Penetration testing, or pen testing, has become a common security assessment practice for helping organizations take a proactive approach to protect against cyber threats. It is a simulation attack on computer systems, networks, or applications to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Per a Q4 2023 survey, 77% of organizations use penetration testing to evaluate their security measures. Today, there are a variety of penetration testing methods organizations can use to identify and resolve potential weaknesses in their cybersecurity programs. One method that is becoming increasingly important for businesses in every industry is internal network pen testing.

With the results, your business can improve security by addressing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical systems and data.

What is Internal Network Pen Testing?

For years, organizations have used external pen testing to evaluate the possibility of a remote attacker getting into the internal network and is the traditional, more common approach to pen testing. However, in today’s world, external threats aren’t the only areas of concern.

Whether it’s a malicious insider or simply a negligent employee who exposes your organization to a phishing attack, organizations must consider evaluating their cybersecurity efforts from an attacker’s point of view who has already gained access to the internal network. Employing security measures on the inside, as well as the outside, fulfills the proven strategy of having a “defense-in-depth” approach to your information security.

Internal network pen testing helps organizations mitigate the increasing possibility of internal threats by simulating what an insider attack could accomplish. The target is typically the same as with external pen testing, but the major differentiator is that the “attacker” either has some sort of authorized access or is starting from a point within the internal network.

Why Do Businesses Need Internal Network Pen Testing?

Many organizations have an effective infrastructure for monitoring external threats, but their internal detection capabilities are lacking. And, while having a rogue employee in your midst isn’t likely, ensuring that your critical internal systems are secure is paramount. Here are a couple of reasons why internal pen testing is important:

    1. Today’s cybercriminals are using “internal methods” for penetrating organizations. In today’s world, many cyber attackers target people within your organization. They will work to compromise the technology through phishing techniques and then move laterally throughout your entire organization. Without the proper protection, it’s easy for them to navigate through the inherent trust controls your organization has built within your internal systems and processes.
    2. Internal attacks can be much more devastating. While insider threat events are typically less frequent than external attacks, insider threats often pose a much higher severity of risk for organizations when they do happen.
    3. Internal attacks can go undetected for long periods of time. According to Insider Threat Statistics for 2023, the average time to detect and contain an insider threat incident is 85 days. Only 12% of insider-related incidents are contained in fewer than 31 days.

More and more of today’s cyberattacks don’t look like external threats. They look like internal users who are accessing systems and services in an abnormal manner. Internal network pen testing is the best way to protect your organization from experiencing significant damage from these types of threats.

Need a Way to Protect Against Internal Threats?

Organizations must understand the threat landscape and conduct applicable threat modeling in their pen testing. At LBMC, our cybersecurity team is constantly evolving our pen testing methods to emulate the types of attacks that are happening today.

If you’re looking for a way to protect against insider threats, I’d invite you to learn more about our extensive internal network pen testing method and purple team engagements. You can also connect with our team at any time to learn about our other pen testing methods or cybersecurity services.