Continuous pentesting, which PentestHero delivers as part of Pentest-as-a-Service, is the process of designing a pentest cycle around ongoing security assessments. Rather than taking a silo approach, where you pentest once and then not again until a security or compliance need arises, continuous pentesting delivers pentests according to a schedule. 

That pentest schedule may be aligned with updates, with a quarterly review, or with both – but the objective is to ensure your assets are tested as new features, updates, and implementations introduce new risks. The idea is that instead of a quick snapshot of security risks at one point in time, you get an ongoing and comprehensive picture of your security environment as it changes. 

What is Continuous Pentesting? 

In a traditional pentest, you request an assessment on-demand. This normally aligns with a yearly need or a compliance requirement. The pentester performs a test, delivers results, and you (hopefully) remediate the problem. 

Pentest-as-a-Service enables a more circular process, in which you build pentest cycles around development, business changes, and other needs. For example, PentestHero uses a pentest platform. We also use a credit system, so finance can budget for all upcoming pentests over the full year, giving tech teams and compliance officers direct control of when and how pentests are performed. 

You can then map pentests to: 

  • Change Management – If you’re introducing a new feature, connecting an API, adding a server, or otherwise altering your environment in a major way, a pentest ensures you remain secure. 
  • Ongoing Compliance Needs – With compliance pentests planned well in advance 
  • Monthly, quarterly, or bi-yearly schedules 

Pentests are then planned into your calendar, for repeat testing throughout the year. And, that can include code review to ensure the security of new developments. Most organizations use a combination of several “light” pentests to assess new technologies and features with more intensive pentesting at planned intervals. 

Finally, PentestHero shares vulnerabilities in the cloud portal, where they remain accessible. Your tech teams can see risk data, track Time-to-Solve metrics, associate risks with assets and business areas, and track risks over the long-term. 

The result is a lot different than with a one-off pentest. Instead of a one-time report, you get a long-term analysis of your cybersecurity, complete with the ability to map vulnerabilities, track recurring issues, and see time-to-fix and remediation success rates. 

Pros and Cons of Continuous Pentesting  

Regular pentesting is the best way to validate security controls and your cybersecurity environment. Ongoing testing means you get a long-term picture of risks, how those risks change over time, and the tools to manage and better resolve vulnerabilities. 

Collaborative Pentesting – Ongoing pentesting means you collaborate with the same pentesters. This has benefits in that you can communicate with the pentester through our platform for 1-to-1 communication. It also means we learn your systems, your networks, and your vulnerabilities. We don’t go in blind each time. This means each new pentest can offer new insights and new approaches, because we know your environment. 

  • Long-term scheduling means we always make time for you in our schedule and you always get pentest results when you want them 
  • We can take time to validate remediation of previous vulnerabilities 
  • Asset and service discovery tasks are minimized because everything is established and uploaded to your portal 
  • The pentester knows your crown jewels (items which critical and core to your business) and can take more creative and different approaches to breaking in 

Ongoing Security – Your environment changes. Every time devs push an update, every time you connect an app, every time you onboard a new partner, you introduce new risks. Ongoing pentesting allows you to recognize and mitigate those risks as quickly as possible. 

  • Setting clear goals for pentests becomes easier because you know what’s been tested before and what’s new 
  • Tech teams can communicate with pentesters to determine how to remediate issues
  • Retests are easy and part of the process 
  • You more easily meet PCI-DSS compliance needs
  • It’s easier to plan and maintain budgets
  • Forces more security in design and development, as tech teams become more aware of which risks occur most often 
  • Testing adapts as your assets harden and your cybersecurity matures 

Cons of Continuous Pentesting 

Not every business is a good fit for ongoing pentests. For example, if your budget is low, your business is small, or your business is relatively low risk. Repeated pentests incur additional costs, require additional workload for tech teams, and can add complexities to development. It’s always best to conduct a risk analysis when deciding if you need repeated pentests throughout the year, or if a siloed approach will do. 

Cost mitigation strategies are also a good idea. For example, while you might want to align new pentests with every major release, it may not be necessary to conduct pentests at the same level of intensity each time. That’s why PentestHero offers “Pentest Levels”, so you can use a lighter and cheaper security assessment backed by deeper, more thorough tests at routine intervals. We also deliver volume pricing, so you can reduce costs by committing to the full year of pentests upfront. 

Finally, routine pentesting can result in complacency, where tech teams simply stop paying attention to new vulnerability findings because pentests keep occurring. PentestHero works to mitigate this by using a Findings Library. This means duplicate vulnerability findings are tracked across pentests, you can manage vulnerability finding status, and you can assign roles and responsibilities, so it’s always clear who is responsible for remediation or sign-off. We also directly communicate with your tech teams, so they can more easily see what needs to be fixed and why. 

Some organizations benefit from one test a year. Many benefit from a series of tests throughout the year, each mapped to major business or asset changes and to compliance needs. Pentest-as-a-Service makes this seamless, allowing you to request multiple human-driven pentests through a platform, manage vulnerabilities in one place, and ensure long-term security and remediation. 

If you want to know more, visit our “How it Works” page to see how we deliver pentest cycles to your business.