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Data Breach Prevention: Why You Should Hire a Hacker (and What to Look For)

Posted by Security Steve on Feb 22, 2016



As cyber attacks grow in number and severity, it’s crucial for SMEs to ensure that their networks are secure. One tactic they can use to prevent a breach from happening is hiring a penetration tester (or “pen tester”). A pen tester is a qualified professional who will attempt authorized intrusions into a company’s systems for the purpose of documenting vulnerabilities.


Companies need to think about when a pen tester would be most beneficial. But when hiring one, they also need to know what kind of qualifications and skills they should look for.

Qualities to Consider

Businesses should be careful to choose a credible pen tester. You can assess their reputation by checking to see if the potential ethical hacker participates in conferences, contributes to open-source projects, and responsibly publishes vulnerabilities.


 Other considerations include the pen tester's communication skills, technical expertise, and experience level. The hacker needs to be able to write a clear and thorough report in both a technical and non-technical manner so that the organization knows what actions to take to address the issue. These reports are helpful for identifying computer weaknesses early on, before a hack can occur.

Proof of Vulnerability

A major reason so many businesses keep suffering devastating data breaches is that their decision makers may believe they cannot afford the time or budget to invest in cybersecurity. Learning about solutions such as SIEM is time-consuming, and paying staff to conduct round-the-clock network security monitoring is expensive. In the face of such challenges, companies can be tempted to leave cybersecurity for another day—a choice that puts them at risk of serious hacks.


A pen tester can help demonstrate the necessity of strong cybersecurity practices. They can break into the company's networks—ethically and with permission—in order to prove that the business is vulnerable. The pen tester documents all the weak spots in a report that the company can use to fix the vulnerabilities and secure their computer systems.


For example, a pen tester can be useful when a company needs dramatic proof of its systems' unprotected areas in order to convince decision makers to fund defensive measures.

Regulatory Compliance

Another reason to hire a pen tester is to stay compliant with regulations. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) provides security measures for organizations handling branded credit cards; one measure is penetration tests.


When the PCI Council published the Penetration Testing Guidance in 2015, the chief technology officer Troy Leach called the practice “a critical component” of PCI DSS and said pen testing “shines a light on weak points within an organization’s payment security environment which, if unchecked, could leave payment card data vulnerable.”


In short, another instance when it's good to hire a pen tester is when businesses need to remain compliant with regulations such as PCI DSS. Otherwise, they can face fines or worse, run the risk of losing financial information to malicious individuals or organizations.

Other Security Concerns

Penetration testing is just one aspect of cybersecurity. Businesses need to look at other components of cyber defense, such as network security monitoring and managed security services, in order to keep their systems fully protected. EiQ solutions, such as SOCVue, can help detect weak points in a network early on an ongoing basis so that IT teams can work quickly to mend the potential problem and prevent future cyber attacks.


 More and more, organizations who were previously understaffed, underbudgeted, and overwhelmed are finding that EiQ’s hybrid SaaS security services that combine the best people, process, and technology are a welcome change from going it alone. EiQ is transforming how mid-market organizations build enterprise-class security programs. Acting as an extension of our customers’ IT teams, EiQ’s SOCVue provides continuous security operations based on best-of-breed technology at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions. EiQ is a trusted advisor to organizations that need to improve their IT security and compliance posture by protecting their infrastructure against cyber threats and vulnerabilities. To learn more, please request a demo today!


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Photo: everything possible/Shutterstock

Tags: Data Breach, Cybersecurity, Hacking, IT Security, Ethical Hacking

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