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Penetration Testing as a Service

NetSPI's 'advice': better platforms for PTaaS
Here I present this blog post based on the information given on February 7th by Reynolds, from NetSPI, in his webinar: Scaling Your Security Program with Penetration Testing as a Service. You can also learn how we at Fluid Attacks can help you with Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS).
User icon Felipe Ruiz
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2020-03-03



Today, cybersecurity risks are becoming prominent, growing year by year, affecting large numbers of organizations. Many of them have not maintained basic security principles in favor of their systems. Sometimes only using point in time testing, which is not proving effective enough. However, it is also worth noting that in recent years many companies have committed to increasing their budgets in cybersecurity.

We can think about the security of the systems of the organizations that are really committed to their own information and that of their users (and following Reynolds in his approaches). According to that, we can highlight an ideal state in cybersecurity that includes an improved, very detailed report of the findings in the tests (threats or vulnerabilities), and accelerated remediation of them.

Not only that, but also a personalized experience for clients. They could easily and quickly interact or communicate with the system penetration testers. And also understand without problem the available, updated, and continuously accessible reports. So that based on them, they could act diligently and promptly achieve the requested remediation of issues.

While the above can significantly improve the relationship between vendor and client. It is still common to see companies that maintain a process that Reynolds calls "traditional" in their pentesting work. That is, point in time pentesting. Here, the client delivers, for example, a URL address, and then the vendor simply tells him that in about three weeks, he will provide the results.

As the author shares with us, it is a rather static and serialized process with the following components: Presales - Kickoff - Execution - Delivery - Remediation.

The results that are usually delivered in this traditional pentesting process are accompanied by remediation instructions in a PDF report. This ends up being something like (Reynolds says): "use your data, good luck, see you next year."

It is then suggested that an excellent pentesting partner accompanies his client throughout the entire process. And thus facilitates his or her understanding of the findings and their remediation.

This is where the need arises to use a platform, as a product for the client, to assist the Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS).

Vulnerabilities management platform

platform
Figure 1. Photo by Marcus Castro on Unsplash

But then, what elements should that platform have?

As mentioned above, such a platform should allow the pentesting user to communicate immediately with the team of cybersecurity experts involved. At the same time, the platform must show the reports of the findings or vulnerabilities in real-time. It must suggest their prioritization, and clear enough instructions to achieve their remediation. All of this is intended to keep clients continuously active in the process. Preferably, with the necessary information at hand and sufficient control.

More specifically, on a vulnerabilities management platform, the user must have access to different project details, such as activities and comments, and above all, to the findings. These should be displayed in order of severity and dates of discovery and closure (if such was the case). Also with description, business impact information, and remediation instructions (step-by-step). A particular vulnerability should be accompanied in its presentation by the affected source, affected address, attack parameter, and, of course, its state of remediation.

The platform should offer illustrative and straightforward graphics on the evolution of the project. Having multiple possibilities of filtering by different variables (e.g., dates and status). The users must be able to distinguish which structures of their systems have been evaluated (e.g., web apps, external networks, clouds), and who has been in charge. Besides, the users should be allowed to make new requests for evaluation and to obtain sufficient information for the understanding of the penetration tests.

It is also recommended that a platform contains a section for verifying the findings. In which the customer is allowed to observe a step-by-step reproduction of the results. The aim is to understand, with texts, videos, or other material, what had to be done and introduced within a particular structure to obtain specific answers translated into vulnerabilities.

At this point, it should be noted that within Fluid Attacks we have a platform similar to that described, called Fixes (formerly known as Integrates). Fixes facilitates the management of vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are stored in Fixes. Access to their evidence is provided there at different stages of the process and in real-time. With Fixes, our client can classify and prioritize vulnerabilities, define their treatment, and maintain a constant check of their status and remediation progress.

But, well, closing with what we could get from the webinar (which you can find here). As an essential and summarizing idea, the author highlighted the necessity to make pentesting processes more transparent, and yes, more friendly to customers. That’s something we’re also looking for!

PD. Don’t forget that at Fluid Attacks, in addition to infrastructure and applications, we also evaluate source code. Besides, we provide black box, gray box, and white box testing. Contact us, and we will give you more information.


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Felipe Ruiz



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