Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing: And Why You Need Both
Business organizations are often misinformed and are having a hard time distinguishing vulnerability assessment vs penetration testing. These two processes are closely-related, but have different purposes. In more frequent situations, company executives often ask for a penetration test when what they really need is a vulnerability assessment, vis a vis.
On average, vulnerability assessment costs can range between $2,000 – $2,500 depending on the number of IPs, servers, or applications scanned; while a penetration test would cost you around $15,000 to $70,000 Knowing the difference between these two would give you appropriate service for your money and help you make better decisions when it comes to your company’s cybersecurity. Let’s take a look at their distinctions.
What is Vulnerability Assessment?
Vulnerability assessment, also known as vulnerability scans, is a set of procedures that identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems and applications.
In the normal course, you are bound to have a range of weaknesses in your systems. Although it can be mitigated, this cannot be avoided altogether since you and your employees use your applications differently. Firewalls are likewise designed to leave certain ports open for your daily email and other internet-based services.
By conducting a vulnerability assessment, you will be able to identify potential threats and weaknesses on your system. This process is usually done by IT experts through manual testing. However, there are now automated vulnerability scanners (software) which might be perfect for your company set up.
What is a Penetration Test?
Penetration Test, also known as pentest, refers to a set of controlled procedures where an ethical hacker conducts an assessment on the target system to uncover vulnerabilities by exploiting them. In essence, it is a simulated attack on your network to test the efficacy of your implemented security features.
By doing a pentest, your business organization would have a first-hand experience on how a cyber criminal would infiltrate your system and gain access to your information. This can give you the advantage of pinpointing your system’s weak spots and effectively address them before they cause bigger problems.
Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing
If you are still confused about these two concepts, we’ll try to distinguish them by listing certain points of distinction:
Vulnerability assessment is best conducted on a quarterly basis, especially whenever an equipment is loaded or your network undergoes significant changes. On the other hand, a pentest may be done once or twice a year, as well as anytime the internet-facing equipment undergoes major changes.
While a vulnerability assessment provides a thorough baseline of what vulnerabilities exist in your system and how they change through time, a pentest will pinpoint to you what data has been comprised.
Vulnerability assessment focuses on listing down the know software vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Pentest, on the other hand, discovers exploitable weaknesses thereby using them to fortify your security.
4. Performed by
Both of these processes are generally conducted by IT experts. Vulnerability assessment is typically done by your designated employee with authenticated credentials as this does not require a high-skill level. In contrast, a pentest would require the expertise of independent cybersecurity professionals. For best practice, you need to collaborate with two or three pentest specialists when doing such.
Vulnerability assessment will give you the idea as to when an equipment could be compromised, while a pentest will help you identify and mitigate your system’s weaknesses.
It is best to have both
As we have compared and contrasted vulnerability assessment vs penetration testing, we need to know which of these two suits your needs. When you analyze their points of distinction, you would realize that having both is beneficial to your business. Generally. If your operations would require the use, collection, and disclosure of private data, as well as handling of extremely important confidential information, cybersecurity should be your top priority. Thus, having a sword and shield would undeniably ensure your system’s safety.
A penetration test can have a drastically higher price than a vulnerability assessment. It is in this consideration that you should always know when is the best time to avail which. As such, knowing the key difference between the two will help you make the right decision for your business; and when you do, you will be left with the kind of report you were looking for in the first place.
Also Read: How to Choose a Penetration Testing Vendor
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