In the world of IT, there are many common tests and audits that can be performed in order to evaluate your business’s cybersecurity and where it might be weak or lacking. Two of these tests are penetration testing and vulnerability testing.

Below, we will compare and contrast these tests in order to provide information on what test will best serve the auditing and information needs of your business.

Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is a method of evaluating computer and network security by simulating an attack from malicious hackers.

These tests simulate attacks by a malicious party to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the user’s data or resources. Penetration tests are usually performed by seasoned professionals who are well versed in the methodologies of cybercriminals.

The goal is to assess your company’s susceptibility to attack by safely attempting several methods of breaching security within its systems. This includes testing for weak passwords, vulnerable software, poor physical access controls, and more. Such tests may simulate social engineering tactics such as phishing emails, phishing with SMS messages or phone calls, and even more elaborate cybercrime tactics involving hacked third party servers.

Vulnerability Testing
The goal of vulnerability testing is to determine if there are exploitable weaknesses in an app or network, and to provide information about the nature of said weakness.

Tests are often performed remotely in order to provide the most secure environment possible. Vulnerability tests can be conducted on any part of an app’s infrastructure including its servers, sites, services, databases, internal networks, and third party software components. Tests involve performing automated scans for weaknesses in web apps, network infrastructure such as firewalls, and internal systems such as browsers.

The main purpose of these tests is to help users understand or recognize their vulnerabilities, not to actually exploit them. Such tests will identify possible weak spots within a system’s security infrastructure that can be mitigated by implementing solutions such as patches, upgrades, new workflows, etc.

Similarities Between Penetration Testing And Vulnerability Testing
Taking all of the above into consideration, there are some similarities between penetration testing and vulnerability testing. For example, both tests are performed with an eye toward determining risks so they can be mitigated.

There are many tools used in both penetration testing and vulnerability testing that were created specifically for these procedures, such as vulnerability scanners, vulnerability exploit tools, and penetration testing frameworks.

In addition to this, both penetration testing and vulnerability testing require extensive knowledge of security systems in order to ensure safe and accurate results. Both tests may be conducted remotely for a hands-off experience, but there are also methods involving an onsite team so that they can have a greater understanding of what is actually taking place within your business’s IT.

It should be noted that penetration testing and vulnerability testing are often mentioned in the same breath, so much so that people sometimes use them interchangeably. However, one key difference between penetration testing and vulnerability testing is that while penetration tests compromise security for a hands-off experience, vulnerability tests do not.

Why Is It Important To Conduct Penetration Testing And Vulnerability Testing?
It’s easy to think that if an attack hasn’t happened yet, one never will. However, statistics show this is not the case. The National Cyber Security Alliance reports that cyber attacks are occurring worldwide at a rate of once every 39 seconds.

If your business utilizes IT, like most businesses in the modern day and age, penetration and vulnerability testing are smart options to mitigate risks in your cybersecurity. If you would like to learn more about these tests and other cybersecurity practices, contact Tekscape, an MSP and team of cybersecurity experts, today!