The need for penetration testing services arose a century back when the attacks on the systems became frequent. Lots of companies started losing their sensitive data and it affected their customers in the worst way possible.
The loss of sensitive data is exactly when (and why) the world saw another technical industry rising.
You can see one pen testing company giving way to a whole new industry of penetration testing. The company collected the best tech brains and asked them to come up with solutions to stop cybercriminals from harming organizations and individuals.
However, the field of cybercriminals and testers changes faster than any other technical field.
Cyber Criminals keep coming up with new sorts of viruses and cyber-attacks. To save people from falling into these traps, testing companies needed to evolve enough to plan for these viruses and stay one step ahead of the criminals.
Let’s dive into the history of penetration testing to see how it has evolved over time.
Penetration Testing in the Beginning
Businesses always had a reason to opt for penetration testing to stay at a great distance from malware and other viruses.
First of all, penetration testing was only designed for systems — making them secure from every angle. Soon it was discovered that a business can be targeted through phishing and social presence as well.
The multi-angled attacks forced penetration testing companies to come up with solutions for every possible cyber threat.
Most of the time, testing was done manually where a team of testers would sit together, understand the software, list down all the requirements, and build test cases.
These test cases were then run one by one and the status of every test case was recorded. In the end, a report was prepared for the developers to understand the possible loopholes present, ways to recreate them, and ideas to cover them.
Different techniques were introduced in the market to suit different requirements of the people.
However, the steps were almost always the same since it involved a team of human testers to carry out all the activities. Then came the era of more advanced technologies; ones powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The Machine Learning tech was smart but was unguarded and open for the cybercriminals to attack and get hang of it.
Although every pen testing company felt it was a good idea to use manual testing for this new category of tech, IoT, they failed most of the time. The failure clearly called for new ways to be devised and used for the betterment of the organizations and individuals using AI and ML technology gadgets.
The Era of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Although testers were trying their best to fight new cyber threats with the help of manual testing, they lost the battle many times.
In the hands of criminals, Artificial intelligence started becoming more of a threat rather than being a blessing.
When AI became a threat to criminals is when the world of pen testing introduced a new turn in history.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning were made a part of penetration testing. Different AI and ML techniques and tools were developed to help catch malware and viruses present in the system.
Now, you must be wondering if artificial intelligence is so strong in the hands of criminals, should it not offer more benefits when used for pen testing?
Obviously, it should offer more benefits with pen testing — so here is how penetration testing companies are evolving with AI and ML embedded in their technologies and techniques:
Better Information Gathering
One of the most important stages of the whole pen-testing activity is gathering information. It is also known as the reconnaissance stage.
According to experts, if the testers manage to gather more data, in the beginning, the chances of their success gets even more than double.
However, it is easy to say that and a lot difficult to do. In a pen testing activity, the team has only a limited amount of time to spend on gathering data. It is hard to ensure that the quality of the gathered data is the best.
With AI as constant support, a great amount of quality data can be gathered in a limited amount of time. One can even make use of Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning to ensure a good profile of data is built with lots of details.
Testing a lot of systems manually takes a lot of time. Also, since humans are bound to make mistakes, a lot of times loopholes go unnoticed in the system causing trouble later.
When it comes to scanning hundreds of systems, you can imagine the havoc manual testing can bring.
AI-empowered scanning ensures comprehensive coverage and good interpreted results. It can also be used to make a few amendments in the code where needed.
Overall, it saves a lot of time and effort. Moreover, AI offers good test management and automatic creation of test cases. Hence, it makes your systems secure and sound in less time.
Maintenance and Access Stage
Once the testers are past scanning, they are ready to gain access to multiple network devices and extract the targeted data and start testing.
The main purpose of this step is to ensure there are no loopholes left for the criminals to exploit later and take advantage of. The testing also includes checking for credentials for every employee and strong articles too.
AI-based solutions are powered to try different password combinations to check how strong the passwords are to break-in. Different algorithms are designed to observe user data, on-going trends, present patterns, and train themselves to do better testing.
The last stage of penetration testing followed by every pen testing company (kualitatem dot com) is the reporting stage.
The reporting stage usually tests the ability of the attackers to cover their tracks and remove all traces of their presence in the system.
These kinds of evidence can be found in existing access channels, user logs, and unexpected error messages raised due to the infiltration process.
Manual testing has failed to find these issues at a larger scale making it easy for the attackers to perform their tasks without management being aware of their presence.
On the other hand, artificial intelligence tools can easily discover hidden backdoors, traces of the presence of cybercriminals in the system, and multiple access points that were not supposed to be there.
Once found, these activities and their details are stored and saved in a report. The detailed report also contains a proper timeline against every attack done.
Overall Benefits of AI-powered Pen Testing
Now that we have talked about the benefits AI has to offer and the changes it is introducing in the penetration testing world, we are able to count the benefits on our fingertips.
Here is the whole list of the ways AI-powered pen testing is much better than manual testing.
- Since artificial intelligence is involved in AI-based pen testing, the results are returned faster than manual testing. This decreases the expected investment of time and gives more time to developers to fix issues.
- AI-based penetration testing ensures there are no loopholes left once the testing is done. This makes your system and software more secure as compared to manual testing.
- The test results are more accurate as compared to manual testing. This leaves less headache for the developers and testers as well.
- When it comes to companies, having AI do repetitive and boring tasks decreases investment. You can invest in an AI tool and forget about hiring and managing a large team of testers.
- Since organizations are growing at a good speed, it is hard to test for them through manual testing. Hence, AI-based testing ensures a large number of systems are tested with good results in less time.
- These tools are easily available in the market and stay updated with new threats and viruses entering the market. So you do not have to worry about upskilling your employees and investing in them.