What is the Difference Between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment?

There is a substantial amount of confusion in the IT industry with regard to the difference between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment, as the two terms are incorrectly used interchangeably. However, defining these information security strategies and understanding their implications is a daunting task. Penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking or pen testing, is the proactive and systematic approach used by ethical hackers or pen testers to scale a simulated cyber attack in the face of corporate IT infrastructure to safely check for exploitable vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may exist in the systems, services, applications, misconfigurations, and/or precarious end user’s behavior.

On the other hand, a vulnerability assessment is used to find and measure the severity of vulnerabilities within the system in question. It provides a list of vulnerabilities that are often prioritized by severity and/or business criticality. Unlike penetration testing, a vulnerability assessment merely finds and reports noted vulnerabilities. It involves the comprehensive and thorough evaluation of security defenses designed to discover weaknesses and recommends appropriate remediation to reduce or remove risk altogether.

In this article, you will learn the differences between penetration testing and vulnerability assessment in greater details. In fact, both terms are integral components of a threat and vulnerability management program.

Method #1 – Penetration Testing

Unlike a vulnerability assessment, which is a list-oriented, penetration testing is generally a goal-oriented exercise. Penetration testing has no business with discovering vulnerabilities and is rather more concentrated on the simulated attack to test security posture and identify porous holes that a real hacker could exploit to penetrate your corporate network.

Penetration testing typically is more useful when an organization’s maturity level of security is high—meaning that this organization has a strong security posture but needs to check whether or not it is hack-proof. Thus, pen testing is more (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from InfoSec Resources authored by Fakhar Imam. Read the original post at: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/infosecResources/~3/gC4VRqbs8eQ/