According to the latest news reports, leading multinational pharmaceutical companies, playing a key role in affordable and innovative medicines, suffered a massive data breach recently.
The research labs had exposed sensitive data of millions of patients, including COVID -19 test results along with their booking details such as their name, address, phone number, email id, payment details, digital signature and the medical tests prescribed.
Breaches as such occur, as a result of unauthorized access to the system for accessing sensitive information. It could be due to unprotected networks and processing systems and lack of best security and privacy practices in place. In the wake of such incidents, it becomes mandatory on the part of all businesses to make data security as their highest priority.
The data breach has been a sharp reminder of the need to adopt security standards and  data privacy  frameworks like  ISO/IEC 27001, HIPAA, GDPR  etc to strengthen the digital infrastructure and tighten cyber security control measures of the business organization especially for ones that expand to multinationals. Adherence to these will help to minimize any security incident that would have a major impact on business operations.
The growing risk of attacks on the business and security weakness emphasises organizations the need to secure and safeguard people, process and technology.
At a minimum, organizations should think to implement and perform regular Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration testing (VAPT) practices to understand and evaluate immediate risk.
Vulnerability Assessment  is a process of discovering a system's vulnerabilities, by having an in-depth evaluation of security weaknesses that affect an information system that is present internally and/or externally.
Penetration testing  (commonly referred to as pen testing) is the process of actively checking your business application and systems to determine if potential vulnerabilities can actually be exploited, performed under controlled conditions, simulating scenarios representative of what a real attacker would attempt.
VAPT is the Norm for Security Testing:
Pacing with lightning speed with new testing methodologies, the two significant tests namely Vulnerability assessment and Penetration testing provide an integrated view of threats while locking the scope of vulnerabilities.
Still thinking why consider VAPT ?
- Avoid Unauthorised access:  Testing current security posture can expose security posture under controlled circumstances. It helps us identify the current loopholes, so that they can be efficiently addressed.
- Infrastructure under control:  VAPT can identify vulnerabilities inadvertently introduced during changes to the environment, such as a major upgrade or system reconfiguration.
- Security under Surveillance:  Organizations, especially those acting as data custodians, are being required to showcase their efficient security posture to their customers. Penetration testing can demonstrate a commitment to security from a customer perspective and provide attestation that their assets or services are being managed securely.
- Risk Management:  VAPT is a common requirement for internal due diligence as part of ongoing efforts to manage threats, vulnerabilities, and risks to an organization. Results can be used as input into an on-going Risk Management process.
- Protect Business.  VAPT allows companies to proactively assess for emerging or newly discovered vulnerabilities that were not known.
Ohhk, but how to proceed with VAPT ?
VAPT assessments require a clear methodology and planning, a few key steps involved are as follows :
- Planning the scope  - Decide which systems components (network devices, servers, security devices, applications etc) either accessible from external or internal will be included in the scope of testing.
- Vulnerability Assessment  - Perform the assessment by using various testing methods and tools to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats to the scoped systems.
- Exploitation-  The valid vulnerabilities are exploited further to check for the extent of information gained and impact on the  specific system with respect to the confidentiality, integrity and availability.
- Reporting  - Results from VAPT testing must be analysed,confirmed and documented. This includes recommendations and prioritization of threats that need to be addressed.
If there is a data breach in customer data, then organizations will have reputational damage which can be devastating. Studies have shown that almost a third of customers from retail, finance and healthcare will stop doing business with organizations if their data has been breached. So, it is always better to have a robust security and privacy systems and good VAPT practices in place.