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Top Challenges of Traditional Pen Tests

Top Challenges Of Traditional Pen Tests

Penetration testing (or pen testing) has become common practice for vulnerability assessment over the past decade. There are several reasons why people do pen tests. Identifying risky vulnerabilities for developers to address is great practice for risk reduction. That being said, many times the reasons to commission pen tests are regulatory compliance, customer expectation, or contractual requirements — essentially just to “check the box.” 

With the pen testing market size expecting to grow 21% by 2025, it’s little wonder that pen tests are so popular. Hacking has only increased in recent years, and companies are desperate to secure their digital assets and keep and their customers safe. However, traditional pen testing can be expensive and, if done incorrectly, still not create the security companies require to reduce their risk.

The drive to push down the cost of pen testing through software automation and to check-the-box has put the efficacy of pen testing into question. Increasingly, traditional penetration testing is suffering from shortcomings that lessen its effectiveness for risk reduction.

To help companies understand the shortcomings of traditional pen tests (and ways to overcome them) we created this list.

Top Challenges of Traditional Pen Tests

Blind Spots

Penetration testing firms are consulting firms first and foremost. That means billable hours are king. Consultants will often be double-booked across projects and always under the gun to produce their testing report. This drives down the time of actual testing and common reuse of past findings from previous tests so that reports pass the “weight test.” Ultimately, can this can lead to untested portions of the target application and vulnerability blind spots.


Pen testing is usually performed by one or two people using a rote methodology. Most companies typically only run one or two pen tests per year. Given the huge number of potential adversaries and their diverse skillset and creativity, it’s unrealistic to expect such an approach will uncover even a fraction of the vulnerabilities an application may have.

Platform Integrations

Typical pen tests produce a long-form report made up of checkboxes and associated vulnerabilities. There’s no integration into the software development lifecycle, adding operational overhead and slowing the pace of both remediation and application development.

Time to Market

Traditional pen tests are “point in time” exercises, but in today’s continuous application deployment paradigm, point in time may as well be never. Testing once or twice a year will leave new application code and attack surface untested for months.

The reality is that organizations continue to spend money on pen tests because they are well-understood and accepted by auditors and compliance regulations, and not because they are effective for reducing risk or controlling costs.

Ideal Solution – Next-Gen Pen Testing

Bugcrowd’s Next Gen Pen Testing (NGPT) delivers the only scalable model for sidestepping the operational handcuffs of traditional testing approaches. Bugcrowd NGPT delivers more vulnerabilities than traditional penetration testing, dramatically improving both security posture and software development best practices.

NGPT reduces blind spots by using a crowdsourced team of experts uniquely paired to your organization’s target(s). It reduces inflexibility and time-to-market by giving companies the option of running continuous testing. Essentially, it is the type of pen testing that today’s evolving world needs.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of whether your team decides to go with Bugcrowd’s NGPT as your pen test solution of choice, consider the limitations of traditional pen tests. Whoever you decide to work with, make sure they have the ability and insight to overcome these traditional pen test hurdles.

Ready to learn more about pen testing? Check out this article – What is Pen testing?


Lauren Craigie

Director of Product Marketing at Bugcrowd.

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