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Penetration Testing as a Service(PTaaS) Over Traditional Penetration Testing
By Muhammad Bin Shahzad
Cybersecurity attacks have been growing drastically over the years. With everything around us being more “digitized” for the obvious benefits, the digitalization of things around us does one bad and that is increasing the attack surface for the hackers. The prevention techniques have evolved a lot over time but as it can be observed the threat environment has evolved along with it as well. The attackers have evolved, finding newer methods and ways to break into your network or digital infrastructure.We like to think of securing digital infrastructure as we being the one who knocks on each of the doors a house has, to know of the ones that are unlocked and then carry on to identify all of the unlocked doors. Whereas for the attacker, all he needs is one unlocked door to get in.

What is Penetration Testing

Penetration Testing which is often referred to as “pentesting” is the process of an authorized simulated cyberattack on a defined scope of digital assets. This is a security exercise through which cybersecurity experts identify and exploit weakness or vulnerabilities in a computer system. The purpose of a penetration test is to keep a check on the organization’s security posture, helping it get more secure.

Problems with Traditional Penetration Testing

However, Penetration Tests has been seen as an expensive security practice that is often seen to be less effective when implemented traditionally. Often, the development teams of an organization have been stuck with the same vulnerabilities for 5 years in a row, as per the Cobalt’s State of Pentesting 2022.The organizations finds it difficult to patch the reported vulnerabilities on time, and while they are fixed more of the vulnerabilities are in the pipeline to be fixed. The major drawback is that it takes a month or so to effectively plan and deploy a penetration test project for an organization, therefore keeping the digital infrastructure vulnerable while they’re occupied with all of this.Cybersecurity still remains to be a scarce skill and for organizations they face problems such as having time constraints and lack of resources. It is difficult to find professionals that can speed up the process effectively, tackling modern evolved threats and maintaining security.Moreover, this can’t be a one-time approach. The threat environment is constantly evolving, and with it the attack vectors that are relevant but go unnoticed. The penetration test has to an on-going project, the organizations often find it cost-burdening and may lack resources for it to be effective. The digital infrastructure needs to be constantly optimized, which is a tougher aspect to fulfill.The issue remains that organizations have started to realize the important of penetration tests, they know has become a need but they’re upset with the model it utilizes.

The Solution: Penetration Test as a Service

The traditional penetrating testing models that have been used involves the constant delays before the penetration test is deployed. The hurdle of having weak and lesser effective communication between the testing team and the developers still effects the whole procedure. Moreover, when this project comes to an the deliverable is the static PDF report that is then communicated to the development for fixes. This penetration test cycle indeed does involve a lot of hurdles. The solution to it is the Penetration Test as a Service(PTaaS).Penetration Test as a Service(PTaaS) has emerged keeping in view the evolving threat landscape, in an agile format through which the organization gets to an insight on the progress throughout as well. This model provides with the improved real-time collaboration between the developers and the cybersecurity professionals, improving effective communication, allowing for continuous monitoring of the penetration tests and generating reports for them in the real-time.For obvious reasons this model, PTaaS has been widely and quickly adopted in the industry.

Benefits of Penetration Test as a Service(PTaaS)

The benefits do cover up the drawbacks that were faced with adopting the traditional penetration testing model but we still came up with a comprehensive list.
  • Cost: The organization does not have to be worried about finding the right resources for the penetration test. As per Cobalt’s report, PTaaS has effectively reduced management costs by 25%. Moreover it has been seen that 71% agree that cost is one of the factors that limits the ability of their organization for frequent tests.
  • Reduced time and improved efficiency: the PTaaS model’s agile nature allows the organization to straight away fix the vulnerabilities that are reported to them because of the real-time collaboration between developers and the testers. Organization being in a position to know of the discovered vulnerabilities quicker results in them fixing it quicker and hence keeping them safe from the evolving threats. It reduces time-to-results significantly by 50% as compared to the traditional penetration testing model as per Cobalt. This factor is extremely important in certain scenarios such as when certain compliance audits require penetration tests or when a new software feature is required.
  • Real-time Collaboration: PTaaS platforms allows each of the stakeholders involved through the penetration test to be actively involved. The business leaders and the project managers are able to actively track the progress of the penetration test. The developers can actively communicate with the penetration testers such as asking them what could possibly the better fix for the vulnerability they identified. There is a lot more transparency throughout the penetration test workflow through its adoption.
  • Talent sourcing: Organizations often have limitations in terms of acquiring the best of the talent and expertise for their projects but through PTaaS, they no more have to worry about it. They’re provided with a talent pool through which they can have their preferences, or they easily can have the perfect resource with expertise they’re looking for.
  • Reporting: with PTaaS, the findings or discovered vulnerabilities are often documented as they are discovered. Due to the real-time report generation, the development team starts working on the recommendations and the fixes much quicker than usual. Comparing it with the traditional pentest model, penetration testers usually take a couple of weeks after getting done with the testing phase to document their findings and their recommendations. The reporting time is significantly reduced by 57% as estimated by Cobalt.


The organizations should prefer penetration tests not only when it is a requirement for their desired compliance audit or when they really have to. Penetration tests should be stacked up right when their digital infrastructure is set up.With the evolving threat landscape, the attacks get past the prevention techniques that are deployed. The firewalls get bypassed, the privileges restricted are escalated but an on-going penetration test with a higher frequency does uncover the vulnerabilities for the organizations before they are discovered by the attacker and hence avoiding its exploitation.With an increased frequency, an organization has to keep their management costs low with additional benefits which really makes Penetration Test as a Service(PTaaS) the right model for them to adopt.
Posted: 19 Jan 2024
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