When it comes to security, your organization has a lot of options. You can choose to do a pen test, vulnerability assessment, or both. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the terms “pentest” and “vulnerability assessment.” Many people use them interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. So what’s the difference? Which practice is the best for your company?
In this blog post, we will discuss penetration testing vs vulnerability assessment, as well as factors to consider when choosing a pentest or vulnerability assessment provider. We will also list some of the top pentest and vulnerability assessment providers in the industry.
What Is A Pentest?
A pentest is a simulated attack on your system, conducted by ethical hackers. The purpose of a pentest is to find security vulnerabilities in your system before an attacker does.
Manual pentesting is conducted by actual human beings. This type of pentest is more thorough and time-consuming than automated testing, but it can also find more sophisticated attacks that automated tools may miss.
Automated pentesting is conducted with software programs that simulate attacks on your system. This type of pentesting is less time-consuming and expensive than manual testing, but it can only find basic attacks.
What Is A Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment is a system check for any potential security flaws. Vulnerability assessments can either be done manually or with automated testing tools. Actual people conduct manual vulnerability assessments. This style of analysis is more thorough and time-consuming than automated testing, but it may also discover more sophisticated threats that may be missed by automated tools.
However, automated vulnerability assessments are easier and less time-consuming in terms of the resources and manpower required to conduct and most companies prefer this instead.
Pentesting and Vulnerability Assessments- Differences Between Them
As you can see, there are a few significant distinctions between pentesting and vulnerability assessments. Ethical hackers perform a simulated assault on your computer in order to pentest. Ethical hacking works to find security vulnerabilities in your system before an attacker does. Vulnerability assessments are scans of your system to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Unlike a pentest, a vulnerability assessment does not include an attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities that are found.
Pentest vs Vulnerability Assessment- Which Is Right For My Organization?
When trying to determine whether a pentest or vulnerability assessment is right for your organization, there are several factors you need to consider. The size of your company, the degree of security you require, and your budget will all influence which service is suitable for you.
If you have a small organization with a limited budget, a vulnerability assessment may be the better option. However, if you’re concerned about sophisticated attacks, a pentest may be worth the extra cost.
There are a few factors you should consider when deciding between a pentest or vulnerability assessment provider as the right choice for your organization, such as:
- The size of your organization: If you have a small organization, you may not need as comprehensive of a test as a large organization.
- Your budget: Pentesting and vulnerability assessments can be expensive. The price of testing will depend on your budget.
- The level of security you need: If you’re concerned about sophisticated attacks, you’ll want to choose a provider that offers manual testing.
- Your time frame: Pentesting and vulnerability assessments can take a lot of time. If you need results quickly, you’ll want to choose a provider that offers automated testing.
Steps in Pentest And A Vulnerability Assessment?
The steps involved in a pentest or vulnerability assessment vary depending on the type of test that is being conducted.
Automated pentesting generally follows these steps:
- Reconnaissance: The first step in a manual pentest is reconnaissance. This entails gathering information on the target system such as network IP addresses, domain names, and operating systems.
- Scanning: Once the attacker has gathered information about the target system, they will scan the system for open ports and vulnerabilities.
- Exploitation: The next step is exploitation. This is where the attacker tries to exploit the vulnerabilities that they have found in order to gain access to the system.
- Post-Exploitation: The final step is post-exploitation. This is where the attacker consolidates their foothold on the system and attempts to gain further access or privileges.
Automated vulnerability scanning typically follows these steps:
- Scanning: The automated scanning tool scans the system for common vulnerabilities found in the vulnerability database.
- Reporting: The automated scanning tool creates a report of the findings, which is then given to the organization.
Vulnerability assessments can either be done manually or with automated testing tools. The steps involved in a manual vulnerability assessment are similar to those of a manual pentest, with the exception of the exploitation step. In a vulnerability assessment, the ethical hacker does not attempt to exploitation of security loopholes.
The steps involved in an automated vulnerability assessment are similar to those of an automated pentest. The automated testing tool scans the system for vulnerabilities and creates a report of the findings.
Top Pentest And Vulnerability Assessment Providers
Here are some of the top pentest and vulnerability assessment providers in the industry:
- Astra’s Pentest Suite
- RapidFire Tools
Pentesting and vulnerability assessments are both important tools for keeping your system secure. Various factors are to be taken into account before choosing the right practice. There are a few top pentest and vulnerability assessment providers in the industry that can help you choose the right option for your organization. If you’re searching for a security penetration tester or vulnerability assessment service, be sure to examine our list of the top providers in the business.
Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing “engineering in marketing” to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.