Why Penetration Testing is Important for SMEs

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Unearth holes in your cyber security, so you can isolate risk, secure your networks, and ensure operational resilience with regular penetration testing.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, cybercrime has increased by 600% (source). Cyberattacks used to feel like a rare prospect for many organisations. But today, online fraud has grown to become a common and potentially life-changing reality for us all.  As a result, businesses of all sizes need to be acutely aware of the dangers that surround their digital networks, devices, and assets.

What is meant by Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing (or pen testing), is an authorised, simulated cyber-attack, performed on a computer network, application, or system to evaluate how secure it is. The process exposes flaws within security infrastructures.

Pen testers use the same tools, techniques, and processes as malicious bad actors, to find weaknesses in a system. They then work with the organisation to secure them.

Today, one in five organisations do not test their networks, or devices for security vulnerabilities (source), leaving them exposed to destructive threats. This indicates that most businesses in the UK don’t prepare for cyber-attacks until it’s too late.

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security allows you to stay ahead of the threat actors – before they can do irreversible damage to your business. 

The pros and cons of penetration testing

With a greater requirement for comprehensive cyber security, pen testing should form a critical component of any organisation’s security program. But what are the pros and cons of pen testing?


Testing enables a proactive approach to cyber security. By spotting vulnerabilities early on, you prevent potentially devastating damage.

It identifies unknown vulnerabilities. Pen testing finds weaknesses and vulnerabilities that businesses aren’t aware of. It allows for the exploration of each of these (very real) risks and provides an accurate picture of a company’s IT infrastructure security position at any given time.

It unearths exploit chains. Small weaknesses may seem negligible on their own, but cybercriminals have the skills to exploit minor vulnerabilities, creating larger, higher-risk weaknesses. Automated testing and scanning solutions can’t identify this chain – humans can – which means criminals will too.

The results provide specific recommendations. Unlike automated tests, a penetration test provides results that are specific to your business and give clear advice on how to fix vulnerable holes. This report is invaluable – it provides a step-by-step guide to resolve any vulnerabilities.


While the pros of pen testing outweigh the cons, it’s important to be aware of the disadvantages of this type of security test.

You must put trust in the penetration tester. When allowing someone to penetrate your IT network, you must trust the tester with your information and data.

It’s highly labour-intensive. Comprehensive pen testing requires substantial effort, time, and commitment. They can create a lot of ‘noise’ for your security team, who could become overwhelmed.

Pen tests can be damaging if not performed properly. To avoid exposing sensitive information, crashing servers, or corrupting crucial production data (along with a variety of other adverse effects). Only certified businesses or individuals should be employed to carry out pen tests. 

They can give a false sense of security. If a team, or business, is able to withstand pen test attacks, it might give them the idea that their systems are safe. However, security teams may know when penetration tests are set to happen, so they can be prepared when the tests occur. Real attacks are unexpected, so results could give a false sense of security. 

The risks of not performing regular penetration testing

By not performing regular pen testing, you leave your IT systems open to attack and your business open to a data breach.

Breaches are costly in fines, business downtime, reputational damage, and public scrutiny. In the UK alone, SMEs have around a 1 in 2 chance of being exposed to a cyber security breach – costing thousands of pounds (Source).

When to schedule a penetration test

The best time to schedule a pen test is before an attack occurs. Staying proactive, performing regular tests, and retesting previously exposed vulnerabilities will ensure your organisation stays protected.

Businesses should employ pen testing when looking to introduce new products, or when updating, or adding new business tools, applications, and devices for employee or customer use.

We also recommend businesses execute annual penetration tests to keep on top of any developing vulnerabilities.

Regular penetration testing will help your business stay on top of cyber security and give you peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to protect yourself from an attack.

SupPortal’s accredited penetration testing services align with defined business requirements, budgets, and the value of the assets you intend to test. Our methodologies align closely with the OSSTMM and OWASP frameworks.

If you would like to learn more about pen testing or to book a test, please contact us today.

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