Cyber-security threats are always evolving, and the threat surface presented by corporate networks is also constantly in flux. The risks faced by companies and other institutions change from day to day. What worked last week in warding off attacks, may well be out of date and obsolete as you read this blog.
The ever-changing nature of cyber-security threats is what makes test management so crucial. It’s why we model perimeters and endpoints and seek to understand how they interface with external actors. That’s why we try to isolate particular weaknesses and model potential attacks.
With the right tests in place, we can trace the way malevolent actors can penetrate our IT systems, and the damage they could do. And we can fine-tune the way we respond, locking down potential entry points and putting plans in place should attacks breakthrough.
From a cyber-security perspective, picking the right testing management tools is vital. Nonetheless, what are these tools and what factors should you think about when sourcing these tools?
Why Test Management Tools are so Important
Test management simply refers to the process of running and assessing these vital tests. That might sound simple on the surface, but the quality of test management tools varies widely. For instance, some take into account the widest possible array of vulnerabilities, while others lag behind. Most will have this broad set of capabilities and features:
Test management tools should include ways to prepare relevant testing schedules, taking into account valid risks, at a level of detail that ensures action can be taken to monitor and deal with them.
When the risks have been assessed, testing software allows users to build plans which specify the nature of the testing, its duration and dates, how widely it ranges (scope), and its cost – both in terms of money and staff resources.
Automation means the ability to sync up with automation systems to run assessments in the background. While running assessments the company’s requirement test matrix also gets amended following every procedure.
Manual and Automatic Scheduling
Users can bundle up various tests in custom configurations, and run them as they need to, or leave automatic schedulers to take care of things.
Test management tools generate comprehensive reports of their test outcomes, providing a useful, relevant way to analyze this data. With that information, analysts can take effective action to remedy any weaknesses, or provide updates to managers regarding system integrity.
When added together, these features make test management software a vital ally for project and network managers. But here’s the problem: pick the wrong testing tools, and all kinds of issues can arise, from poor quality reports to inefficient execution.
What Makes an Effective Test Management Tool?
Choosing the correct tools for threat assessment is essential, and when the choice needs to be made, there are several criteria to take into consideration:
A good test management tool will be one that suits your IT infrastructure or project setting. You most likely already have an established suite of networking tools and database systems in place, and you have an OS of choice.
When picking a test management package, be sure to choose one that is compatible with all of your key software. And make sure that the tool you choose works with the kind of testing you need to do. For example, some tools are perfectly suited to modeling client-company interactions and the client-side of things. Others are more tuned in to internal networks.
Testing tools will require the infrastructure of their own to function. They tend to be fairly data-intensive, for good reasons. To adequately test potential security vulnerabilities, they need to run millions of operations in short periods, mimicking the actions of real-world attackers.
This appetite for CPU power means that they tend to need a dedicated server. However, some testing tools are set up as a SaaS package, with much of the grunt work taking place remotely. This can be a lightweight solution for smaller businesses but means that operators lose a degree of control over the process (and there may be data security risks associated with using the Cloud). So, you’ll need to balance up costs and benefits of the various hosting options.
As we noted earlier, good test management tools need to turn test metrics into usable outputs, which is where solid report generation features come in handy. In some cases, companies may want to integrate testing tools with their network analysis and support software, but this isn’t always practical.
Instead, many of the best test management apps are built around open APIs which provide users with maximum freedom to build their own reporting systems. This isn’t going to be of much use to smaller companies with limited tech resources, but if you have the expertise, opting for customizable testing packages is a good idea.
In any case, make sure that the tools you choose have clear, flexible reporting systems, as, without them, you’ll be overwhelmed by data and have very few ways of turning it into actions.
Nowadays, many organizations depend on mobile devices and remote operations, instead of keeping everything close to a central location. The rapid expansion of remote points of sale, the use of tablets, and the availability of high-speed Wi-Fi for remote working has challenged testing software to keep up.
Not all developers have done so, which means that you’ll need to check that your package of choice can test Android, iOS, Blackberry, and any other mobile tools that are part of your perimeter.
Flexible Detail Levels
When building test plans, operators should have the ability to set a level of resolution which meets their needs. But all good testing tools have default settings that provide a fine level of granularity – enabling users to pinpoint any flaws in minute detail.
When you carry out tests, you need to know exactly where problems arose. You need knowledge about why payment systems broke down, why websites failed to load, and why data was compromised. The best testing software will zoom in on every potential danger point and make it clear precisely what led to the issue.
Bundling and Scheduling
Testing procedures can be organized into bundles to assist staff with their workloads and to ensure that all related tests are linked together. So, you may want to combine cybersecurity testing for a specific sale channel, or divide tests geographically.
Good test management systems allow IT staff to apportion tasks however they wish, and to create discrete bundles that remain connected to the overall testing matrix. Ideally, you should be able to analyze outputs at individual test, bundle, and enterprise or project-wide scales, so check for these abilities before deciding.
Finally, good test management systems provide ways to reduce the amount of work required. Recent innovations in testing software have led to breakthroughs in test automation, drastically cutting back the amount of work needed to set up plans, run tests, and analyze the results.
Taken together, these factors will help you select test management tools that secure your threat perimeter and help to streamline your business operations. So don’t fall for the first package you see or even the highest-rated applications around. Each network is different, and every situation demands certain features to get the best results.