Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) are two types of vulnerability testing. The tests have different strengths and are often combined to achieve a more complete vulnerability analysis. In short, Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments perform two different tasks, usually with different results, within the same area of focus.
Vulnerability assessment tools discover which vulnerabilities are present, but they do not differentiate between flaws that can be exploited to cause damage and those that cannot. Vulnerability scanners alert companies to the preexisting flaws in their code and where they are located. Penetration tests attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities in a system to determine whether unauthorized access or other malicious activity is possible and identify which flaws pose a threat to the application. Penetration tests find exploitable flaws and measure the severity of each. A penetration test is meant to show how damaging a flaw could be in a real attack rather than find every flaw in a system. Together, penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tools provide a detailed picture of the flaws that exist in an application and the risks associated with those flaws.
Defined, a vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying and quantifying security vulnerabilities in an environment. It is an in-depth evaluation of your information security posture, indicating weaknesses as well as providing the appropriate mitigation procedures required to either eliminate those weaknesses or reduce them to an acceptable level of risk.
Vulnerability Assessments Follow These General Steps
A penetration test simulates the actions of an external and/or internal cyber attacker that aims to breach the information security of the organization. Using many tools and techniques, the penetration tester (ethical hacker) attempts to exploit critical systems and gain access to sensitive data.
Additional Penetration Testing Services & Types
Depending on the scope, a pen test can expand beyond the network to include social engineering attacks or physical security tests. Also, there are two primary types of pen tests: “white box”, which uses vulnerability assessment and other pre-disclosed information, and “black box”, which is performed with very little knowledge of the target systems and it is left to the tester to perform their own reconnaissance.
Penetration Testing Follow These General Steps