• What Are the Differences?

    Vulnerability Assessment is not Penetration Testing

Vulnerability assessment VS Penetration testing

Has it ever happened that you paid for Penetration Testing services and got hundreds of pages of ‘Penetration Testing’ reports listing vulnerabilities detected by a vulnerability scanning tool? Well, you are not alone. This problem is quite common as many providers offer Penetration Testing that turns out to be Vulnerability Assessment instead. Here, we will explain the two security services to prepare you for the search of a high-quality Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment vendor.

Vulnerability Assessment VS Penetration Testing

Vulnerability Assessment aims at identifying vulnerabilities in company networks and systems. The technique is used to estimate how susceptible the network is to different vulnerabilities. Vulnerability Assessment involves the use of automated network security scanning tools, whose results are listed in the report. Findings reflected in a Vulnerability Assessment report, but are not backed by an attempt to exploit them as some of them may be false positives.

The facility is not a regular building with regular specifications. The SOC facility should serve the SOC functions intended to be provided in the best way. We need to take a lot considerations into mind, such as design, entrance, cooling, access control, video walls, special desks, nap room, shift and staff manager, surveillance, etc. TSC depends on prequalified partners in providing this service and by supervising all operations and ensuring 100% compliance with the SOC requirements for highest continuity.

In contrast, Penetration Testing involves identifying vulnerabilities in a particular network and attempting to exploit them to penetrate into the system. The purpose of Penetration Testing is to determine whether a detected vulnerability is genuine. If a penetration tester manages to exploit a potentially vulnerable spot, he or she considers it genuine and reflects it in the report. The report can also show un-exploitable vulnerabilities as theoretical findings.

Breadth vs. Depth

The key difference between Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing is the vulnerability coverage, namely the breadth and the depth.

Vulnerability Assessment focuses on uncovering as many security weaknesses as possible (breadth over depth approach). It should be employed on a regular basis to maintain a network’s secure status, especially when network changes are introduced (e.g., new equipment installed, services added, ports opened). In addition, it will suit companies that are not mature security-wise and are looking into all possible security weaknesses.

Penetration Testing is preferable when a company is confidant of the strength of its network security defenses, but wants to ensure they are hack-proof (depth over breadth approach).

Degree of Automation

Another difference is the degree of automation. Vulnerability Assessment is usually automated, which allows for a wider vulnerability coverage, while Penetration Testing is a combination of automated and manual techniques, which helps dig deeper into the weaknesses.

Choice of Professionals

The third difference lies in the choice of professionals to perform both security assurance techniques. Automated testing, which is widely used in Vulnerability Assessment, does not require so much skill, so it can be performed by your security department members. However, the company’s security employees may find some vulnerabilities they cannot patch and not include them in the report. So, a third-party Vulnerability Assessment vendor might be more informative. Penetration Testing requires a considerably higher level of expertise (as it is manually-intensive) and should always be outsourced to a Penetration Testing services provider.

Questions and Answers:

Vulnerability Assessment

Penetration Testing

How often to perform the service?

Once a month. Plus an additional testing after changes in the network

Once a year at the least

What is in the report?

A comprehensive list of vulnerabilities, which may include false positives

A “call to action” document. It lists the vulnerabilities that were successfully exploited.

Who performs the service?

In-house security staff or a third-party vendor

A provider of Penetration Testing services.

What is the value of the service?

Uncovers a wide range of possible vulnerabilities.

Shows exploitable vulnerabilities.

The differences in stages:

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