Security Audit

Data Security Penetration Testing [Top 5] – Steps and Best Practices

Updated on: July 7, 2023

Data Security Penetration Testing [Top 5] – Steps and Best Practices

The average cost of a data breach in 2022 is put at $4.35 million showing a 2.6% increase from 2021. Employing data security penetration testing tools in a timely manner is how you can stay safe and avoid becoming a dread statistic for a cybersecurity attack.

Here are some of the top data security penetration testing tools to keep a lookout for

  1. Astra Pentest
  2. Intruder
  3. Rapid7
  4. Sciencesoft 

Data Security Penetration Testing

Data security penetration testing is a process by which assets like networks, the cloud, computers, other devices, web applications, and APIs are tested to find any vulnerabilities. 

These vulnerabilities if left undetected can result in their exploitation by malicious attackers which in turn would lead to data breaches and leaks. 

All industries dealing with sensitive data like organizations in the healthcare sector, governmental organizations, financial institutions, and even educational sectors are advised to carry out data security penetration tests at least twice a year to ensure optimal safety for the data stored or generated. 

Steps in Data Security Penetration Testing

Here are the steps in data security penetration testing:

1.Scoping the Assets

This is the initial phase where a scope is agreed upon by the pentesters and the customer which details the number of assets to be tested, the rules of attack, and the understanding of the needs of the client.

Proper scoping is required for a thorough security pentesting, to avoid scope creep and legal troubles. 

2. Vulnerability Scanning Assets

This is the second phase of security testing where the decision on assets is scanned for any vulnerabilities or areas of non-compliance using automated security scanning tools. Both open-source and freely available security scanning tools can be used for this task. 

3. Exploitation

Based on the results of the vulnerability scan, the vulnerabilities found are exploited using tools like Astra Pentest and others manually by expert pentesters or using automated pentest tools

4. Risk Evaluation

The vulnerabilities discovered are categorized based on the severity of the threat they represent. This is done according to CVSS scores in which 8-10 represents critical vulnerabilities, 5-7 medium-level vulnerabilities, and 1- 4 low-level vulnerabilities.  

5. Pentest Report

Once the security pentesting tool completes the exploitation, it then generates a detailed pentest report for the customers to help them understand the measures taken, vulnerabilities found, remediation measures that can be opted and help with good documentation of security. 

6. Remediation

The penetration testing report will contain measures of remediation for the vulnerabilities found on them. These vulnerabilities are to be remediated and patched based on criticality, the ones with high criticality should be patched immediately.

7. Rescanning Assets

A rescan of the assets is carried out to ensure that all vulnerabilities have been patched properly and no other new vulnerabilities have risen. 

Best Practices for Data Security

Here are some of the best practices you can opt for to ensure maximums data security. 

1. Conduct regular data security pentesting

Conduct continuous data security pentesting by employing automated pentest tools like Astra Security within your CI/CD pipeline. They help in the detection of vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious attackers. These vulnerabilities can be then remediated to avoid any further issues. 

It is also prudent to conduct manual data security penetration tests at least twice a year since they can help in the identification of vulnerabilities that escape automated detection. 

2. Encryption of data at rest and in-transit

Data that is in transit can be encrypted using Transport Layer Security. Offer control over encryption keys so that others cannot decrypt customer data.

Ways to ensure the security of data at rest include ensuring a hierarchy of security levels with encryption on both ends and conducting audits regularly. 

3. Implement access controls

Ensure that access to sensitive data is limited solely to users who need them. Make sure that users should not have more access than required for the smooth running of their operations.

This is called the principle of least privilege. The access controls must be reviewed continuously in lieu of employees leaving, and newer ones joining. 

4. Increase data resilience through separate backups

Increase data resilience through backups in different locations and implementing disaster recovery plans. Disaster recovery plans are documents that outline the steps to be taken in the event of a disaster, a breach, or other security incidents.

It generally contains information such as procedures for restoring systems and can help minimize the impact to ensure that your organization is able to recover in a timely manner.

5. Multifactor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication or two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an additional layer of security that can be used to protect access. With it, a user has to provide two pieces of evidence for the verification of their identity. 

Implementing multifactor authentication can help to prevent unauthorized access even if a user’s password is compromised.

6. Setting difficult passwords

Set passwords that are difficult to guess or brute-force through and change them regularly to avoid any password-related data risks. 

Make sure that passwords are not written down in workstations where they could be accessible to anyone. 

How Does Data Security Penetration Testing Help With Compliances?

For some regulatory standards like PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, and GDPR penetration testing is a mandatory requirement for the continued maintenance of these compliances. This means that annual or bi-annual penetration tests need to be carried out whenever major upgrades are made to the systems in use.

In the case of regulatory bodies like HIPAA and SOC2, penetration testing isn’t explicitly mentioned as a mandatory requirement. However, these international standards also mention regular risk assessments to be carried out. One of the best ways to ensure this is through penetration tests or vulnerability assessments as recommended by these standards. 

Top Companies for Data Security Penetration Testing

This section deals with the best data security penetration testing companies, their features, pros and cons.

Astra Pentest

1. Astra Pentest

One of the top-notch data security penetration testing tools, Astra Pentest provides expert data security pentests with the assurance of zero false positives to find all the weak spots plaguing one’s security.

  • Regular Pentests

Astra provides continuous hacker-style penetration tests to identify and exploit vulnerabilities through vulnerability scans. This helps organizations gain an in-depth understanding of how an actual hack would affect their systems, network, and data. 

  • Comprehensive Vulnerability Scanner

Astra Pentest provides a world-class comprehensive vulnerability scanner that is capable of finding vulnerabilities using NIST and OWASP methodologies. These vulnerabilities are identified based on known CVEs, OWASP Top 10, SANS 25, and intel from various reliable sources. 

  • Easy-To-Navigate Dashboard

With total ease of use and navigation, Astra’s dashboards win customers over with their great user experience. The dashboard displays the vulnerabilities found in real-time with the severity scores and provides an option of collaboration with the target’s development time for quicker smoother patching.   

  • Maintain Compliance

Astra helps maintain compliance with its compliance-specific scans for regulatory standards like PCI-DSS, SOC2, GDPR, ISO 27001, and HIPAA. Compliance scanning has a dashboard dedicated to it. 

  • Detailed Reports

Astra’s data security penetration testing reports have the scope of testing explained, vulnerabilities found on scanning, methods employed for exploitation of vulnerabilities, and the damages and information revealed from exploiting them as well. 

The report also mentions the CVSS scores for these vulnerabilities and well the detailed steps to take to patch them up. These reports are extremely useful for organizations when it comes to patching.

  • Pentest Certificate

Astra pentest certificate is a must-have and is only provided to customers who patch all the vulnerabilities found in the security weaknesses audit and obtain a rescan to ensure that there are no further vulnerabilities. 

This certificate is publicly verifiable and can be displayed on customer websites to showcase its reliability and security-conscious nature. This brings about more customers who trust the services offered by your network. 

  • 24*7 Customer Care

Astra provides 24*7 expert assistance to its customers through e-mails, phone calls, and even the dashboard. Customers can touch with any queries they have regarding any vulnerabilities within the reply box under every vulnerability detected. 

  • Zero False Positive

Zero false positives are a sure thing with Astra’s thorough vetting which is done by expert pentesters based on the automated pentest results obtained. This double-checking, therefore, ensures that the customers don’t have to worry about any false positive vulnerability detection. 


  • Detailed and thorough reports
  • Great remediation assistance
  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Budget-friendly
  • Assures zero false positives with vetted scans. 


  • Could have more integrations.
  • No free trial.

2. Intruder


Intruder is a leading data security auditing and penetration testing service provider.

It has a comprehensive security scanner that is capable of detecting flaws manually and through automated means across a whole large infrastructure.

Lots of tests are available to check for even historic vulnerabilities and new ones.


  • Its interface is easy-to-use with a powerful scanner.
  • Cloud-based data security audit solution.
  • Provides integration opportunities with Jira, Slack, and more. 


  • Does not provide a zero false positive assurance.
  • Reports are difficult to understand.

3. Rapid7


Rapid7 provides world-class services for application and data security, vulnerability management, and SIEM. Other services provided by this company include penetration testing services and vulnerability scanning. 


  • Simple and easy-to-navigate interface.
  • Capable of finding hidden vulnerabilities
  • Great and easy-to-understand reports. 


  • Customer support can be improved. 
  • Removal of scanned devices must be done manually.

4. Sciencesoft


Sciencesoft is a cybersecurity service provider that provides its customers with network, web applications, social engineering, and data security testing. It is an ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 compliance-certified company. 

This guarantees data safety for clients of a vast diaspora ranging from banking to healthcare and retail. Their major advantages include their expert team having years of experience, partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, and more as well providing data analytics.  


  • Wide range of services
  • Enviable clientele


  • Weak remediation support

Benefits of Data Security Penetration Testing

1. Protecting Data

Networks, clouds, and servers are all constantly targeted for data breaches and theft. With data security penetration testing one can identify any vulnerabilities that may be plaguing them in advance. This thereby reduces the chances of hackers exploiting and compromising these crucial components to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. 

2. Achieving Compliance

Data security penetration testing help in achieving compliance through compliance-specific scans and remediation of non-compliant areas found.

According to compliance standards like HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR, maintaining security is of the utmost priority without which the organizations are liable to hefty penalties and even criminal charges. These regulations also stipulate the measures that need to be taken to protect applications, networks, and the sensitive data it holds, thus making the use of security testing tools a necessity. 

3. Finding Security Gaps

Data security testing tools and their services help uncover security gaps, risks, and threats before they are exploited by hackers. These vulnerabilities are then fixed with the help of the remediation measures within the reports provided after the security testing.

4. Remediation Recommendation and Assistance

The provision of POC videos once the vulnerabilities are identified can greatly help with remediation.  They help provide easy-to-follow steps for remediation of the vulnerabilities. Understanding these services ensures that your organization will have the right guidance throughout the process of penetration testing and remediation. 

5. Make Improvements 

Carrying out regular security pentests can help with the constant vigilance and monitoring of the network. This can help identify vulnerabilities and potential risks, thus reducing the chances of any malicious activity within the assets. 


Data security is of the utmost importance in this rapidly-paced digital world. Confidential, highly sensitive data is always on the move or is stored digitally so as to not leave a literal insecure paper trail.

However, with the cyber world facing as many issues, hacks, and attacks as it is now, it is prudent to regularly conduct data security penetration testing with the aid of tools like Astra Pentest that make the job of security easier for you. Make the choice today to secure your data for the foreseeable future. 


What is a data security penetration test?

A data security penetration test is the systematic evaluation of one’s assets from websites to networks and more to ensure that the information and data of the company and its customers are stored and transmitted safely with industry-standard security.

What are the different types of security audits?

The different types of security audits include penetration tests, vulnerability assessments, compliance audits, and risk assessments.

How is a data security pentest done?

A data security pentest starts with establishing a thorough scope based on which an audit is carried out, the risks identified are evaluated and a data security audit report is generated based on which remediation is carried out.

Nivedita James Palatty

Nivedita is a technical writer with Astra who has a deep love for knowledge and all things curious in nature. An avid reader at heart she found her calling writing about SEO, robotics, and currently cybersecurity.
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