Advanced Penetration Testing: Why Organizations Need a Certified Security Analyst

As hackers improve, skills and hacking methodologies become more sophisticated, companies look for special tools to defend their applications and data. One of the critical tools is penetration testing. Penetration testing can help determine vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure, both software and hardware, and in the organization as a whole. It can also test the sensitive areas of IT infrastructure that are avenues to cyber attacks, and discover new weaknesses in existing software.

This type of testing system can also help develop and implement adequate controls and suggest patches and updates to fix vulnerabilities.

Knowing The Organization’s Cybersecurity Needs

Global cybercrime costs reached $600 billion in 2017 and have risen more since then. According to Forbes, a ransomware attack hits an organization every 40 seconds. At least 71% of those attacks are successful!

This statistic shows that cybersecurity is no longer a recommendation but an essential move for every organization. While some organizations continually increase their budget to include new cybersecurity policies and protocols, many organizations still wonder where they should start.

penetration testing

Where to Begin – A Must Have for Cybersecurity Teams

Penetration testing (or pen testing) is a method of evaluating the security of an organization by simulating cyber attacks from an unknown source. In simple terms, it is an authorized test to establish how weak the organization’s cybersecurity is and what can be done to strengthen it.

A penetration tester can think beyond the norms of security to infiltrate any barrier using open source technologies, PTES, NIST800-115, PCI DSS, and much more. PTES is a Penetration Testing Execution Standard which consists of seven phases of penetration testing. PTES helps perform pen-testing in any environment. NIST800-115 is recognized as an industry standard to perform penetration testing, as noted in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

By using these open source tools while penetration testing, an organization remains in compliance with the law and defined industry-standards.

However, finding a penetration tester that possesses all the right knowledge, skills, and abilities is not an easy task. To meet the ultimate penetration testing requirements, the organization needs a skilled and talented penetration tester – a Certified Security Analyst (ECSA).

Certified Security Analysts – How To Choose?

A certified professional is proficient with advanced tools and methodologies used to analyze and comprehend in-depth vulnerabilities to ensure defensive methods are fully exploited. However, a simple face-to-face interview may not be enough to showcase that the candidate possesses the right skill-set.

This is where certification plays a significant role. However, with the number of certifications present in the market, it can be confusing picking out which certification is genuine.

Here are a few questions to ask about the certification attained:

  1. Is the Exam Supervised?

If it is an online exam, then ensure that it is 100% verified, live, and supervised. The examination must test the candidate’s ability to perform penetration testing, understand exploits, customize payloads, and make crucial decisions during the various phases of the testing process. When an individual is tested in such an environment, it gives a clear picture of what a penetration test will look like in real life. This defines the authenticity of the certified security analyst and makes an individual competent to perform coherently, even during adverse situations.

  1. Does it focus on real-life methodologies?

Ensure that the latest version of the program focuses on the latest methodologies, tools, and concepts that are updated from time-to-time. The entire program must concentrate on real-time methodologies that relate to the most recent cybercrime experience. Services like network penetration, social engineering penetration, wireless penetration, cloud penetration, etc. which are real-time challenges, must be comprehensively updated in the program. It should also include a wide range of scoping and engaging penetration testing methodologies which are often overlooked in many penetration testing programs.

  1. What approach did the training take – manual or automated?

A perfect penetration testing attempt is one that employs the best combination of manual and automated penetration tools. For example, only simple logic testing can be performed using automated means. There are other instances where there is a need to switch from one approach to another. Some people only learn automated penetration testing under the impression that automation is the future. That does not create competence in real-life challenges.

  1. Does the training have a hands-on aspect?

To be proficient in any specialization in cybersecurity, the program should be backed by extensive practical sessions. A hands-on lab facility to practice penetration testing, from scoping and engagement to report writing will help develop much-needed hands-on skills. Only then can a wide range of security threats be covered adequately.

  1. Does it cover report writing?

A penetration tester who cannot document the penetration process performed and recommend necessary changes to avoid future vulnerabilities will not be successful. No matter how efficiently the penetration test, without a report to management, the penetration test is incomplete.

Where To Find the Perfect Penetration Tester

EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) is a comprehensive, interactive, standards-based, intensive training program that teaches professional real-life penetration testing.

Though many penetration testing programs are based on generic kill chain methodology, the ECSA represents a set of recognizable comprehensive methods. The program covers various pen-testing requirements across different verticals. The methodologies learned through the ECSA program can be applied to test via the ECSA (Practical) exam, which is online and supervised.

ECSA is mapped to NICE2.0 Framework: The ECSA is mapped to NICE framework’s Analyze (AN) and Collect and Operate (CO) specialty area. The mapping of the program to two primary NICE specialties makes it popular among employers. This creates employment opportunities for certified professionals.

ECSA’s templates of penetration testing for future reference: The ECSA program comes with a bundle of standard templates. These templates are helpful to students during the scoping and engagement process as well as when collecting and reporting test results. The model templates are a handy reference for students.

ECSA’s iLabs Cyber Range: An additional benefit of the ECSA program is that it provides an opportunity to experience iLabs cyber range. It is the most cost-effective and easy to use live range lab that can be accessed 24×7 remotely with one simple click. iLabs cyber range allows students to dynamically access a variety of virtual machines preconfigured with vulnerabilities, scripts, exploits, and tools from anywhere with an internet connection.

ECSA’s Report Writing: A dedicated module that describes the necessary skills required to draft an accurate penetration testing report. ECSA (Practical) exam demands the same skills where report writing skills are equally considered in the assessment.

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Alan Gray

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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