How Simulated Attacks Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Defenses

Key Takeaways:
  • Between 75-90% of targeted cyberattacks begin with one email.
  • Simulated phishing attacks are a powerful way to find where your company’s strengths and weaknesses are.
  • If a company waits for a breach to begin prioritizing cybersecurity efforts, it may be too late.


Network penetration testing, also known as pen testing, involves simulated cyberattacks on your company’s network to help uncover potential vulnerabilities. The simulations include various techniques of attack to thoroughly search for weaknesses in the network and firewall. The test should attempt access through web applications, APIs and operating systems from both internal and external attack approaches.

Pen testing typically follows a vulnerability assessment. While vulnerability scanning is conducted using automated tools, penetration testing is performed by skilled cybersecurity professionals who take a more exhaustive and deeper dive into the network’s defenses.

How Does Network Penetration Testing Work?

  1. Planning and Reconnaissance

The first step in network penetration testing involves planning and gathering information. Testers identify the scope and goals of the test, including the systems to be tested and the methods to be used. Reconnaissance involves collecting data about the target network, such as domain names, IP addresses and other publicly available information.

  1. Scanning

Once the initial information is gathered, the next step is scanning. This involves using tools to identify open ports, services running on those ports and any potential vulnerabilities. Scanning can be done both externally, from outside the network, and internally, from within the network.

  1. Gaining Access

After identifying potential vulnerabilities, testers attempt to exploit them to gain access to the network. This can involve various techniques such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS) and phishing attacks. The goal is to see how far the tester can penetrate the network and what data can be accessed.

  1. Maintaining Access

Once access is gained, the next step is to see if the attacker can maintain access and move laterally within the network. This phase involves using tools and techniques to remain undetected while exploring the network and gathering more information.

  1. Analysis and Reporting

After the testing is complete, the results are analyzed. This includes identifying which vulnerabilities were exploited, what data was accessed and how long the tester was able to maintain access without detection. A detailed report is then created, outlining the vulnerabilities found, the methods used to exploit them and recommendations for remediation.

Why is Network Penetration Testing Important?

  • Education

Educating your staff through training videos and quizzes is an excellent method for preparing for cyberattacks. Still, experiences that happen in real time during a normal workday can be far more memorable and impactful. True network penetration testing is done when your users aren’t expecting it.

Between 75-90% of targeted cyberattacks begin with one email.

Simulated phishing attacks are a powerful way to find where your company’s strengths and weaknesses are. Carefully crafted emails that look and feel like emails your staff are used to receiving are sent to them at varying times of the day. When your staff are focused on their regular responsibilities, juggling deadlines and phone calls, etc., they aren’t paying as much attention to small details these phishing emails present. They aren’t checking for slight differences in the email address or the spelling of the sender’s name. In a rush, they might click on the PDF the “sender” asked for approval on. They are alerted immediately that they failed a simulated phishing attack.

If this were a real life cyberattack, the consequence could be costly in many ways. Since this would be a simulated cyberattack, the consequence to the user is further education requirements and maybe a bit of embarrassment.

  • Data Protection

There are several important reasons why data privacy is important for a business of any size. Aside from a myriad of data privacy laws you should always be compliant with, even the smallest of breaches could damage your relationship and trust with your clients.

The modern consumer is more internet-savvy than ever before. They are more aware of how their information is used by businesses like Google or Apple, for example. Expectations for how their data is protected and their real perception of how data is protected are two very different things. This is a great opportunity for you and your company to build trusting, long-standing relationships with your clients by ensuring the data that you collect and retain is vigilantly protected and secure.

  • Financial Loss

IBM reported findings that the average price of a data break in 2023 was $4.45 million, which is a 15% increase over the previous three years. One singular data breach can demolish a company’s bottom line and cause it to permanently close its doors. Cybercriminals try to stay ahead of the game with tech-savviness and clever approaches. These consequences can include permanent destruction of data, a halt in productivity, theft of intellectual property, fraud, embezzlement and damage to your company’s reputation.


If a company waits for a breach to begin prioritizing cybersecurity efforts, it may be too late. Preventative efforts such as network penetration testing is a great starting point to ensure you, your employees and your clients remain protected from cybercrime. Contact an Adams Brown Technology Specialist to discuss how network penetration testing can help protect your company from a cyberattack.