Business Security

6 things to look for when choosing your penetration test company

Posted on 2020-01-29 by Alexei Doudkine in Business Security


Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing companies flog cheap, crappy scans as penetration tests. It insults penetration testers like myself, but worse than that, it exploits the unsuspecting clients that genuinely want to improve their security.

When a company realises that they need a penetration test, this task is usually delegated to one person who is almost never a penetration tester themselves. They may have had some experience in the past with selecting a company to perform penetration testing and the outcomes may or may not have been satisfactory. A lot of uncertainty in that last sentence, isn’t there?

The fact of the matter is, penetration testing can be a bit of a mystery and it can be extremely hard to know if the one you chose will be good or not. It’s like when you go to the mechanic to service your car. You drive your car in, leave it for a day, pick it up and drive it out. The car feels exactly the same. Did the mechanic do anything, or did you just pay for some very expensive parking?

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The easiest way to test your detection and response capability

Posted on 2020-01-21 by Matt Strahan in Business Security


Every year there’s a guy who comes out and tests my smoke alarm. The smoke alarm guy visually inspects the alarm, runs the internal test, and then uses a small device that, in my head, I ignorantly name “the smoke gun” to trigger the alarm. It’s a simple process that makes sure that the alarm still works.

Watching him work, I thought it curious how so many organisations check their smoke alarms this way but have probably never actually tested whether their security systems are working or not. Probably most organisations don’t even know specifically what their security systems will detect and probably don’t have the capability or know how of testing their security system themselves. I’m going to go a bit further and show my cynicism here: Probably most organisations don’t actually know what happens when their security system alerts, don’t know what the alert looks like, and wouldn’t know what the alert would mean. It’d be like someone wandering through their home looking at the box on the roof and saying “that’s an alarm. I don’t know what it sounds like. When it goes off something is wrong – but I don’t know what it could be!”

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I make toasters

Posted on 2019-12-23 by Matt Strahan in Business Security


In the beginnings of my career in security, I spent a long time on the technical side as a penetration tester. I was a hacker, tasked with breaking into their websites and networks, trying to test their security. Although sometimes that job can be like banging your head against a brick wall, when you get in there is definitely a rush that comes with it. When something you try works, there’s a feeling of exhilaration and victory.

I knew why I was doing it. It was fun, and I was getting paid for it. I lived for that thrill of getting in.

Being focused on what I was trying to do, I wasn’t really looking to see why the customer was getting me to do it. Why were they getting me to hack their organisation?

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