In the modern age, e-commerce sites must do everything they can to ensure they are prepared for a variety of potential complex attacks and malicious abuses. The rise in hackers in the digital era means high-security measures are paramount to a business attracting and retaining their online customers.
Suppose consumers consider a site to be untrustworthy and feel their sensitive data is not correctly protected. In that case, they will stay as far away as possible, and it will be difficult for a business to shake that negative reputation. Not only that, but the legal consequences of customers experiencing unsafe transactions on the site can damage a business significantly.
A popular way for e-commerce websites to test their security measures is with website penetration testing. This assessment is an intentionally planned and simulated cyber-attack against the computer system which checks for exploitable vulnerabilities. When done right, website penetration testing can save you a lot of time, hassle, and cost, as well as preventing your website from being breached.
Read on as we outline why a penetration test may be necessary for you, what the test will focus on and how to get started in testing your e-commerce website.
What Does a Penetration Test Entail?
Every penetration test starts with a comprehensive audit of the website.
The audit will assess every aspect of the site’s security, gain the necessary intelligence and pinpoint any immediate problems before the real tests underway. This is an essential step as the site may have been breached previously, requiring urgent attention.
An audit will also be useful for defining the test’s scope and understanding the systems that need addressing first.
The next step is to understand how the website will respond to penetration testing.
Inspections will be made to the application’s code to see how it behaves in a running state. This is a handy way of giving a real-time view of the site’s performance and will ensure it won’t be put at any risk.
The test then begins by gaining access to the site and stimulating a range of cyber-attacks on a copied environment. Applications will be scanned, and business logic tests will be undertaken to judge any weak spots in the site’s security and see what it deems a potential threat.
Testers will exploit any vulnerabilities they find by escalating user privileges, stealing data, and intercepting traffic to mimic a real attack. Potential problems areas such as weak data encryption or hard-coded values such as passwords are common areas to attack.
They will then evaluate the extent of in-depth damage a hacker could potentially cause by compromising the weaknesses found in each component.
Finally, the results are compiled using a Common Vulnerability Scoring System to give a clear picture of the website’s security.
The analysis will include any recommendations from the testing team to highlight the best ways to mitigate any risks associated with each security weakness. Proper analysis and swift action are vital to patch any vulnerabilities and protect against potential attacks.
This is incredibly helpful if you wish to train your IT team to manage careful security monitoring in the future and educate them on how to spot possible threats to your security systems when doing updates. A penetration test may be the first step in building a new security system for all your e-commerce applications.
What are the Different Methods of a Penetration Test?
Whoever conducts the penetration test will consider thoroughly which penetration test method is right for the e-commerce site at hand.
Results can vary massively from test to test, and the benefit of conducting different types of tests means you can gage a better view of a site’s security posture and how easy it would be to hack.
An external penetration test will only target assets that are available on the internet. Typically, hackers will look to gain access to external spots such as a company website, email accounts, and domain name servers to extract data.
Internal testing will see a tester look to gain access to information blocked behind a firewall. This heavily mimics a phishing attack and simulates how the site will cope in this scenario.
A wireless penetration test will check the security of devices with wireless capabilities within the company. This form of testing is super detailed and will consider the business’s entire range of tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
Client-side penetration testing pinpoints threats that emerge locally from programs or applications like Putty, Git clients and web browsers. There may be a potentially major flaw in the software application running on a singular user’s workstation, which could cause issues for the whole company.
Mainly used as a valuable training exercise for IT professionals, targeted testing sees the tester and security personnel work together to spot unusual patterns. This is ideal for giving real-time feedback from a hacker’s view on any potential slipups.
How Often is a Penetration Test Needed?
Hackers will always develop new ways to infiltrate security systems as they learn more ways to threaten e-commerce sites.
Ideally, penetration testing should be performed regularly at least once a year to allow businesses enough time to locate and mitigate new security risks. As well as regularly scheduled testing, tests should also be run once new office locations are formed, significant modifications are made to the internal system, or end-user policies are altered.
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