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Rapid7 Penetration Tests Show That Businesses Are Getting Better at Network Security

We often hear that businesses are continually cyber insecure or under attack. However, recent penetration testing from Rapid7 shows that businesses are getting better at securing their networks against cyberattacks. While organizations continue to have exploitable weaknesses, attackers are having greater difficulty penetrating deeper into businesses’ networks.

A combination of better adherence to best practices and use of monitoring programs and new tools in vulnerability and patch management is forcing attackers to change their tactics. Awareness of security and observation of a company’s network is on the rise, decreasing open attack vectors for attackers.

Source: SoftwareReviews Product Scorecard, Accessed May 11, 2020.

However, data pulled from hundreds of penetration tests conducted by Rapid7 have shown that even with improvement, businesses are still failing basic security practices. Patch management, password quality, and a lack of visibility remain common problems for businesses. In 72% of their penetration tests, Rapid7 was able to gather user credentials through standard password spraying. While this is serious, the testers were unable to break the boundary between the external and internal networks. Implementation of network segmentation has prevented these credential losses from becoming an extreme security threat, showing promise for the future of security adherence.

Our Take

The consensus from the hundreds of penetration tests conducted by Rapid7 is that businesses are slowly getting better at securing their networks, but they can still encounter issues with the basics. Chris Nickerson, CEO at Lares, another penetration testing firm, notes that tooling debt is an overarching problem. Over the years organizations have spent a great deal of money on security tools, adding and discarding them as the business changes. This creates a problem in which organizations will often have multiple poorly integrated tools with no oversight or cohesive strategy.

These continual changes in a program library can be a net negative for the security side of the business, making it hard for consistency and business customization to stay in effect. They can also lead to unpatched security systems, unsupported programs, and open vulnerabilities for the enterprise and can also make it harder to detect alerts from previous penetration tests. A solid vulnerability management suite often comes with programs that include both patch management (a noted issue) and network and inventory assessment tools. These tools can tell you exactly what is on your network, unveiling legacy programs and potential vulnerable entry points.

While businesses are doing better in efforts to secure their networks, there is always room for improvement. Consider your security program against the Rapid7’s list of identified common flaws. Locate where there is room for improvement on best practices and common vulnerabilities to ensure that you’re staying ahead of attackers.


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