the network, you must act within a limited time interval. Clear visibility over network traffic will help stop the cybercriminal from gaining access to company data.

Without full visibility, there will undoubtedly be a way in for hackers without your team spotting them because they typically infiltrate an organization’s network via hidden or sneaky entry points. This way, cyber criminals continue to hide within your network and grant themselves access to the organization’s sensitive information.

Implementing a Security Operations Center along with Endpoint Detection and Response and/or Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools can increase visibility into your organization.

If IT security professionals can better understand “the hacker’s approach” and their “modus operandi”, they will be able to protect their own systems, employees, and customer data.

Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention (DLP) includes tools, processes, and policies specifically used to ensure that sensitive information is not lost, leaked, or misused.

DLP tools help classify data and identify violations of predefined policies. Once identified, DLP enforces remediation, it triggers alerts, utilizes encryption, and other actions to prevent users from accidentally or maliciously sharing data that could expose organizations.

DLP Adoption

According to Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise DLP of 2017, Gartner estimated DLP market would reach USD 1.3 billion in 2020. In 2022, Grand View Research – DLP Market Size and Share Report estimated the global data loss prevention market at USD 1.8 billion and expects an annual growth rate of 22% until 2030.

The data loss prevention market has evolved, now it includes cloud storage, complex security services, such as advanced threat protection, multi factor authentication, etc.

The massive uptick in DLP adoption is not accidental. Here are the main reasons that are driving the wider adoption of data loss prevention programs:

  • Nowadays, there are more places that require protection, such as multiple cloud platforms, complex networks and services which make data protection processes more difficult.
  • Global data protection regulations constantly change, usually tightening data protection requirements.
  • Data breaches are more frequent, potentially exposing a lot more data as people and organizations rely on technology more than ever.
  • Stolen data is worth more.

DLP Best Practices

Determine your main data protection objective.

Are you trying to protect your intellectual property or meet regulatory compliance? Having a clear understanding will allow you to easily determine the most appropriate DLP architecture.

When searching for DLP solutions, cover as many aspects as possible.

  • What types of deployment architectures are offered?
  • Do you need to defend against both internal and external threats?
  • Will users be able to self-classify documents?
  • Are you interested in protecting mainly structured or unstructured data?
  • What compliance regulations are you bound by? Are there any industry-specific standards?
  • How quickly do you have to implement your DLP program?
  • Will you need additional staff to manage your program?
  • What technologies would you like to integrate with your DLP?

Also, a comprehensive DLP solution will provide the IT security team with complete visibility into all data on the network:

Data in use: Protecting data being used by an application or endpoint through user authentication and access control.

Data in motion: Securing transmission of sensitive information while it moves across the network.

Data at rest: Protecting any network-stored data including cloud through access restrictions and user authentication mechanisms.

Always collaborate with all business units and with your IT security provider to define the DLP policies that will govern your organization’s data. This will ensure that all business units are aware of the policies in place.

Define success metrics and share results with business executives. Determine measurable key performance indicators and monitor them closely to determine the efficiency of your DLP program and areas of improvement.

Contextualize suspicious attempts to strengthen prevention measures and remediation activities.

Document your processes carefully. This will help you implement policies consistently, give you a document of record for when reviews are needed, and will also be necessary when onboarding new team members or employees.

Perform regular audits to ensure that your DLP program is working as intended.


DLP is a program, not a product. Observing how users, systems, and events interact is crucial for data protection. Understanding that DLP is a constant process to be continuously worked on will help you achieve long-lasting success.

AI & Cybersecurity

Traditional IT security tools like antiviruses or firewalls function based on a predetermined structure. Such tools come equipped with a list of malware types or blacklisted websites, which must be regularly updated – a system with obvious limitations.

AI combines large data sets and utilizes them based on intuitive processing algorithms. It helps automate operations by processing large amounts of data faster than humans ever could.

Today’s cybersecurity tools integrate such capabilities intended to work with big data.

Artificial intelligence is generally used in cybersecurity for behavioral analysis, threat detection, vulnerability assessment, and incident response.

AI algorithms can analyze network traffic data, learn what normal network traffic patterns look like and based on that can detect patterns and anomalies indicating suspicious attempts and attacks.

AI-powered behavior analysis is used to successfully indicate malicious activities. This makes user activity monitoring and threat detection more effective.

Also, AI-based systems can be used to automatically respond to various threats by limiting user access, terminating connections, quarantining infected devices, disabling user accounts, etc.

Proven Benefits

AI requires preparation and providing the learning models with data to be used as a reference when identifying patterns, but the benefits are obvious. Here are just some of them:

Self-improving models

AI models utilize machine learning to analyze user behavior. After an anomaly is discovered, the system triggers various response actions. Such a system refines its model over time, making it increasingly more accurate.

Secured authentication

The IT security industry is moving away from old security methods such as user/password combinations and looking for ways to make IT security smarter. AI is a valuable addition as it can be integrated with multiple authentication layers to verify a user’s identity.

Using fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, and other AI solutions will help identify fraudulent login attempts, creating a much tighter security mechanism.

Better vulnerability management

Artificial intelligence solutions analyze existing security measures to identify potential gaps, enabling organizations to focus on the most critical areas. This makes troubleshooting more efficient and provides insight into the circumstances faster than any human could.

Improved security-related processes

There are some cybersecurity tasks which are repetitive and monotonous, tasks that may slip by. Fortunately, AI-driven tools can perform all those recurring tasks automatically and only require confirmation before making any changes.

Improved efficiency

Human attention is limited, while AI can cover multiple tasks simultaneously. AI solutions are both time and cost effective.

Balanced workloads

Skilled work isn’t cheap to hire or maintain, so it is in a business’s best interest to ensure the IT security staff’s experience is used on complex tasks. While AI can take care of most manual tasks, human personnel can develop other ways to improve the organization’s cybersecurity posture.

AI-powered Cybersecurity Solutions

Today’s AI capabilities include advanced models allowing them to process large amounts of data in real-time. Here are a few technologies that integrate AI for cybersecurity.

Endpoint Security

Endpoint security uses AI to tack and analyze processes on laptops, desktops, and mobile devices allowing your IT security team to shut down threats before they cause any damage.

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

AI-powered intrusion detection systems are capable of autonomously identifying threats using machine learning models. With enough data to work with and professional training, such models can be very accurate when dealing with potential threats and can help identify signs of intrusion early on.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data loss prevention tools automatically encrypt data before it is transmitted or restrict any unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information. DLP tools are now using AI and machine learning to improve their functionalities and performance.

DLP tools monitor, analyze, and successfully detect potential data exfiltration attempts preventing unauthorized or accidental data leaks.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

AI-powered SIEM tools use behavior analytics and cybersecurity threat feeds to detect abnormal activities. SIEM solutions automate many time-consuming manual tasks such as suspicious activity detection allowing faster incident response.

In Summary

AI can detect in real time potential vulnerabilities within systems and networks, alert security teams, shut down network parts, etc. Unfortunately, cybersecurity threats are increasingly more complex, which is why static models are too slow in today’s cyber landscape.

Microsoft Copilot: Introduction

Microsoft Copilot is an innovative tool that assists users in their daily tasks. It boosts user productivity by harnessing generative AI to provide suggestions and by automating repetitive tasks.

With its intuitive features and integration into the Microsoft 365 suite, Copilot can revolutionize the way we work.

How To Use Microsoft Copilot

The tool offers users access to a wide array of features and resources to help them work faster and better. It even offers tailored recommendations based on individual needs and preferences.

For junior programmers, Copilot might help them better understand programming by providing contextual guidance. This accelerates their learning curve and ensures they start with industry-standard coding practices.

Here are some tips to make Copilot even more efficient:

  • Provide clear instructions within your input.
  • Collaborate with your colleagues who also use Copilot.
  • Install any relevant updates.

Customizing it will enhance its ability to provide tailored suggestions that match your writing style and project requirements.

Important! Copilot has limitations that users should be aware of. For instance, Copilot does not guarantee the correctness or quality of suggestions it generates. Therefore, users should always review AI-generated recommendations and test any piece of code before using it within their projects.

Installing Microsoft Copilot is the first step to enhancing productivity. Copilot can be downloaded from the Microsoft 365 app store or the Microsoft Copilot website. Copilot is also available on iOS and Android.

Just recently, Microsoft launched a consumer-focused paid Copilot plan. This makes Microsoft’s existing services, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and others, far more attractive, as it boosts productivity and efficiency by allowing the user to access Copilot within each one of these applications.

How To Enable Microsoft Copilot

Follow these simple steps to enable the Copilot:

  1. Ensure you have a Microsoft 365 or Copilot Pro subscription and have the latest version of the app (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, etc.) installed on your device.
  2. Open a PowerPoint presentation, or a Word/Excel file.
  3. Go to the “Home” tab and click the “Copilot” button.

Once enabled, you can access its features, from improved auto-complete suggestions based on your writing style, generating relevant images, summarizing web pages, getting real-time grammar and spelling advice, etc. This way, users will be able to collaborate better and manage daily tasks faster.

As you type the instruction, Copilot will generate relevant suggestions based on context and patterns which will speed up your workflow. By adjusting the settings, you can tailor these recommendations to your preferences.

In the first half of 2024, Microsoft is expected to add more languages to Copilot such as, Arabic, Czech, Korean, Norwegian, Dutch, Finnish, and several others.


Microsoft Copilot is an AI-powered tool that uses machine learning algorithms to analyze the context and make relevant recommendations.

It is an example of how AI can augment human capabilities and enable new possibilities for innovation and creativity.

Copilot simplifies certain tasks by automating repetitive processes like writing emails or coding, saving time and effort while improving accuracy. It offers insightful suggestions based on best practices.

Key Features of Microsoft Intune

Microsoft Intune helps organizations efficiently manage the mobile devices their employees utilize to access business assets.

Cloud-based Endpoint Management Solution

Intune allows central control of the endpoints, from software deployment to security policies, devices can be monitored through an easily configurable console.

The scalability of cloud computing and remote monitoring capabilities are undisputed. Therefore, it eliminates the need for onsite servers, it increases productivity and security.

Features & Benefits of Microsoft Intune

Intune allows organizations to manage their devices and applications securely. Its main features include mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) for extra protection of sensitive data.

The platform provides zero-trust security measures so that organizations can comply with industry regulations. It offers support across various operating systems such as Android, iOS, Linux Ubuntu Desktop, macOS, making it a viable solution for a variety of needs in today’s ever-changing tech landscape.

Here are some of the features and benefits of Microsoft Intune:

Intune automates policy deployment and conditional access.

It provides flexibility and control for securing business data, regardless of the device.

Windows Autopilot works seamlessly with Intune, so setting up new devices has never been easier and more secure.

It offers self-service functionalities, such as resetting passwords, installing apps, removing devices, all through the Company Portal app.

Intune integrates with mobile threat defense services, including Microsoft Defender for Endpoint allowing organizations to implement superior threat protection, create security policies, etc.

Microsoft Intune Mitigates IT Security Risks

With Intune, employees can access on-premises data in a secure manner.

By using Intune-managed certificates with a proxy, like Azure’s Active Directory Application Proxy, access to mobile apps that connect to on-premises data can be enabled and the endpoint management solution will ensure it complies with the security policies.

Intune establishes secure access to email and data through Office 365.

Through Intune and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security, your organization can create a conditional access policy to make certain that none of your employees’ apps or devices can access your Office 365 data unless they are compliant with your organization’s security policies.

Intune can help issue highly secure work phones.

Employees must have access to corporate data and applications to manage tasks effectively anytime, anywhere. You need to make sure that business data remains secure and that administrative costs are low.

With Intune’s management solutions, you can give an employee a new iPhone or Samsung device and they just have to follow a straightforward process, a corporate-branded setup to authenticate themselves. By launching the Intune Company Portal app, employees will be able to access the apps the administrator has made available to them.

Intune helps implement Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) protocols for your staff.

Enrolling personal devices into a management tool is a major challenge because many employees don’t want their employers to have any access to their personal devices.

However, Intune offers a BYOD approach that employees can agree to. It manages only the applications that contain corporate data, like Office apps. The organization can implement protection policies that can prevent employees from copying text from a corporate email profile into a consumer email profile, even within the same Outlook mobile app.

Intune allows organizations to issue limited-use shared tablets.

There are several instances when employees must have a device, like a tablet, to accomplish their tasks. You may have noticed several retail workers carrying tablets to check inventories, process sales, assist customers, etc. These tablets are usually configured in limited-use mode, allowing users only to access the applications required for their jobs.

With Microsoft Intune, administrators can provide device-based and app-based access to corporate data.

The organization can provide conditional access to employees based on if the device is corporate-owned or if it is part of a BYOD protocol that the company adhered to.


Microsoft Intune is not just a device management solution. It streamlines cybersecurity as it minimizes the need for multiple security platforms and reduces IT management burdens and costs.

Contact us today for more insights into how Microsoft Intune can strengthen your hybrid workforce’s security and IT management.

Remote Access Security

In today’s dynamic business world, many users are no longer confined to an office. However, the need for secure and convenient access has grown due to emerging cybersecurity threats.

For cybersecurity professionals, it is crucial to understand which remote access security technologies can enable employees to increase productivity, while protecting the organization from malicious actors. For this purpose, companies use remote access security solutions which allow users to authenticate and access business resources from outside the organization’s private network.

A clever remote access solution will always involve the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) functionality to verify the remote user’s identity and the Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality to simplify the remote access process and improve user experience.

Multi-Factor Authentication

The MFA functionality helps organizations defend against credential theft attempts and user impersonation by verifying and confirming the user’s identity.

With MFA, a remote user is required to present several pieces of evidence to gain access to a network or cloud-based application or system. For instance, some information the user knows, like a user/password combination, or something the user possesses, such as an access card or a mobile device for fingerprint or facial scan recognition. Some MFA solutions also take the user’s location into account when applying the access factors.

NOTE! Many compliance standards require MFA for privileged remote access.

Single Sign-On

The single sign-on functionality allows remote users to access multiple applications and systems using just a set of credentials (username and password) or a one-time password. Therefore, single sign-on boosts the user experience by preventing password fatigue and mitigates risk by eliminating reckless user behavior like writing passwords on a piece of paper or using the same credentials for many applications or services.

Adaptive Authentication

Some of the latest remote access security solutions support adaptive authentication which uses relevant data such as the IP address, the device type, user location, time-of-day, etc. and business logic to determine which authentication factors should be applied to a specific remote user in a specific situation. For example, an employee can easily load a business application from a trusted home desktop just by entering the username and password, but to access the same app from a foreign country, the user might also have to enter a one-time access code sent to his mobile phone.

Privileged Access Management (PAM)

Many companies rely on third-party organizations to manage users’ secure remote access. These organizations need privileged access to corporate IT systems to maintain and update access data.

Privileged access management (PAM) solutions allow organizations to securely extend privileged access to third-party vendors without installing any endpoint software, or using a VPN, etc. Such solutions utilize multi-factor authentication to validate and authorize third-party clients.

Best Practices

Enforce a set of protocols that allow admins to control sessions and restrict remote users from certain activities. So, make sure that only authorized users can access and manage resources remotely.

Always apply the least privilege policy to ensure that employees and third parties are only granted the minimum access required to perform their tasks. It is critical to know who or what is requesting access, why, and from where.

Monitor logs and user behavior in real time to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. A complex cybersecurity audit will help identify vulnerabilities and trace suspicious sessions.

Train your employees and ensure they strictly follow the security standards before connecting to the enterprise network. Conduct regular training on the importance of basic cybersecurity policies involving the integrity, confidentiality, accessibility, and availability of critical data.

Final Thoughts

Remote access security solutions allow teleworkers to safely utilize business applications and services. Contact StratusPointIT and find out how to better protect your organization against identity theft.

Penetration Testing: Key Aspects

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is basically a simulated cyberattack that is utilized to identify vulnerabilities and to plan for different defense measures.

Pen tests also boost employee security awareness, estimate the effectiveness of incident response plans, and help evaluate an organization’s compliance.

Testing your staff and processes against emerging cyber threats will help your organization avoid breaches and disruptions ensuring business continuity.

Common Types of Penetration Testing

When running a pen test, it is crucial to remember that there is no perfect test that fits all industries, environments, etc.

Here are some of the most common types of penetration tests.

Internal Pen Testing

It will allow you to assess your organization’s internal systems to find out how a hacker could move throughout your network.

External Pen Testing

It evaluates your Internet-facing systems to determine if there are exploitable vulnerabilities that may expose sensitive data or allow any unauthorized access.

Web Application Pen Test

It assesses your web application typically using a three-phase process:

Reconnaissance is the first phase where the testing team gathers crucial information such as the operating system, services, resources in use, etc.

Discovery is the second phase where the team attempts to identify the vulnerabilities of your web application.

Exploitation is the final phase where the testing team will leverage the discovered vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Wireless Pen Testing

This type of testing will allow you to identify the risks and vulnerabilities associated with your wireless network. The testing team will assess weaknesses such as network misconfigurations, unauthorized wireless devices, etc.

Physical Penetration Testing

The designated team will identify the risks and vulnerabilities to your organization’s physical security by attempting to gain access to a corporate physical device. The team will apply social engineering methods, badge cloning, etc.

When To Conduct a Penetration Test?

The most important time to conduct a penetration test is before a cybersecurity incident occurs.

Unfortunately, there are many organizations that don’t run such tests until after a security breach occurs, so after losing important data, intellectual property, and reputation.

NOTE! If your organization has experienced a breach, a remediation penetration test should be conducted to ensure the vulnerability is fixed.

Penetration tests should be conducted whenever changes are made – new additions to the network infrastructure or whenever key applications get important updates, or at least annually. Factors including company size, infrastructure, regulatory requirements, and emerging threats will determine the most appropriate frequency.

However, testing more often can highlight potential security risks more frequently, giving you a more comprehensive overview of your security status.

Who Performs Such Tests?

While pen testing can be conducted internally, external professionals can offer greater insight, as they have no prior knowledge of your system.

Under US legislation, organizations must sign a consent form outlining the exact area and depth of what is subject to test.

There are three different levels of testing, or methodologies:

  1. Black Box – Zero access to the target environment
  2. Grey Box – Limited access to the target environment
  3. White Box – Administrator access to the target environment

After a Pen Test

  1. Review the final report and discuss the findings with both the external penetration testing team and your in-house cybersecurity team.
  2. Develop a cybersecurity strategy and a remediation plan to address the findings.
  3. Make sure to repeat the tests and run further vulnerability scans to track the success and progress of your patches and upgrades over the long-term.

Pen test results provide detailed insights into the severity of any weakness in your environment. So, you will be able to get actionable findings to help you strengthen your systems’ security.

Acting on the results of pen tests as quickly as possible is crucial for avoiding downtime, disruption and any brand damage caused by potential breaches.


Penetration testing is about developing your organization’s long-term cybersecurity strategy, based on tested and patched real-world vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

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