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Has it ever happened to you to spend on penetration testing services and receive a hundred-something-page “penetration testing” report listing vulnerabilities recognized by a vulnerability scanning tool? Well, you’re not alone. The problem is pretty common, as many providers allow penetration testing that turns out to be a vulnerability assessment. 

 

Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability assessment aims to identify vulnerabilities in a network. The method is used to estimate how sensitive the network is to different vulnerabilities. Vulnerability assessment includes the use of automated network security scanning tools, whose outcomes are listed in the report. As conclusions reflected in a vulnerability assessment report are not supported by an effort to exploit them, some of them may be wrong positives.

 

Penetration testing

In distinction to vulnerability assessment, penetration testing includes identifying vulnerabilities in an appropriate network and striving to exploit them to penetrate into the system.

The objective of penetration testing is to decide whether a detected vulnerability is genuine. If a pentester manages to use a potentially vulnerable spot, he or she thinks it genuine and reflects it in the report. The report can also display unexploitable vulnerabilities as theoretical findings. Don’t mix these theoretical findings with false-positives. Theoretical vulnerabilities abuse the network but it’s a bad idea to misuse them as this will lead to DoS.

 

Vulnerability assessment vs. penetration testing

 

Difference 1. Breadth vs. depth

The chief difference between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing is the vulnerability coverage, particularly the breadth and depth.

Vulnerability assessment concentrates on uncovering as many security weaknesses as possible (breadth over depth approach). It should be used on a regular basis to keep a network’s secure status, especially when network changes are presented(e.g., new equipment installed, services added, ports opened). Also, it will satisfy organizations that are not securely ready and want to know all possible security weaknesses.

Penetration testing, in its turn, is superior, when the customer states that network security defenses are strong, but requires to check if they are hack-proof (depth over breadth approach).

 

Difference 2. The degree of automation

Another difference, attached to the previous difference is the degree of automation. Vulnerability assessment is normally automated, which enables for a wider vulnerability coverage, and penetration testing is a mixture of automated and manual techniques, which serves to dig deeper into the weakness.

 

Difference 3. The choice of professionals

The third difference lies in the selection of professionals to deliver both security assurance techniques. Automated testing, which is generally used in vulnerability assessment, doesn’t need so much skill, so it can be completed by your security department members. However, the company’s security employees may discover some vulnerabilities they can’t patch and not involve them in the report. So, a third-party vulnerability assessment vendor might be more enlightening. In its turn, penetration testing claims a considerably higher level of expertise and should always be outsourced to a penetration testing services provider.

 

Which Should You Choose?

Vulnerability assessments and pen tests each have value and can help create associations more reliable. The right decision for a particular association and condition relies upon a few components, yet the most crucial is presumably how to develop the association’s security policy is.

If your association is simply starting to focus on security, a robust vulnerability assessment is an incredible place to start. You’ll likely exhibit a more significant number of vulnerabilities that you imagined were available.

Completing successful pen testing needs a specific arrangement of skills, and those abilities need significant investment and experience to accomplish. A good pen tester can proficiently devise an attack plan that matches the most likely weak controls. Those are the ones you most want to moderate.

As your security availability increases, you’ll presumably use both vulnerability assessments and pen tests. They function great together to make your domain hard to compromise.

Still in confusion about what to choose, Connect with TestUnity to know more which type of testing will suit you. 

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