penetration testing for ransomware

The Scourge of Ransomware and Why Penetration Testing is Vital for Combatting It

What is ransomware?


Ransomware is malicious software featuring encryption algorithms that cybercriminals use to lock data on an individual’s computer or an organization’s servers. The only person who has the decryption key to unlock the data is the cybercriminal launching the attack. After locking the data, the hacker demands money from the victim so that they can regain access to their data. For more than three decades ransomware attacks have been conducted by hackers seeking to extort individuals and organizations. It’s a crime growing by leaps and bounds—and the impacts can be devastating.

encryption algorithm for penetration testing

To conduct a ransomware attack the attacker must first gain access to a system through a network. There are a variety of techniques that hackers use to do this. In the early days ransomware hackers tricked users of a specific network into unwittingly granting them access. Over time, however, individuals and organizations became aware of this approach, which today is largely ineffective. Now cybercriminals look for technical weaknesses in network security and infrastructure. 

Victims of ransomware attacks often feel powerless at solving the problem because the threat is constantly evolving. Cybercriminals can be extraordinarily creative and cunning and are constantly devising new means of unleashing new ransomware. Even large companies with complex, rigorous and expensive security systems can be vulnerable. Given this, what are individuals and organizations doing to expose and eliminate their vulnerabilities? Penetration testing is one of the most cost-effective strategies being deployed. 

What is penetration testing?

A penetration test, sometimes called a pen test or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated cyberattack on your internal and external networks, systems or applications that’s designed to evaluate the security of your defense against ransomware. It emulates real-world adversaries and provides valuable insights into vulnerabilities and strengths. A penetration test also highlights the offensive strategies being used and helps ensure that you are secure against potential future attacks. 

Nivee is a penetration testing specialist and conducts the following types of penetration tests:

  • PCI-DSS penetration testing: Helps you meet PCI-DSS requirements by identifying vulnerabilities present in the CDE before a malicious attacker discovers and exploits them. PCI penetration testing provides a realistic view of the opportunities an attacker may exploit to compromise POS devices, payment applications and other devices within the CDE.
  • Network penetration testing: Focuses on the systems, hosts and devices on your network. Nivee experts try to gain unauthorized access to your data through these systems and attempt to access sensitive data or take over the system(s) completely. We document all vulnerabilities and methods used and present remediation steps to ensure this doesn’t happen in the real world.
  • Mobile application testing: Mobile application use continues to grow, so organizations are facing new threats around device theft and sensitive information. This service is used to assess the threats of applications on mobile devices, as well as the API vulnerabilities to get an understanding of what real-world attackers would use to exploit sensitive information or gain control of systems and applications.
  • Web application penetration testing: Helps to identify exploitable vulnerabilities in applications before adversaries discover and exploit them. This type of penetration testing simulates the attack vectors of a real-world attacker so we can see vulnerabilities or threats that a hacker may use to compromise web applications and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or breach systems to use as a “pivot” to attack internal networks.

The takeaway

Not only are ransomware attacks growing in number, the average ransom demand now exceeds $200,000. Associated recovery costs are almost 10 times that. Penetration testing is an essential, cost-effective way of ensuring that you and your company can continue to function seamlessly as cybercriminals seek to bring you to your knees. Nivee penetration test experts can bolster your network security to ensure you don’t become a victim. Click here for a no-obligation dialog and a free quote on our penetration testing services.