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How Does Penetration Testing Work?

Mar 18, 2024

By: Dan Polk

Small and medium businesses often operate under the misconception that they’re too small to be targeted by cybercriminals. However, the reality is quite the opposite. With limited resources and often less stringent security protocols, SMBs are attractive targets for attackers. Third-party penetration testing provides an objective analysis of your security posture, offering invaluable insights into how you can enhance your defenses.

How Does Third-Party Penetration Testing Work?

  1. Planning and Reconnaissance: The first phase involves defining the scope and goals of the penetration test, including the systems to be tested and the testing methods to be used. This is followed by gathering information to simulate the most realistic attack scenarios possible.
  2. Scanning: This phase involves using automated tools to scan for vulnerabilities within your systems. These tools can identify open ports, outdated software, and other potential weaknesses.
  3. Gaining Access: Using the vulnerabilities identified during the scanning phase, the testers attempt to exploit them to gain unauthorized access to your systems. This step is crucial for understanding the potential impact of a real-world attack.
  4. Maintaining Access: The goal here is to see if the vulnerability can be used to maintain a persistent presence in the compromised system—mimicking an advanced persistent threat that can lead to data breaches and sustained loss.
  5. Analysis and Reporting: The final phase involves compiling the findings from the test, including the vulnerabilities discovered, the data accessed, and the duration of the penetration. This report provides a roadmap for remediation and enhancing your cybersecurity measures.

Benefits of Third-Party Penetration Testing for SMBs

  • Identifies Vulnerabilities: Offers a real-world assessment of your vulnerabilities, allowing you to address them proactively.
  • Compliance: Helps ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards, avoiding potential fines and penalties.
  • Customer Trust: Enhances customer confidence by demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity.
  • Cost-Effective: Prevents the high costs associated with data breaches and cyberattacks.

Choosing the Right MSP for Penetration Testing

Selecting an MSP with expertise in third-party penetration testing is critical. Look for providers with a proven track record, comprehensive testing methodologies, and a clear communication process. Your chosen MSP should not only identify vulnerabilities but also provide actionable insights and support for remediation.


For SMBs, the question isn’t if a cyberattack will occur, but when. Third-party penetration testing is an invaluable tool in your cybersecurity arsenal, offering deep insights into your security posture and helping you stay one step ahead of cyber threats. As your MSP, we are committed to guiding you through this complex landscape, ensuring that your business remains resilient in the face of evolving cyber risks.

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