PTaaS: What Is It?

2 min Read

Pen testing as a service (PTaaS) is a cloud base service that provides point-in-time and continuous application and infrastructure pen testing services, which used to rely on human pen-testers using commercial/proprietary tools.

The service is delivered by using a SaaS platform that leverages a combination of human pen testers and automation to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the results.


PTaaS has one goal; to help organizations build vulnerability management programs that are able to successfully discover, prioritize and fix any security threat quickly and efficiently.

In other words, PTaaS performs continuous simulated attacks for the purpose of detecting security issues, this allows organizations to create effective vulnerability management programs that allow them to quickly locate, prioritize and mitigate security threats.

How it works

Before cloud computing, pen test results were presented after the testing period concluded, and while the information was helpful, the outdated nature of the data made it difficult for the security teams to compute and fix the results. In this time and age, pentests through cloud computing and automation technologies allow organizations to deliver and gain continuous, reliable, and real-time testing insights.
Automated pen tests are conducted through a Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model that allows customers to view the data in real-time in a dashboard showing all the relevant data throughout the whole process; before, during, and after the test is performed. At the same time, PTaaS vendors also provide their clients with resources for breaking down vulnerabilities and verifying how effective the remediations are.
Most PTaaS platforms are very flexible and can suit organizations of any size, from a full testing program to custom reporting features for the organizations that need to cover heavy compliance burdens.

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Benefits of using PTaaS

Companies with less experience in the security industry gain a partner and a platform that helps and provides them with everything they need to put together a successful vulnerability and threat management program. The biggest benefit of PTaaS is the control that it gives the user.

Other benefits include:

  1. Flexible Purchasing Options: Hybrid, manual and automated pen test services can be budgeted in a monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription or even on an as-needed basis.
  3. Real-Time Access to Data: The data is constantly available and updated, showing how a vulnerability or exploit evolves over time.
  5. Flexible Reporting Options: Many PTaaS platforms provide results that meet the needs of multiple stakeholders by correlating their findings from multiple sources.
  7. Automation: Automated workflows make vulnerability scanning for unauthenticated web applications and external networks easier to conduct.
  9. Early detection and remediation: PTaaS allows the user to detect and remediate issues during the development of the software.

Challenges of using PTaaS

  • No Full Report: Traditional reports that are created and provided to auditors, call for a complete technical summary or cover specific snapshots. Full reports are important for organizations required to meet high compliance regulations.

  • Third Party Restrictions: Some third-party providers don’t enable pentesting on a continuous basis, this means that it’s required to ask permission in advance. One example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which demands that you obtain testing authorization and allow a maximum window of twelve weeks. This means you can do PTaaS in their environment but would have to ask for permission at least four or five times per year.

  • Sensitive data retention & handling: Each vendor has its own way to handle sensitive data. However, most of them use encryption to secure the data. The majority of encryption processes use key management, which creates complications for PTaaS and means it might not be possible to archive data at rest using the keys.

  • Budget Limitation: When orchestration is automated, customers can manage budget and internal resources in a more efficient way, which in turn, allows them to run more tests. Underfunded and newer security programs sometimes struggle to rectify the vulnerabilities discovered during annual penetration testing, let alone in shorter time cycles.

Gabriela Marcos

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