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Increasing confidence in pentests: how to hold providers and testers accountable?

Explore the importance of accountability in penetration testing. Learn how to choose the right provider, set security boundaries, and monitor testing activity.

Balazs PoznerNovember 27, 2023 · 5 min read · Last Updated:

Penetration testing is a critical part of an organization’s security strategy to help identify vulnerabilities and develop plans to address them. Yet, to be truly confident that you’re getting real value for your money, you’ll need to make sure that there’s a strong sense of accountability throughout the entire process.

In this blog post, we discuss the measures you can take before, during, and after a penetration test to enhance accountability among both the penetration testers and the service providers.

Before starting the pentest project: choose your pentest provider wisely

A successful pentest project begins with a crucial initial step: choosing the right pentest provider. It’s important to recognize that not all pentest providers are created equal, which underscores the importance of dedicating time and attention to this selection process, reading reviews, comparing options, and asking the right questions. Dive into their methodologies, get a clear picture of their testing scope, understand how they report vulnerabilities, and make sure their testing is comprehensive.

The pentest provider and your team will need to be on the same page regarding the importance of transparency and accountability. A trustworthy pentest provider doesn’t just provide a service; they’re genuinely committed to facilitating a strong collaboration with your team. This assures that the discovery of vulnerabilities isn’t the end of the story but rather the beginning of a process of setting the stage for effective remediation.

In short, the pentest provider you opt for will have a substantial impact on the outcome and level of security of your pentest project. Don’t underestimate the importance of making the right decision.

Starting the pentest project: set up security boundaries

Another crucial move to increase accountability in your pentest projects involves establishing solid security boundaries. One vital component of this is creating a clear divide between your trusted pentesters and potential intruders. With the help of HackGATE’s authentication feature, you can enforce robust authentication procedures before granting ethical hackers entry to your system. This essentially allows you to efficiently separate unknown intruders from your bona fide penetration testers, guaranteeing that pentesters can be held accountable at every step.

In addition to authentication features, HackGATE also offers a valuable monitoring tool for anomaly detection and identifies any suspicious activity that deviates from established baselines. This system is designed to flag any unusual or suspicious activities that stray from the established baselines. It functions as an early warning system, affording you the ability to spot security risks at their inception, long before they have a chance to evolve into serious threats.

During the pentest project: monitor testing traffic and activity in real-time

Maintaining active surveillance over the actions of pentesters is critical for gaining insights into the data they may access. To grasp the full scope of your testing traffic and activity, it’s essential to maintain vigilance and continuously monitor the pentest and the data around it. HackGATE provides real-time, clear, and detailed insights into your pentests, including

  • Attack types
  • Severity of issues
  • Duration of tests
  • HTTP requests
  • Functionalities assessed
  • Active users

As a result, you can extend the monitoring of penetration testers beyond their IP address, delivering invaluable insights throughout the project. This increased transparency equips you with the knowledge you need to make well-informed decisions. Having this kind of insight in a single dashboard also gives you more control over your pentest projects and enables you to hold pentesters and providers accountable.

After the pentest project: Keep reports and activity logs

By keeping thorough records of all activities, your organizations will gain a powerful edge in pinpointing vulnerabilities and potential threats, and crafting the necessary response strategies. The act of preserving these logs and reports is a critical step towards the protection of sensitive data and the preservation of an organization’s digital infrastructure’s integrity.

Keeping these records also comes useful during compliance audits, serving as proof that your company’s systems were thoroughly tested, with details around who did the testing, when, and what methods they used. Moreover, you can readily share these insights with your team, facilitating a collaborative approach to security and ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to safeguarding your organization’s digital assets.

Summing up

Being able to hold pentest providers and pentesters accountable is critical. To achieve this, it’s essential to carefully select the right provider, establish strong security boundaries, and continuously monitor pentesting activities in real time. Furthermore, maintaining thorough activity logs and reports enhances traceability, transparency, and collaboration.

By implementing these measures in place, you can build trust, identify vulnerabilities, and equip your organizations with the means to develop proactive response plans.

Try HackGATE for free.

Written by Balazs Pozner
CEO and Founder of HACKRATE Ltd.

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