Penetration testing has traditionally been formed by external or third-party consultants. Increasingly, organizations are moving those teams in-house, hiring and training ethical hackers to perform regular pentesting on in-house environments. That’s often crucial for organizations using continuous delivery or deployment, where new risks are constantly introduced to the application, and external pentesting as a standard would be expensive.
For that reason, it’s not always as easy as “choosing third-party pentesting or not”. Often, organizations need a mix of internal and external cybersecurity measures, whether internal and external pentesting, internal scanning and external pentesting, etc. A good cybersecurity profile is diverse, and that includes utilizing both internal and external perspectives.
Reasons to Outsource Pentesting
The three primary reasons to outsource pentests to an external team include due diligence, infrastructure and internal expertise, and regulatory compliance.
- An external pentest team is better-able to assess infrastructure, security measures, and mitigation measures from an external perspective, better taking on the role of a hacker. Without internal knowledge of how things work and why, ethical hackers can deliver a much less biased look at vulnerabilities
- Most organizations don’t have the internal expertise to conduct a full pentest without specifically building a pentest team – which may involve lengthy hiring processes and training, and then maintaining payroll for someone who isn’t needed all the time.
- Professional pentesters are normally very familiar with regulatory compliance and offer tests to specifically help you pass those audits – and many specifically require external pentesters. Internal teams will require training in relevant compliance measures.
Essentially, hiring internal pentesters and maintaining the infrastructure to align pentests with development, regulatory requirements, etc., can be expensive. For many organizations, that is more expensive than fully outsourcing pentesting, while not meeting the due diligence requirements set by most regulatory compliance.
Internal Security Scanning and Assessments, External Pentesting
One of the most cost-effective strategies for software companies is to leverage a mix of internal cybersecurity with internal scanners and assessment teams. Then, you can leverage third party pentesting at key points such as major updates.
This effectively shifts pentesting into a role as a layer of security in your overall cybersecurity strategy, meaning that it verifies existing security measures, while using human insight to discover vulnerabilities software and simpler assessments could not. Internally, scanners integrated into your development pipeline will help you catch obvious issues, to prevent human error, and otherwise improve the security of your final product. But, with regular third-party pentesting, you’ll have an expert opinion on deeper security issues to add to that.
Taking that approach will free you from having to build and maintain an internal pentest team and will provide enough security for most organizations.
Security Regulations May Require Both
While most organizations can easily get away with fully external pentesting, some need both. For example, financial organizations that have to be compliant with EU DORA regulations will need internal pentest teams supplemented by regular external and third party pentesting. That may require more infrastructure than an organization with lighter security needs.
Eventually, third-party pentesting or outsourced pentesting is normally considered to be more secure than internal pentesting – that’s because external and neutral third-party assessments are more likely to find issues from a hacker’s point of view, rather than from an internal perspective. Normally, shifting pentesting to an external team will create vastly different results than if you run the same assessment internally.
For most organizations, the best practice is to maintain an internal security team composed of developers and IT staff, who can work in collaboration with an external pentest team. Then, the pentest team can supplement ongoing cybersecurity measures, testing major platform updates, meeting regulatory compliance requirements, etc., while the internal team manages day-to-day security and maintenance.
If you’re looking for a third-party pentest team to supplement your cybersecurity, Cyver can help. We offer pentest-as-a-service, complete with a portal and dashboard, where your team can view and manage vulnerabilities and remediation, request pentests, and directly contact pentesters. Get in touch here.