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Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Scanning: What’s The Difference?

Updated: Feb 23

Table of Contents

  • What is Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning?

  • The Difference Between Penetration Testing & Vulnerability Scanning

  • Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Scanning - What To Choose?

  • Key Takeaways

  • Conclusion

  • FAQs


The difference between penetration testing and vulnerability scans
Learn about the difference between penetration testing and vulnerability scans

What is Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning?

In the cybersecurity domain, many often get confused between penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. Actually, both these are ways of identifying vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure and are both very important.


It is important for businesses of all sizes to analyze the security of their IT infrastructure. Your security posture might be strong in one area. But what if it lacks that robust security in some other aspect? Considering the recent cyberattacks, your business could be at risk.


In this blog post, we will be seeing the differences in these two ways of assessing vulnerabilities. Why is this important you may ask? Knowing the difference between the two services will help you understand which one will work for your business. Business owners end up purchasing one when they really need the other.


The Difference Between Penetration Testing & Vulnerability Scanning

A vulnerability scan is a security assessment that looks for potential weaknesses in computers, systems, and networks. Vulnerability scans can be thought of as a checkup for your systems- they look for known vulnerabilities and potential exposures and can give you an idea of what could be exploited.


On the other hand, penetration tests are designed to exploit weaknesses in your IT network's architecture. This is done in order to determine how easily a malicious attacker could gain unauthorized access to your assets.


We have already published an in-depth guide on what penetration testing is, its types and why is it required. So check that out by clicking here.


Vulnerability scans are typically automated, while penetration tests are manual and carried out by a security professional.


Penetration testing always requires the use of tools - and sometimes, a lot of tools. But it's not just about the tools; it's also about the person conducting the test. They need to be experienced. A good penetration tester will always, at some point during their testing, craft a script, change the parameters of an attack, or tweak settings on the tools they're using.


Business-wide vulnerability scanning necessitates the use of automated methods to handle a large number of assets. Its scope is larger than that of penetration testing.


To use the vulnerability scanning product efficiently, product-specific knowledge is required. Administrators or security personnel who are knowledgeable in networking typically run it.


There are times when you need to hire an IT professional to perform Penetration Testing on your organization and there are times when you need to hire an IT professional to perform Vulnerability Scanning on your organization.


Both of these vulnerability scans work to uncover potential threats in your business IT infrastructure, but they are used to do so in different ways.


Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Scanning - What To Choose?

There is no easy answer when it comes to deciding whether a vulnerability scan or penetration test is better for your business. Both tests have their own advantages and drawbacks.


Vulnerability scans provide regular insight into your network security, while penetration tests are a more thorough way to examine your security. However, penetration tests are expensive. You are paying a professional to examine every possible way that your network could be compromised.


Ultimately, the decision comes down to what your business can afford and what level of security you need.


Key Takeaways

  • The term vulnerability scanning is often used as a synonym for penetration testing. But while both are important, they are different.

  • Penetration testing is a hands-on test that is performed by an ethical hacker who attempts to locate vulnerabilities in the network. This is done in order to determine how easily a malicious attacker could gain unauthorized access to your assets.

  • The security professional who tries to gain unauthorized access to the network determines how easy it is to breach the security.

  • A vulnerability scan is a security assessment that looks for potential weaknesses in computers, systems, and networks. Vulnerability scans are automated. The software will test the network to find any vulnerabilities.

  • The choice between the two depends upon the need for cybersecurity in your business and the amount of money you are able to invest in the same. But the endpoint is that both the tools are equally important to maintain security.


FAQs


Q. How frequently should you run a vulnerability scan?

To stay one step ahead of these unpleasant shocks, our advice for good cyber hygiene for most firms is to utilize a vulnerability scanner on your externally facing infrastructure at least once a month.


Q. How much time does a vulnerability assessment take?

Depending on the number of IPs, a vulnerability scan will take 20–60 minutes to complete, whereas web scans could take 2–4 hours. An internal security team or a network administrator can automate and manage scans.


Q. How can we confirm that vulnerabilities have been fixed?

A number of techniques, including internal or external independent verification testing, can be used to confirm that vulnerabilities have been fixed. However, the majority seek independent validation and should have a remediation verification test carried out. Some organizations prefer to track remediation in-house and have the means to independently validate successful repair.


Q. How should we prepare for a test?

In terms of how security measures are handled on a daily basis, there is typically no need for particular preparation for a penetration test. Always keep in mind that a penetration test is a snapshot analysis of the environment. The test will evaluate the security posture at that specific time.


Conclusion

Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are two tools used to assess the security of an IT infrastructure. These tools are both very important.


Penetration testing is a hands-on test that is performed by an ethical hacker who attempts to locate vulnerabilities in the network. There are many methods for performing a penetration test. The ethical hacker uses these methods to try to break into the network.


Vulnerability scanning is automated. The software will test the network to find any vulnerabilities. This is useful for businesses that want to test their network but do not want to pay for a penetration test which is comparatively more expensive.


If you have any questions about penetration testing or vulnerability scanning, please feel free to contact us anytime at +1844 We iBovi or email us at us@ibovi.com. Our cybersecurity experts are here to answer all of your questions.


Thanks for stopping by and reading this blog. We enjoyed writing it and hope it was helpful for you. If you would like to read more such content about the cybersecurity industry, including news, business tips, and expert insights, subscribe to our email list! Our cybersecurity enthusiasts create engaging content that you can get straight to your inbox!



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