What makes Penetration Testing Different than Vulnerability Assessment?

If you are a security professional, you are most definitely familiar with what vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are. These two are types of vulnerability testing in order to complete a vulnerability analysis. Both are valuable tools for information security and are integral components of the process of managing threat and vulnerability of network systems.

These tests have their own strengths different from each other and so they commonly combined in order to achieve a far better vulnerability analysis. In that sense, it can be deduced that these two are quite different from each other as they perform two different jobs which normally ends in different results although they are is the same focus.

Most of the time, these two are used interchangeably for some reasons which confuses consumers and thus wastes their resources because they use the wrong tool for their needs. That being that case, it is best to look into these two’s differences and clarify the distinctions between these two so that confusion can be eliminated.

Vulnerability Assessment vs. Penetration Testing

Tools for vulnerability assessment are those that are used to discover the existing vulnerabilities. What makes it different is that it does not have the ability to differentiate between flaws which when exploited can cause damage and the flaws that cannot do so. Primarily, vulnerability tool only alert companies of the flaws that already exist within their code as well as where exactly they are located. In an in-depth vulnerability assessment, it indicates the application or system’s weakness and then provide mitigation procedures as well so that those weaknesses can be eliminated or at the very least eliminated to such a level of risk that is acceptable.

On the other hand, what penetration testing does is attempting to exploit the existing vulnerabilities in the system. This is so determine if there are malicious activities or perhaps unauthorized access can happen.  Penetration tests also works on identifying any flaws of the system that can pose threat to it. What happens during penetration testing is that the action of an external or internal hacker that aims to breach the application’s information security is simulated.

The penetration tester also known as ethical hacking uses various techniques and tools in attempting to exploit and gain access to sensitive data in the system. Due to this action, the system’s information security can be improved in such a way that the simulated actions cannot possible penetrate the system’s security.

Which approach would be best for your organization?

The answer to this question lies with your existing security posture. If you are confident with security posture, then just conducting a vulnerability assessment is enough. Essentially, vulnerability assessments give you the weaknesses of the application and tell you how to fix them. Penetration testing, on the other hand, tells you whether someone can break in your security posture and exactly what that can attain if they can break in. If you want to be completely assure of your organization’s security posture, then combining these two would be your best option.