Ethical Hacking: Why Are Big Companies Paying to Be Hacked?

From networks going down and affecting customer experience to sensitive and personal data being exploited, one thing is for sure – getting hacked is bad for business. It’s so bad for business that in 2016, cyber crime was responsible for a cost of £30 billion in the UK alone. It’s safe to say that no business wants to be on the receiving end of a cyber-attack, so why are so many companies paying to have their security systems hacked?

Paying to get hacked seems like the complete opposite of what businesses should be doing in the face of the ransomware epidemic that is sweeping the globe. However, when you dig a little deeper into what these companies are up to, you reveal one of the best defences against cyber-attacks – penetration testing.

The Changing World of Cyber Security

The world is changing, and with it comes the demand for companies to better defend their data. Instead of sitting behind their firewalls, encrypted data, and anti-malware software, and waiting for an attack to happen, many companies are taking the proactive approach and hiring ethical hackers to put their systems through their paces.

Companies like Fidus information security from the UK are brought in to formulate a plan to test the defences of a business and attempt to gain unauthorised access before a malicious hacker has the chance to exploit issues in the system that are already present. By taking this step towards proactive defence, businesses give themselves time to assess the problems and patch holes in their defences before a cyber disaster has the chance to occur. But why is this happening now?

Responding to Panic

No business wants to have to stand up and tell their customers that they have had a breach in security. Ransomware is a growing threat in the UK and across the world, and many companies are responding to this panic by better equipping themselves to deal with the inevitable.

In recent years, there has been no limit placed on the kinds of businesses and organisations that have been targeted. From the NHS to large businesses, and even small businesses, nobody is safe if they are in possession of any kind of data that is capable of being exploited.

Meeting the Requests of Clients

Not only are companies panicking about their data security, but the clients they are responsible for are also calling for better protection. Today, to put your faith in a company generally coincides with putting your faith in them to handle your data. This could be credit card numbers, IP addresses, personal details… everyone wants their information to be secure.

In this sense, testing your business systems and making sure that they are up to scratch falls in line with the essentials – things that you have to do to offer your customers the same security, or better, than what they would receive if they were using a different business.

Changing Regulations

As always, changing regulations play some part in the changing mood in relation to cyber security. As regulations change, it prompts companies to make sure that their security is working to a much better standard than what it’s currently operating at. New regulations are coming from every angle, including the Global Data Protection Regulation that was approved on the 14th of April 2016.

To assess where a company is at, and what it needs to do better, there are few more effective places to start than to actually put the system to the test. If there is any way that an ethical hacker can gain access, then those non-ethical hackers that have the time to keeping testing a system until it breaks, will definitely be able to gain access.

Taking the Proactive Approach to Business Defence

The big answer to, why are big companies paying to be hacked, all comes down to their outlook on cyber security. Those that are willing to step up and improve their defences are choosing to be proactive and responsible for their security by paying hackers to test it. Be it through a ‘bug bounty’, where a company provides rewards for anyone who can locate bugs in their software, or by proactively enlisting the help of a penetration testing service, those companies that act now, give themselves the best chances of deterring malicious cyber-attacks in the future.