Keepnet Labs Logo
Keepnet Labs > blog > pentesting-paradigm-shift-the-age-of-automation

Pentesting's Paradigm Shift: The Age of Automation

Explore the paradigm shift in pentesting as automation takes center stage, revolutionizing the way cybersecurity vulnerabilities are identified and addressed. Automation promises greater efficiency and comprehensive coverage, securing digital assets more effectively in 2024.

Pentesting's Paradigm Shift: The Age of Automation


Pentesting has emerged as a crucial shield, safeguarding systems and data from potential breaches. This practice, often visualized as the knight in shining armor of the cybersecurity realm, is tasked with identifying vulnerabilities before malicious entities exploit them. However, a significant portion of the pentesting community remains tethered to manual methodologies, a choice that, unbeknownst to many, comes with a hefty price tag.

The world of cybersecurity is akin to an ever-shifting battleground. New threats emerge daily, old vulnerabilities evolve, and the tools to combat them must adapt in tandem. Manual pentesting can be likened to bringing a knife to a gunfight in a dynamic environment. While the skills and expertise of a pentester are invaluable, manual processes can be time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient. Each hour spent on repetitive tasks is not dedicated to strategic threat analysis or proactive defense mechanisms. Moreover, the financial implications of manual pentesting, direct and indirect, can be substantial. The economic burden can quickly accumulate from the tangible costs associated with extended project timelines to the intangible ones like missed opportunities.

Yet, the narrative doesn't have to be bleak. Enter the era of automation in pentesting—a paradigm shift that promises to alleviate the challenges of manual processes and elevate the entire practice to new heights. Automation, in its essence, is about maximizing efficiency, reducing errors, and harnessing the full potential of technological advancements. It's about empowering pentesters to do more with less, to focus on complex problem-solving rather than mundane tasks, and to deliver results faster and more accurately.

At the forefront of this revolution is Keepnet Labs, a beacon for those navigating the choppy waters of cybersecurity challenges. With a deep understanding of the pentesting community's pain points, Keepnet Labs has championed the cause of automation, developing tools and solutions that seamlessly blend the expertise of a pentester with the efficiency of automated processes. Their offerings are not just about replacing manual with automated; they're about enhancing, enriching, and elevating the entire pentesting process.

As we delve deeper into this article, we'll uncover the multifaceted challenges of manual pentesting, spotlight the myriad benefits of automation, and explore how Keepnet Labs is setting new industry standards, one automated solution at a time.

The Current Landscape of Manual Pentesting

Manual pentesting has long been the conventional approach in the intricate cybersecurity world. Rooted in tradition, it has been the backbone of many security protocols, ensuring systems remain impervious to threats. However, as with many traditional methods, it has its pitfalls.

Time-Consuming Processes: Time is of the essence in the cybersecurity domain. With threats evolving at an unprecedented rate, swift response and proactive measures are paramount. Yet, manual pentesting often becomes a bottleneck. On average, a pentester dedicates a full 3 days to a single social engineering test. While this meticulous approach ensures thoroughness, it also means that other potential vulnerabilities might be left unchecked during this period. The ripple effect of this time investment is significant, leading to missed opportunities, potential security oversights, and a delayed response to emerging threats.

Financial Implications: Beyond the evident time implications, there's a substantial financial cost tethered to manual pentesting. With the average cost hovering around $100 per hour, a single test can escalate to a cost of $2,400 over a mere three days. This isn't just a dent in the pentester's pocket but extends to the organizations they serve. The financial burden becomes even more palpable when extrapolated over multiple yearly tests. Organizations find themselves allocating a significant portion of their budget to processes that could be streamlined, leaving fewer resources for other critical security initiatives.

Stress and Burnout: The human element in manual pentesting cannot be overlooked. Pentesters are not just battling against external threats but also against the clock. Manual tasks' repetitive and often monotonous nature and the immense responsibility of ensuring airtight security create a pressure-cooker environment. This constant high-stress scenario, where the stakes are always elevated, can lead to mental fatigue, decreased job satisfaction, and eventual burnout. Over time, this affects the pentester's well-being and can lead to oversights, errors, and decreased efficiency.

Delivery Challenges: In the realm of manual pentesting, ensuring that simulated attacks, especially phishing emails, reach their intended targets is a significant hurdle. With the rise of advanced spam filters, firewalls, and other security measures, many of these simulated threats are intercepted before they reach their destination. This poses a two-fold challenge:

Realism and Relevance: If a simulated attack doesn't reach its target, the pentester can't accurately gauge how an employee would react to a real threat. This diminishes the test's realism and relevance, making assessing an organization's true vulnerability level difficult.

Efficiency and Effectiveness: Pentesters often invest additional time and resources to bypass these security measures only for a simulated attack. This not only extends the duration of the test but also diverts attention from other critical areas, affecting the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the pentesting process.

False Positive Issues: The manual nature of traditional pentesting means that results are often peppered with false positives. These are instances where potential vulnerabilities are flagged, but upon closer inspection, they pose no real threat. Addressing these issues presents several challenges:

Time Drain: Sifting through and verifying each potential vulnerability to determine its legitimacy is time-consuming. This further extends the already lengthy duration of manual pentesting.

Resource Allocation: Addressing false positives requires additional resources in terms of manpower and tools. This can strain an organization's cybersecurity resources, diverting attention from genuine threats.

Credibility Concerns: Frequent false positives can lead to skepticism about the pentesting process. Over time, organizations might question the validity of the results, leading to potential complacency in addressing genuine vulnerabilities.

Delayed Response: The time spent addressing false positives can delay responding to real threats. In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, even a slight delay can have significant repercussions, giving malicious entities an advantage.

While manual pentesting has its merits, it's evident that the challenges it presents in the current fast-paced digital landscape are significant. As we progress, we'll explore how automation offers hope, promising to mitigate these challenges and usher in a new era of efficient, effective, and sustainable pentesting.

The Power of Automation

In the ever-evolving realm of cybersecurity, swift, efficient, and precise operations are paramount. As the challenges of manual pentesting become increasingly evident, the spotlight turns to automation as the potential savior. With its forward-thinking approach, Keepnet Labs has seamlessly integrated automation into its offerings, providing a robust solution to the inherent issues of manual processes.

  • Time Savings on Social Engineering Testing: Keepnet Labs' Human Risk Management platform stands out, reducing the traditional 3-day campaign to 20 minutes. This efficiency allows pentesters to tackle more tasks without sacrificing quality, ensuring comprehensive and current security measures.
  • Financial Benefits: The swift operation of Keepnet translates to notable financial savings. Costs can drop by approximately $2,366 per campaign, presenting a significant financial advantage.
  • Enhanced Productivity: With the time saved, pentesters can manage more significant assignments, boosting their productivity and offering better value to organizations.
  • Freedom from Repetition: Automation eliminates repetitive tasks, freeing pentesters from mundane activities. This liberation allows them to focus on more complex, high-value tasks.
  • Deep Dive into Security Challenges: With more time and resources, pentesters can explore intricate security issues, innovate solutions, and stay ahead of potential threats.
  • Unmatched Value Delivery: As facilitated by Keepnet Labs, automation can lead to a remarkable 97.92% reduction in time spent on social engineering testing. This efficiency ensures that pentesters remain proactive, ready to address the next challenge precisely.
  • No Delivery Issues: With advanced automation and optimized processes, the challenges of ensuring simulated attacks reach their intended targets are eliminated. This ensures accurate testing and genuine user interaction, enhancing the reliability of results.
  • No False Positives: Through precise algorithms and refined testing methods, the system minimizes the occurrence of false positives. This ensures that every flagged vulnerability is genuine, allowing for focused and effective remediation efforts.

Championed by Keepnet Labs, automation represents a significant shift from manual, error-prone processes to a streamlined and innovative approach. As the digital domain becomes more complex, automation guides pentesters towards excellence, positioning them at the forefront of cybersecurity defense.

The Hidden Costs of Manual Social Engineering Pentesting

While the immediate financial and time costs of manual pentesting are evident, there are subtler, often overlooked implications that can profoundly impact the overall efficacy and value of pentesting efforts. These hidden costs, though intangible, can significantly influence the trajectory of cybersecurity measures and the overall health of an organization's digital infrastructure.

  • Missed Opportunities:Every moment a pentester spends on repetitive, manual tasks is lost from higher-order activities that can bring more value. Instead of being mired in routine, pentesters could dedicate their expertise to strategic analysis, threat modeling, or proactive threat hunting. In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, where threats evolve rapidly, being proactive is crucial. By being reactive due to time constraints, pentesters might miss out on identifying emerging threats or devising innovative solutions to potential vulnerabilities. Over time, these missed opportunities can accumulate, leading to a reactive rather than proactive security posture, which can be detrimental in the long run.
  • Potential for Errors: The human element, while invaluable for its expertise and intuition, is also prone to errors, especially when subjected to repetitive tasks. By their very nature, manual processes increase the likelihood of oversights or inconsistencies. No matter how minor it may seem, a single oversight can leave a system vulnerable. These unaddressed vulnerabilities can be exploited in the worst-case scenario, leading to data breaches, system downtimes, or other security incidents. The repercussions of such incidents are not just immediate but can have long-term consequences, including reputational damage, loss of customer trust, and potential legal implications.

While manual pentesting has its merits, it's essential to recognize and account for its hidden costs. In an era where efficiency, proactivity, and precision are paramount, relying solely on manual processes can be a costly oversight. Embracing automation and modern tools, like those offered by Keepnet Labs, can help mitigate these hidden costs, ensuring that pentesting efforts are comprehensive, timely, and of the highest quality.

The Challenges and How Keepnet Labs Helps

That’s why we bring value to your life and business with our unique product. Here is how we do this?

StepsDescriptionWhat Pentester DoesChallengesEffort (man/hour)How Keepnet Helps?
Buy a new domainPhishing simulation needs a domain and subdomains related to the type of phishing scenario.Pentester buys the domain each time. Setting up name servers. Configure domain proxy for privacy. For the different campaigns, the pentester needs different subdomains.Pentest teams have too many pentesters, and all are not authorized to do this action.Pentester spends at least two hours purchasing a domain and setting up DNS records.Keepnet has 40+ phishing domains on the platform. All domains have privacy proxies, and IP addresses are not exposed online. Add new domains regularly. Customers can ask for new domains on the platform without spending time.
Email serverFor the delivery of phishing simulation emails, the pentester needs email servers.Mostly, pentesters have their email servers like Postfix, Qmail, Exim, etc., but all need installation, configuration, and maintenance costs.Not every pentester is an expert in creating and configuring an email server for different domains. The pentest team also has the challenge of getting blocked by secure email gateways and internet service providers. Pentester needs to handle bounce messages, and the queue of emails manually.Pentes team spends 50 hours annually, and hosting, internet, and IP addresses cost them at least $1000Keepnet has its own email servers on the cloud with dedicated IP addresses. Keepnet’s email server provides high-speed email delivery, reports bounces and blocks messages for visibility. Our email servers handle email queues and bounces.
Set up SPF, MX, DMARC, and DKIMSPF, MX, DMARC, and DKIM are all important email authentication protocols that help to verify the authenticity and integrity of email messages.Pentesters should configure SPF, MX, DMARC, and DKIM for better email delivery.Pentesters need help with all these configurations; they either spend their time if they’re experts about this or get support from an IT company. When new domains should be registered, all these processes start from scratch.That costs them at least 20 hours and $2500 annually.Keepnet has all these necessary DNS records for each domain. There is no need to spend time on it. Email delivery is guaranteed.
Set up an SSL certificateSimulation domain with a valid SSL certificate.Pentester buys an SSL certificate but has the challenge of buying a valid SSL certificate for newly registered phishing domains because not every SSL provider helps them to buy a valid SSL certificate. Pentesters mostly use free SSL certificate providers like lets-encrypt.A pentester should know how or ask an IT team to do it. Avoid getting blocked by internet service providers and security solutions like proxy, sandbox, etc.At least 2-3 hours are needed to buy an SSL certificate and set it up on related domains.Keepnet has valid wildcard SSL certificates for each domain and helps the pentester create a subdomain instantly with a valid SSL certificate. It saves pentesters a significant amount of time and effort, and there is no stress from being blocked by security solutions.
Create a new email templatePhishing emails come in all shapes and forms. It is important to create different templates for test processes.Pentesters design an email template and landing pages. Test it on popular email clients and browsers to ensure it works as expected.Pentesters are precious human resources and don’t like to spend their time writing different email templates. They see all this stuff as a waste of time.2–8 hours, depending on your coding knowledge.Keepnet has over 2,000 phishing templates and an easy-to-edit editor on the platform. Click-only, file-upload, data-submit, and attachment formatted phishing scenarios are ready.
Create a new landing pageWhen a user clicks on a link in a phishing test, this link domain will redirect them to a fake landing page.Pentester, who has coding skill, design a landing page for different purposes, such as file upload, data submission, MFA, etc. Pentesters must test this landing page on a popular web browser to ensure it works as expected.Many modern security solutions block web pages that capture client credentials, and mimic well-known brands. It’s a big challenge for a pentester to create a landing page that works for their client.4-10 hours, depending on expertise and type of the landing page.Keepent includes 1000+ landing pages that work on all modern browsers. Also, landing pages are tested by our engineers to make sure none of the security solutions detect them as malicious web pages.
Create a new attachmentWhen a user clicks on an attachment in a phishing test, the file can contain a link to click to view the document or prompt the user to enable macros to view the file content.--4-10 hours, depending on expertise.Keepnet has attachment-based templates in different formats like pptx, xls, docx, etc. and it allows you to upload your attachment to use it in phishing scenarios without knowing coding skills.
Upload target users from XLS(x), CSV, or LDAPUsers that will be tested must be uploaded into the system.--It will depend on the uploading type and the number of users. It will take an average of between 1 - 2 hours.Keepnet saves time and reduces complexity by giving you EXCEL/CSV/ upload option, SCIM integration, and API support.
Test phishing campaignTesting is an important part of the process where Pentesters need to evaluate whether their phishing templates are working before sending them to actual users.--1- 4 hours, depending on the phishing templates. If phishing templates are not working properly, some edits and improvements are needed.Keepnet helps you to test campaigns in different inboxes to see real results before launching the campaign. That way, you can increase the probability of delivery, and reduce the risk of being couch by security solutions.
Track reportPentest should track open, click, data submit, and download attachment metrics.Pentest uses internal tools or open-source solutions to visualize reports with limited capability.There are many metrics that customers are demanding after a phishing simulation. Pentester has a challenge to deliver these metrics.Depending on metrics and type of the phishing campaign, 10-15 hours are spent on each report.Keepnet has thousands of metrics customers desire and can provide more metrics in different report formats. Thanks to our API capability, customers can consume these data and have their reports. We also have a BI tools integration like PowerBI and Qlik to have unlimited reporting capabilities.
Share ReportNeed to share results with customer. Also, put data on the pentest report.Pentester shares result in pentest report.Pentester can not create a customized report for customers' requirements. Localizing reports with language, customer brand, etc.1-2 hours sharing reports with customers is hard.Keepnet has a reporting capability that customers export in different formats. Give access to their customer to the reporting dashboards with a read-only role.
Delivery issuesPhishing emails are mostly delivered by email to organisation inboxes.Pentester has email delivery options only because the company can not give full access to Pentester for the email server.It is hard to bypass all security solutions and avoid false clicks.2-6 hours per test depends on customers' security solutions to deliver email to inboxes. Not lucky enough to do that always; sometimes, it is impossible.Keepnet has a direct email creation feature to create emails in targeted employees’ inboxes without having any delivery issues. No Some edits and improvements are needed ifitelisting is needed. Guaranteed delivery!

The Challenges and How Keepnet Labs Helps

From Pentester to Pentesters: Keepnet Labs' Solution

Keepnet Labs, with its roots deeply embedded in the pentesting community, has firsthand knowledge of manual pentesting's hurdles. With this insight, they've meticulously crafted a suite of products designed specifically for pentesters, ensuring they have the best resources to tackle the evolving digital landscape.

Realistic & Tailored Simulations: Keepnet Labs offers a spectrum of advanced simulation tools that range from Phishing to Vishing , Smishing , or MFA . These tools are complemented by customizable templates and realistic scenarios, ensuring that every test is comprehensive and reflects real-world threats.

Efficient Delivery & Reporting: The era of grappling with whitelisting issues is over. With Keepnet Labs, pentesters can create simulation emails directly, ensuring their tests reach their targets without hitches. Beyond this, the platform offers automated insights, allowing pentesters to gauge the efficacy of their tests quickly. For those who crave deeper analysis, integration with BI tools like PowerBI and Qlik is seamlessly facilitated.

Advanced Integration & Customization: The digital world is diverse, and so are its threats. Catering to this diversity, Keepnet Labs provides features like multilingual support and custom domain usage. Furthermore, with API-driven automation, the platform ensures that pentesters can integrate their tools and processes, creating a cohesive and streamlined pentesting experience.

The hidden costs of manual pentesting, both evident and subtle, underscore the need for a paradigm shift. While the expertise and intuition of a pentester are irreplaceable, modern challenges require modern solutions. Keepnet Labs, with its suite of advanced tools, offers just that. Bridging the gap between manual processes and automation, they're setting the gold standard in pentesting efficiency and efficacy.

If you're keen to explore the transformative power of Keepnet Labs' Human Risk Management Platform , we invite you to experience it firsthand. Sign up for a free 15-day trial and witness the difference. And if you'd like a deeper dive, schedule a one-to-one demo with our experts to see our platform's myriad benefits. Embrace the future of pentesting with Keepnet Labs.



Schedule your 30-minute demo now

You'll learn how to:
tickAutomate behaviour-based security awareness training for employees to identify and report threats: phishing, vishing, smishing, quishing, MFA phishing, callback phishing!
tickAutomate phishing analysis by 187x and remove threats from inboxes 48x faster.
tickUse our AI-driven human-centric platform with Autopilot and Self-driving features to efficiently manage human cyber risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pentesting, and why is it essential in today's digital age?

arrow down

Pentesting, or penetration testing, is a cybersecurity practice that identifies vulnerabilities in systems and data to prevent potential breaches. In today's digital age, with increasing cyber threats, pentesting is a crucial shield against these threats.

Why is manual pentesting considered inefficient in the current cybersecurity landscape?

arrow down

Manual pentesting can be time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. It often involves repetitive tasks that take away from strategic threat analysis. Moreover, the direct and indirect financial implications can be substantial.

How does automation in pentesting change the game?

arrow down

Automation in pentesting maximizes efficiency, reduces errors, and harnesses technological advancements. It allows pentesters to focus on complex problem-solving rather than mundane tasks, delivering results faster and more accurately.

Who is Keepnet Labs, and how are they revolutionizing the pentesting process?

arrow down

Keepnet Labs is at the forefront of the automation revolution in pentesting. They develop tools and solutions that blend the expertise of a pentester with the efficiency of automated processes, enhancing the entire pentesting process.

What are the hidden costs associated with manual pentesting?

arrow down

Beyond the evident financial and time costs, manual pentesting can lead to missed opportunities, potential errors, and a reactive security posture. These hidden costs can impact the overall efficacy and value of pentesting efforts.

How does Keepnet Labs' Phishing Simulator differ from traditional methods?

arrow down

Keepnet Labs' Phishing Simulator can condense a traditional 3-day campaign into 30 minutes, leading to significant time and financial savings.

What challenges do pentesters face when setting up manual pentesting processes?

arrow down

Challenges include time-consuming processes, financial costs, stress, burnout, the potential for errors, and the need for continuous updates to tackle evolving threats.

How does Keepnet Labs ensure realistic and tailored simulations for pentesters?

arrow down

Keepnet Labs offers a range of advanced simulation tools, customizable templates, and realistic scenarios to ensure comprehensive and real-world threat testing.

What integration and customization features does Keepnet Labs offer?

arrow down

Keepnet Labs provides features like multilingual support, custom domain usage, and API-driven automation, allowing pentesters to integrate their tools and processes seamlessly.

How do you experience the benefits of Keepnet Labs' Human Risk Management Platform?

arrow down

Interested partners can sign up for a free 15-day trial or schedule a one-to-one demo with Keepnet Labs' experts to explore the platform's benefits.

iso 27017 certificate
iso 27018 certificate
iso 27001 certificate
ukas 20382 certificate
Cylon certificate
Crown certificate
Gartner certificate
Tech Nation certificate