INSIGHT: The Importance of Annual Penetration Testing

INSIGHT: The Importance of Annual Penetration Testing

In a world increasingly dependent on technology, cyber security has become an essential requirement to protect our data from malicious actors and criminals. To stay one step ahead of potential threats, it is important to regularly conduct penetration tests – also known as pen tests – on our systems. These are simulated cyber-attacks performed against your computer system to identify weaknesses that attackers could exploit.

Why does an organisation need a Penetration Test?

  1. It helps organisations assess their security posture by providing them with detailed information about potential vulnerabilities in their network. This information can then be used to patch up any flaws before they can be exploited by malicious actors.
  2. It allows them to stay one step ahead of attackers as they will identify any new threats quickly and take action accordingly. This proactive approach ensures that their data remains secure from harm.
  3. A penetration test allows them to understand their attack surface area so they can better prepare for future cyber-attacks and respond more efficiently if an incident does occur. Knowing which components of the system could be targeted gives them a much better chance of defending themselves from attack than if they waited until after the fact.
  4. In some industries, penetration testing is a requirement as part of compliance this is particularly relevant in the Healthcare industry when working with the National Health Service (NHS) through digital services or as part of Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

Why carry out regular testing?

Annual penetration testing should be part of every organisation’s comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Regularly running tests helps detect any potential vulnerabilities in your network before they can be exploited by an attacker. The frequency of penetration testing will depend on the size and complexity of the network, but most experts recommend running tests at least once or twice a year for smaller networks and quarterly or even monthly tests for larger ones. Doing this ensures that any newly discovered vulnerabilities can be addressed quickly before they are exploited.

Penetration Testing: Data and Statistics

Penetration Testing in Numbers:

  • 73% of successful breaches in the corporate sector were carried out by penetrating web applications through their vulnerabilities (Source: Astra Security)
  • According to the Ponemon Institute, 1 in 5 companies do not test their software for security vulnerabilities
  • Only 5.3% of cyberattacks against financial institutions are successful, but that is because the financial sector was full of early adopters of penetration testing and cybersecurity (Source: ERM Protect)
  • The top 3 areas of focus for penetration tests are servers, web applications, and databases (Source: Astra Security)
  • Only 32% of organizations said they conduct a pentest annually or bi-annually (Source: Astra Security)
  • In 2021, 75% of penetration tests revealed a “medium risk flaw”; in 2019 it was 20% (Source: Bulletproof)

According to Fortra, in 2022 the top three motives for organisations requiring penetrating testing were:

  • Compliance (75% of respondents, up 5% from 2021)
  • Measuring security posture (75% of respondents, up 2% from 2021)
  • Vulnerability management programs (57%, down 17% from 2021)

Will a Penetration Test cover all my Cyber Security requirements?

It’s important to note, however, that a penetration test does not replace other security measures like patch management or vulnerability scans, as these will monitor all traffic coming into and out of the system. It is still recommended having multiple layers of defense in place to protect against both known and unknown threats.

Who carries out Penetration Testing and what is covered?

Penetration testing is carried out by certified ethical hackers who have expert knowledge about security techniques used by malicious actors. They use automated tools and manual techniques to search for weaknesses that can be exploited with standard attack methods. Once these findings have been identified, organisations can then take steps towards mitigating their risks such as updating software vulnerabilities, encrypting sensitive data, and strengthening passwords/authentication protocols for better access control.

These tests also help organisations understand their attack vulnerabilities so they can better prepare for future cyber-attacks and respond more efficiently if an incident occurs. Knowing which components of the system could be targeted can be extremely useful when responding to threats as well as when designing new defence strategies. By understanding these weak points in advance, organisations are in a much better position to defend themselves if attacked than if they wait until after an attack has occurred.


Annual penetration testing is an integral part of any effective cybersecurity program; it provides organisations with insight into potential weaknesses which can otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late and allows them to take pre-emptive action to mitigate risks accordingly. In addition to being able to respond more efficiently if attacked, regular pen testing also gives organisations the information needed so they can better address future cyber threats before it’s too late; something that has become increasingly important as we progress further into this digital age where cybercrime continues to be a growing threat against us all!

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