Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing

Given all the different ways hackers can attack your company's networks and systems, you may be wondering what security measures are best prevented? Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing can save you valuable time troubleshooting problems later.

First of all, you need to understand the difference between the two terms because they are interrelated. 

Many companies do penetration testing, which turns out to be vulnerability assessment, so this problem is quite common. In this article, Let's review the main differences between these two types of security tests:

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerabilities are like little obstacles that your company's technology infrastructure needs to jump over. Such a scan will help identify potential network traffic and web application security issues and detect any weaknesses that hackers looking for easy targets can exploit. A typical assessment analyzes the firewall, web applications, servers, and other devices associated with a company's technology infrastructure to discover any potential weaknesses or problems.

Potential vulnerabilities identified are included in the report. Because the vulnerability assessment report results are not accompanied by attempts to exploit the weaknesses, some of them may be false positives.

 It's crucial to make sure you understand which ones are critical before you spend time addressing other, less pressing issues because confusion will only lead to more problems along the way!

A good way to organize the vulnerabilities you find is by severity. The most serious vulnerabilities will be labeled "high" in order of severity, followed by mid-level issues labeled "medium" or lower - so it's easier for you to understand what needs to be fixed first when you analyze the report.


Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is focused on finding vulnerabilities to protect information. The goal of a penetration test is to find out vulnerabilities and try to fix them to access the system. It is the goal of a penetration test to verify the authenticity of detected vulnerabilities and may include theoretical detection of unexploited vulnerabilities.

Testers try to do this via possible attacks on systems that can be used for targeted hacking or through general research. Suppose testers successfully penetrate a system with an exploit passed off as legitimate. In that case, this will be reflected in the penetration testing report along with other test results, such as exploits and vulnerabilities found.

These testers use their knowledge and skills to replicate what they think will happen if someone tries to enter your network with malicious intent, allowing them to see how easy or difficult that feat might be against different types of software and hardware.


The Critical Differences Between Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing

The Scope

The scope of vulnerability scanning is what differentiates it from penetration testing. An assessment typically covers multiple areas, such as identifying potential threats or risk factors that could cause a system to fail if not adequately mitigated.

Penetration testing is an ideal choice for clients who want to make sure their network security risks are not compromised but don't have the time or money to conduct thorough tests. 

These experts take a bottom-up approach and test for vulnerabilities in order of depth - from the surface level to the core servers. With this approach, depth is more important than breadth because if there are too many holes, it will take longer to fix them in the long run.


The Level of Automation

Vulnerability testing is often automated, which means it can be done more efficiently and with more coverage of vulnerabilities than handled by people one at a time.

On the other hand, penetration testing combines automated procedures and procedures requiring human intervention to further investigate issues.


Another distinction is the complexity of performing each test and the level of skill required of the tester. Automated testing, mostly used in vulnerability security assessments, does not require a high level of expertise and can be performed by security personnel. However, a company's security staff may find some vulnerabilities that they cannot address and leave them out of the report. As a result, vulnerability testing conducted by a third-party provider may be more helpful in addressing security weaknesses. In addition, you will be aware of the third-party provider's security strategy.

On the other hand, penetration testing requires much more knowledge and is usually delegated to a penetration testing company.

Instead of focusing on a single vulnerability, a penetration tester may combine multiple vulnerabilities to produce more significant changes. When a vulnerability chain is used in appropriate situations, what may not be assessed as serious in vulnerability testing can become the cornerstone of a more insidious attack.

The current threat environment is so severe that enterprises often combine these two complementary strategies.


Final Thoughts

While both are critical, it's clear that organizations should focus on providing a full range of cybersecurity measures, not just information security.


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