ISO 27001 Pentest Services are used to evaluate security
Jessica Doering

June 12, 2024



 min reading time

Why should You do a Pentest

Why Should You Do a Pentest? Good question! But first things first: 

What is a pentest?

A penetration test, or pentest, is a simulated cyber attack on a computer system, network, or application to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities. 

The goal is to assess the security posture of the target and provide recommendations for improving its defenses against real-world threats.

Consequently, there are very important reasons for performing pentests, e.g: 

Compliance Requirements: Pentesting is often mandated by Information Standards such as ISO 27001, SOC2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, etc. to ensure the security of sensitive information.

Risk Mitigation: Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them reduces the risk of data breaches and financial loss.

Reputation Protection: A pentest demonstrates commitment to security, enhancing trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders.

Insight into Security Posture: Pentests provide valuable insights into the security posture of organization systems, networks, and applications.

ISO 27001 and Pentesting

Secfix helps your organization achieve the next (ultimate) level of security with ISO 27001 certification.

ISO 27001 requires regular risk assessments and security controls, which often include penetration testing as a proactive measure to verify the integrity of security measures.

In the field of information and cyber security, ISO 27001 and penetration testing are therefore a symbiotic friendship, with ISO 27001 providing the framework for robust security management systems, while penetration testing acts as a vigilant companion, exposing vulnerabilities and strengthening defenses.

Pentesting therefore plays an important role in ISO 27001 compliance, as it helps organizations assess the effectiveness of their security controls and identify vulnerabilities that could put sensitive data at risk. By incorporating penetration testing into their security practices, organizations can therefore demonstrate compliance with ISO 27001 requirements and improve their overall cybersecurity posture.

How to Find a Pentest Company, like 7ASecurity

Research: Look for reputable companies with experience in your industry, a track record of successful engagements and ideally public pentest reports.

References: Ask for references or case studies from previous clients to assess the company's expertise and professionalism.

Credentials: Check for certifications like CREST, Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).

Why You Need a Pentest - Explained by Abraham Aranguren

Automated Vulnerability Scans vs. Manual Pentests

Automated Vulnerability Scans

Automated vulnerability scans use software tools to automatically check large code bases, networks or applications for known vulnerabilities. These tools can quickly detect common security issues such as misconfigurations, outdated software or known vulnerabilities in libraries and frameworks. They are particularly useful for performing initial assessments or scanning large environments where manual testing can be impractical.

However, automated scans have their limitations. While they are great for detecting known vulnerabilities, they struggle to detect complex or novel threats that can only be uncovered with human insight and creativity. In addition, automated tools will always result in false positives (fake findings wasting the time and money of your team and company) and false negatives (missed security findings that may damage your reputation as they are uncovered later), requiring manual review to ensure the accuracy of the results. 

Despite these limitations, automated scans remain an essential part of a comprehensive security testing strategy, as they provide valuable insight into the overall security posture of the organization infrastructure and applications.

Manual Pentests

In manual pentests, experienced security experts conduct hands-on tests to simulate real-world attack scenarios. These experts use a variety of techniques, including reconnaissance, chaining of vulnerabilities, more targeted automated tests and exploitation, which allows to uncover nuanced vulnerabilities that automated tools may miss. 

By mimicking the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) of actual attackers, manual pentests provide a comprehensive assessment of the security posture of the organization, uncovering both technical vulnerabilities and potential weaknesses in policies, procedures and human behavior.

Unlike automated testing, manual pentests can adapt to the unique nuances of each target environment, allowing testers to examine complex attack vectors and link multiple vulnerabilities together to achieve their goals. 

This human-driven approach allows testers to think creatively and use their expertise and experience to uncover hidden vulnerabilities that could pose significant risks if exploited by malicious actors.

In addition, manual pentests often include a thorough post-exploitation vulnerability analysis that provides organizations with actionable insights and prioritized recommendations for remediation.

While manual pentests require more time and resources compared to automated scans, their depth and accuracy make them an invaluable tool for organizations looking to improve their cybersecurity defenses and protect against emerging threats.

Specifically, manual penetration tests provide you with real findings without false positives, so your team can focus on what matters without wasting time with fake security vulnerabilities reported from automated tools. Similarly, manual penetration tests often find security weaknesses that automated tools miss (false negatives), as humans view your system like a real attacker and can pick and choose from multiple small weaknesses to chain them together and create issues with high or critical impact.

Limitations of Static and Dynamic Tools

Static Analysis Tools: Analyze source code or binaries without executing them, uncovering potential vulnerabilities but always produce false positives (fake findings that waste the time and resources of your organization). Furthermore, false negatives (missed vulnerabilities) are very common, particularly when applications generate and run code dynamically.

Dynamic Analysis Tools: Perform tests running applications in real-time to identify vulnerabilities like injection attacks or inadequate session handling. Like static analysis tools, their results often contain false positives (fake findings) and false negatives (missed vulnerabilities). 

Limitations of Bug Bounties and Cheap “Pentests”

Bug Bounties: These are programs where organizations reward individuals for discovering and reporting vulnerabilities in their systems. While this may seem cheap on paper, the effort of reviewing fake security reports (sometimes called “beg bounties”) should not be underestimated, this is often a task that requires substantial time and resources from your team, often leading to employee burnout.

Cheap “Pentests”: While seemingly cost-effective to the unexperienced client, these lack the depth and expertise of more comprehensive engagements, leaving potential vulnerabilities undiscovered. Similarly, such “security audits'' are often cheap because only an intern or unexperienced tester is performing them, and/or the results of an automated security tool (i.e. typically plagued with false positives and false negatives) is copy-pasted into a “pentest report”, which in essence is a vulnerability scan and not a real pentest.

A question that everyone is sure to ask: How can this be safe? 

Ensuring Pentest Safety

Scope Definition: Clearly define the scope of the engagement to prevent unintended disruption or damage, any experienced and reputable IT security company will walk you through this process. It is often best to conduct security audits on staging environments where no production users are present.

Permission and Legal Compliance: Obtain explicit permission from stakeholders and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Communication: Maintain open communication between the pentest team and the stakeholders of the organization to address any concerns or issues promptly.

Benefits of Pentesting

Risk Reduction: Identifying and fixing vulnerabilities reduces the likelihood of successful cyber attacks.

Cost Savings: Making your team focus on real vulnerabilities instead of automated fake findings (false positives), ensures you only spend time and resources on security issues that actually exist. Addressing vulnerabilities early prevents costly data breaches and associated damages.

By following these guidelines, organizations can conduct effective and secure penetration testing to improve their security posture and mitigate cyber risks. 

And don't forget: by implementing ISO 27001, you ensure comprehensive risk management, regulatory compliance and growing trust with customers and stakeholders. 

Together, ISO 27001 and regular pentesting form a powerful duo that strengthens your defenses and ensures your information security strategy remains resilient to evolving threats.

How Secfix can help you with ISO 27001? Watch this video:

This blog was co-authored by Abraham Aranguren (7ASecurity) and Jess Doering (Secfix).

You can find this blog on the 7ASecurity website here.

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Jessica Doering

Jess is the marketing mind at Secfix. She loves every dog on this planet!


ISO 27001:2022

ISO 27001

ISO 27001:2022
ISO 27001:2022
ISO 27001
ISO 27001