The two terms often cause confusion to many people. Each of the practice is critical in ensuring the security of the systems. The two processes are requirements or recommendations required by bodies such as PCI DSS and ISO 27001. Pen testing is mainly used in identifying the security threats within the architecture of systems and network infrastructure. On the other hand, vulnerability scanning involves checking for identified vulnerabilities and also provides a report on the risks that the system is exposed to. Both concepts revolve around factors such as the scope, risks involved, and the cost.
Definition of Penetration Testing
Unlike vulnerability scanning, it involves a human factor. Some people claim that there is automated penetration testing but that is wrong. The process involves some tools and the number of tools used depends on the nature of the testing. It requires the skills of experienced professionals to give good results. In most cases, the pen tester develops a script and uses a variety of parameters of a security threat to evaluate the effectiveness of the process. The cost of the penetration testing depends on the number of applications and the size of the infrastructure. Therefore, most firms prefer performing the test on just a few of their applications at a time.
The scope of the penetration testing mainly depends on the risks posed to an asset and its importance to the organization. Organizations are always willing to spend significant amount of money for high-risk assets. The experts that will undertake the process usually charge the fee depending on the number of hours worked. The testers may decide to exploit a certain vulnerability that is not common among many businesses and this process can take days or weeks. To avoid spending too much money on the testing, most firms conduct the process annually and produce a report which is usually a short description of the security situation of the systems.
The Aspect of Vulnerability Scanning
It involves identifying potential security risks in devices such as routers, switches, and applications. In most cases, it is an automated process that checks for any threats to the networks or applications. In cases where the tools are not automated, the process may take long. Unlike penetration testing, it does not involve the exploitation of the weak points of the applications. It involves a wider scope as compared to penetration testing. Experienced testers who ate knowledgeable in networking are used in the process. The cost of the scanning is relatively lower than that for penetration testing. For Vulnerability scanning, the main aim is to detect any threat rather than prevention.
Some experts recommended people to refer to the Center for Internet Security to understand the key differences between penetration testing and vulnerability scanning. CIS has a list of some of the best security controls that are widely used in the management of cybersecurity threats. The body recommends various firms to regularly check for any security threats to their systems and seek solutions for them. The above practices should be taken seriously by all firms.