Penetration Testing Vs. Vulnerability Scanning - What You Need to Know

Many people think that vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are the same things. Although their processes relate to each other, their purposes are different, and we should not confuse them by acknowledging them as identical processes.

What is Vulnerability Scanning?

We can define vulnerability scanning as the sum of automated tests that run through the organization's systems and applications to find defects and vulnerabilities.

You will, undoubtedly, have lots of weaknesses in your system not because of the changes you made during updates but due to the firewall vulnerabilities as it leaves some points for email and internet-based activities defects.

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Keeping this in mind, you need to conduct regular scanning to find and fix weaknesses. Many tools can help you in vulnerability scanning, and the tools run "if-then" scenarios that can help you in highlighting the system's setting or features that are susceptible to weaknesses.

A complete scan will provide you with a summary of alerts that needs the company's attention.

If your company processes the cardholder data, then you are required to do the scans quarterly. The same protocol is followed if there is a critical network change.

Who Can Do it?

The Vulnerability Scan must be done by a person who has no relation with the system or component which is being scanned.

The person shall be unbiased and is held responsible for setting up proper tools and performing the scans.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing is more thorough than vulnerability scanning as it is a controlled form of hacking.

Who Can Do it?

The tester who does the testing is known as an ethical hacker who works on behalf of the organization to find faults and defects the same way a criminal hacker does.

These tests are run not only to identify the weaknesses but also to identify how the vulnerabilities can be exploited.

This testing can give knowledge to the organization about the potential hacker, how he can penetrate the system, and what data he can have access to.

With this information, an organization can identify how good is their security system, and what are the areas which need attention.

Duration:

The requirements state that penetration testing should be done annually or after any significant change in the network.

Penetrating testing requires a lot of technical expertise, so it can only be done by a qualified professional.

In Short

Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing differ from each other based on the mechanics involved in testing, the technical expertise of the person who conducts these tests, the thoroughness of the process as well as the results-driven by both methods.

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