Black Hat Fireside Chat: makes a strong case for continuous, self-service pentesting

By Byron V. Acohido

LAS VEGAS — Penetration testing, traditionally, gave businesses a nice, pretty picture of their network security posture — at a given point in time.

Related: Going on the security offensive

Such snapshots proved useful for building audit trails, particularly for companies in heavily regulated industries. However, manual pentests never really were very effective at shining a light on emerging cyber exposures of the moment.

Enter advanced pentesting. One of the hot topics at Black Hat USA 2023, which ramps up here this week in the desert heat, is how automation and machine learning are underpinning pentesting solutions deeply and continuously. This self-service, self-directed, continuous infrastructure pentesting approach allows organization to discover their exploitable attack surfaces and reduced their risk.

I had the chance to visit with someone in the thick of this important shift: Snehal Antani, CEO of, a San Francisco-based supplier of “autonomous” vulnerability assessment technology. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Guest expert: Snehal Antani, CEO,

Since its launch in 2020, Horizon3 has run more than 24,000 automated pentests — with a singular focus on building out advanced decision-making algorithms, Antani told me. This is all towards providing its customers with a granular, real-time view of their exploitable network vulnerabilities and equipping them to remediate more efficiently, he says.

Is what Horizon3 and other pentesting innovators are pursuing going to be enough to keep pace as the threat actors leverage generative AI to pump up their attacks? I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.


Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)


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