Categories: Education

How to Prepare Your Organisation for a CREST Penetration Test

Penetration testing is an essential part of maintaining an organisation’s cybersecurity posture. Opting for a CREST-accredited penetration test ensures that the assessment is carried out by highly qualified professionals adhering to rigorous standards. Preparing your organisation for such a test not only facilitates a smooth process but also maximises the benefits of this critical evaluation. Here’s a guide to effectively prepare for a CREST penetration test.

Understand the Scope of the Test

Before the penetration testers arrive, it’s crucial to clearly define and understand the scope of the test. Determine which networks, applications, and systems will be examined. Limiting the scope can help protect sensitive data and critical operations while ensuring that the test remains comprehensive enough to be meaningful. Engage with your CREST provider to set these boundaries, ensuring they align with your cybersecurity objectives and business needs.

Secure Stakeholder Buy-In

CREST Penetration testing can impact various aspects of your organisation, from IT to customer service. Securing buy-in from stakeholders across all relevant departments is critical. Inform them about the purpose of the test, the expected outcomes, and how it can benefit the organisation. This helps in managing expectations and minimises disruptions during the testing process.

Review and Update Policies

Ensure that your security policies and procedures are up to date before the test begins. This includes reviewing access controls, incident response plans, and user privilege guidelines. The testers will need to understand your policies to effectively mimic the actions of potential attackers. Additionally, ensure that these policies are not only documented but also strictly followed. Discrepancies between policy and practice can create vulnerabilities that might be exploited during testing.

Prepare Your IT Team

Your IT team should be well-prepared for the penetration test. This preparation involves ensuring they are available to manage and monitor the testing process. They should also be ready to respond to any critical issues that might arise during testing. Providing them with the schedules and expected testing methods will help them prepare their systems and ensure they can quickly address any problems, reducing downtime and potential impacts on productivity.

Back-Up Critical Data

Even though CREST-accredited testers follow strict protocols to prevent data loss, it is advisable to back up critical data before the test begins. This acts as a safety net, ensuring that you can restore all systems to their original state if something unexpected occurs. It’s better to be safe, particularly when testing scenarios that could potentially disrupt operational systems.

Communicate with Your Penetration Testing Provider

Open communication with your CREST-accredited provider is vital. Discuss all technical and logistical requirements in advance. If your organisation uses specific technologies or has unique configurations, share this information with the testers. This will help them prepare appropriate tools and techniques to effectively assess your environment.

Legal and Compliance Checks

Ensure that all activities are compliant with relevant laws and regulations, particularly concerning data protection, such as the GDPR. The contractual agreement with your CREST provider should clearly outline the scope of the test, methodologies used, and measures taken to protect sensitive data.


Preparing for a CREST penetration test involves meticulous planning and coordination across your organisation. By defining the scope, securing stakeholder buy-in, ensuring policies are robust and adhered to, preparing your IT team, backing up data, maintaining open communication with your provider, and ensuring legal compliance, you can facilitate a successful penetration testing process. This not only helps in identifying vulnerabilities but also enhances your overall security stance, safeguarding your organisation against potential threats.


Ethan is the founder, owner, and CEO of EntrepreneursBreak, a leading online resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners. With over a decade of experience in business and entrepreneurship, Ethan is passionate about helping others achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

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