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The Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test Debate

The Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test Debate

Experts have divided view on what the term Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing stands for, some believe an in-depth Penetration Testing involves identifying all the possible vulnerabilities, while others believe Penetration Test is a goal-oriented process and is purely focused on solving the identified problem. The majority of the experts believe in the latter and the below discussion will help us understand why rightly so.

Going by the simple understanding of language a security test is one which helps to compile a total list of all vulnerabilities and this security test is called Vulnerability Assessment. On the other hand, penetration testing is distinctively different and more like the next step in the chain and focused on targeting the identified vulnerability. This may be one understanding of one look at the subject. However, a very common mistake in vulnerability assessment vs. penetration tests is to reach a decision on how the two are different based on limited understanding, one of which is to find vulnerability is a vulnerability assessment and to test the vulnerability of identified area is a penetration test. Which is not the best way to look at this?

Penetration tests are more focused on showing the problem i.e. showing how an attacker can access your database of customer data rather than just saying your customer database is a threat. When professionals show the problem to the client rather than just telling them about it, the burden of explaining how dangerous the problem is reduced.

It is also incorrect to say that penetration tests always include a vulnerability assessment. Going back to the most common view penetration tests are goal-based, so the success of the penetration test is dependent on if the goal is achieved. So to achieve that goal, it is important to find a vulnerable area to work on during penetration tests.

The aptest statement to make is penetration tests rely largely on finding areas professionals can take advantage of during penetration testing. Professionals usually stop once they identify a few vulnerable areas. However, what consists of a vulnerability assessment is providing the client with a complete and prioritized list of vulnerabilities which is a broader exercise.

So in the end to put it in simple words “Penetration Tests are about showing the client if you can get attacked in this is the value you would end up losing. On the other hand, a Vulnerability Assessment is about telling the client these are all the different areas vulnerable to attacks”. Stay Safe from all such attacks and stay a step ahead; get in touch with our experts today.

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