There are many security testing services available today, but it can be difficult to know which one is best for your organization. Security testing is a crucial part of any digital protection strategy.
Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are two different methods of ensuring the security of digital properties and applications. The differences between these two services may seem slight at first glance, but the implications for an organization’s security are quite significant.
Read on to learn more about penetration testing vs. vulnerability scanning so you can make an informed decision about which service is right for your business.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is a digital security testing method that is used to simulate a real-life attack on an organization’s digital assets and systems.
In other words, penetration testing is the act of hacking into a system in order to test the organization’s cybersecurity.
The main idea of penetration testing is to identify potential security flaws in an organization’s digital assets and systems.
These flaws can then be corrected, preventing malicious actors from taking advantage of the same vulnerabilities. Penetration testing is often used as part of a risk assessment, but it can also be used to test the effectiveness of a security breach incident response plan. It is important to note that penetration testing can be legally risky in some countries, depending on the methodologies used.
What is Vulnerability Scanning?
Vulnerability scanning is a digital security testing method that analyzes an organization’s digital assets and systems looking for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors.
In other words, vulnerability scanning is a proactive method of testing the security of an organization’s systems and digital assets.
Vulnerability scanning generally involves the use of automated tools aimed at finding the same flaws that would be found during a penetration test.
These tools are commonly referred to as “vulnerability scanners,” and they are used to analyze an organization’s digital assets and systems for things like outdated software, misconfigured or unsecured servers, etc. Since vulnerability scanning is a proactive testing method, it can be done on a regular basis as part of an organization’s digital security assurance strategy.
Why Perform Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is the best way to identify if an organization’s cybersecurity is actually working the way it should be.
By simulating a real-life attack scenario, penetration testing allows you to see if your cybersecurity would actually stop an attack.
In most cases, penetration testing will reveal security flaws in an organization’s cybersecurity. Patching these vulnerabilities is crucial to the success of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
Penetration testing can be used to identify exactly what vulnerabilities exist, making it much easier to patch them.
It is important to note that penetration testing should only be performed by a third-party organization that is independent of the organization itself. This way, the penetration testing team can be sure to simulate an actual attack without being biased as to what to look for.
Why Perform Vulnerability Scanning?
Vulnerability scanning is the best way to determine if there are currently any vulnerabilities in an organization’s digital assets and systems. By scanning digital systems and assets, an organization can receive an overview of any security flaws that could be exploited by malicious actors.
Vulnerability scanning can be performed on a regular basis to ensure that any issues identified by the scan are corrected as soon as possible. Vulnerability scanning is most commonly performed using automated vulnerability scanning tools. Not only are these tools easy to use, but they also provide an easy-to-read report that details what vulnerabilities were discovered.
How to Tell the Difference Between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning?
Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are both crucial methods of ensuring the security of an organization’s digital assets and systems.
While penetration testing is the best way to determine if your cybersecurity actually works and vulnerability scanning is the best way to discover if there are any vulnerabilities in your system, both methods are important ways to test your security.
Penetration testing can be used to identify current and potential vulnerabilities in an organization’s cybersecurity, while vulnerability scanning can be used to identify current vulnerabilities in an organization’s digital systems.
The main difference between the two methods is that penetration testing is used to test your cybersecurity and find vulnerabilities, while vulnerability scanning is used to discover if there are any vulnerabilities in your system right now.
Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Scanning: Key Differences
Penetration testing is the more in-depth of the two security assessment types and is considered a “white hat” hacker attack against a system to find unknown vulnerabilities with the goal of exploiting them. Vulnerability scanning on the other hand uses automated tools to scan systems for known threats and issues.
It should be noted that while vulnerability scanners are very good at finding certain types of vulnerabilities, they often do not identify all possible exploits that may exist on a scanned system. Penetration testers use manual methods (e.g., using exploit code) to try and exploit any vulnerabilities identified during their testing process.
The main difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing is their purpose: one seeks to discover vulnerabilities by running tools against a target system, application, or network while another attempts to actually exploit those weaknesses using various tactics such as social engineering (e.g., phishing emails).
While the two testing methods are similar, they are also very different. Penetration testing simulates a real-life attack, while vulnerability scanning is a proactive method of finding vulnerabilities in systems and digital assets.
By understanding the basic differences between penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, you can better understand which testing method is best for your organization.