Cybersecurity is of utmost importance to businesses of all types. Part of being secure is proper penetration testing.

There are many ways that you can improve the cybersecurity of your business, but how do you know which aspects of your system are vulnerable or the security investments you need to make that will offer the best protection? Conducting regular penetration testing (or “pen testing”) is an important way to identify and address exposures in your defenses.

But, how should you go about choosing a penetration test provider to deliver a high-quality engagement? Here we look at the key factors you need to consider when selecting a security specialist to work with.

Professional Certification

How do you know that you can trust a penetration test provider to do a great job and conduct the assessment to the highest technical and ethical standards? One of important places to start is ensuring that they are fully qualified and trained in the services that they provide Look for businesses that offer CREST-certified penetration testing, as well as have a supporting range of recognized cybersecurity qualifications and credentials.

Qualified providers will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the latest hacking techniques and procedures and offer assurance that they conduct assessments as safely as possible, as to avoid any possible damage or disruption.

A Proven Track Record

Don’t forget that one of the most important ways of verifying the quality of a provider is their reputation. The provider should be able to share excellent client references from businesses similar to yours.

Don’t settle for businesses offering a cheap service with no proof that they can carry out the work properly. This could lead to a situation where you have had penetration testing carried out, but you haven’t received the level of support needed.

Experience Performing a Range of Testing

There are many different forms of pen testing to choose from. You might require very specific web application test or a broader assessment such as a network penetration test. In many cases you will require a range of testing capabilities, so make sure that your provider is experienced in providing them all.

A provider who lacks the necessary skills may not possess a thorough understanding of the security risks most common to the type of test requested.

Wide Industry Knowledge

As well as having experience carrying out multiple different forms of test, it is also worth establishing whether the provider has direct expertise in your particular industry. While they may be used to carrying out pen testing, if they have never worked in your industry before they may not be aware of specific challenges faced.

It could even be the case that they are not familiar with the sorts of software and applications that are used in your industry. This makes a big difference in their ability to deliver an effective assessment.

Thorough Reporting and Feedback

In order to get the most value for your penetration test, it is important to determine the right type of tests for your needs. If you have only budgeted for a two-day assessment, it is essential to make the most of that time. That is why it is a good idea to work with cybersecurity specialists who are willing to go the extra mile to understand your requirements and help scope a test that will offer the best return for your budget.

It’s also worth asking providers about the level of support they will provide post-assessment. Good penetration testing providers won’t just be good at discovering vulnerabilities – they’ll also provide the advice you need to help address short- and long-term risks.

Upon completion of the test, check that the provider will supply a full written report that details and prioritizes any weaknesses identified, then recommend remedial actions.

Flexibility

A good pen test provider needs to be flexible. Check whether a provider will perform testing outside of office hours, as well as whether they can offer on-site as well as remote testing. The needs and requirements of your business need to come first and shouldn’t be determined by whether or not it is convenient for the other party.

Choose specialists who are willing to work with you to customize the scope and timing of testing and can be trusted to act as your long-term cybersecurity partner.

Written by: Mike James, BOSS Contributor