When protecting your network from external threats, you sometimes need to think like a hacker. You can better prevent cyber attacks by understanding how perpetrators could potentially access sensitive data. Therefore, penetration testing should be a part of your yearly cybersecurity plan. 

What penetration testing?

Penetration testing is one of the best ways to pinpoint weaknesses in your organization’s network security. While standard vulnerability assessments scan the network for potential operating system, application, and service weaknesses, penetration testing truly puts these and other possible attack vectors to the test. 

Through penetration testing, your organization will simulate cyber-attack scenarios, both externally and internally. By actually doing it, your team can find ways external hackers would access you network. Then you can test ways in which internal errors could give external parties access to the network, like phishing emails and poor password management. 

While vulnerability assessments are an essential starting point, penetration testing takes your knowledge a step further. Your IT team can see how a breach could happen and the impact it could have, so you can take more effective steps at preventing it. 

Why you should schedule a penetration test every year

There are several key benefits of scheduling penetration testing at least once per year. While each organization will experience different takeaways, here are some advantages to expect: 

Interpret Vulnerabilities

As mentioned before, penetration testing goes beyond vulnerability assessments. Your IT team will know exactly how a hacker might exploit these vulnerabilities, and whether or not your detection and prevention implementations are properly configured. With this knowledge, you can patch the network or reconfigure security tools more effectively and stay ahead of potential perpetrators.

Remain HIPAA Compliant

The HIPAA Security Rule requires that healthcare organizations take active steps to secure their networks and protect sensitive patient data; thorough testing is part of the process. Regular penetration testing is highly recommended to help your organization stay HIPAA compliant and prepared for potential audits.

Prevent Costly Breaches

While hiring an expert to perform penetration testing is an investment, data breaches often cost exponentially more. You can protect the finances of your organization and patients, as well as the organization’s reputation, by staying on top of testing and security improvements. 

Educate Employees

Penetration testing can uncover significant internal vulnerabilities, which can be turned into an educational opportunity for employees. If the test shows hackers can access the network through phishing emails and password guessing, your organization needs to bolster training in these areas and build cybersecurity awareness. It is best to uncover the problem and take preventative measures. Otherwise, you might have to educate your employees after an actual breach. 

Test Emergency Readiness

Healthcare organizations should have an emergency plan in place in the event of a cyber attack. Penetration testing presents an opportunity to put this plan to the test. Your team can assess whether you are prepared to react to an attack effectively, based on where the most significant vulnerabilities reside. 


Penetration testing can be an empowering and enlightening approach to preventing cyber attacks. Learn more in our on-demand webinar, Rethinking Penetration Testing in the Face of Rising Healthcare Breaches.