The UK Public Sector Deserves a Better Way to Pentest

The UK public sector is feeling the squeeze between an increase in cyber attacks and a lack of effective resources to keep up.

To bolster application security, The UK Government recently laid out its plans in the 2022 Government Cyber-Security Strategy. The aim was for the UK Government’s critical functions to be significantly hardened against cyber attacks by 2025, with all government organisations across the public sector being resilient to known vulnerabilities and attack methods no later than 2030. It goes on the state that whilst ‘cyberspace is now integral to our future security and prosperity...the scale and speed of this change – often outpacing our social norms, laws, and democratic institutions – is also unleashing unprecedented complexity, instability and risk.’

Countering this threat requires a multi-pronged approach, including dedicated and continuous application security testing. Many government organisations already use annual penetration testing (pentesting) to identify issues and comply with regulations. However, traditional pentesting alone falls short in today’s complex and rapidly changing threat landscape. 

In this paper, we discuss the importance of pentesting, highlight the drawbacks of traditional pentesting, and describe a new approach that addresses these shortcomings. This new solution offers continuous pentesting of web and mobile applications by a crowdsourced team of expert, ethical security researchers, combined with an enabling pentesting platform. It can surpass legacy pentesting in scope, speed and scalability. Further, it provides valuable insights and context about vulnerabilities that are uncovered. For example in August 2021, the MoD successfully launched it’s first ‘Bug Bounty’ programme, with ethical hackers being rewarded for identification of real vulnerabilities, thus strengthening the UK’s defences.

This innovative solution can help government departments, agencies and public bodies protect critical software, platforms, and APIs more effectively while meeting increased security requirements.

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Tom Chapman,
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