Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing
The simple to guide to Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing. The penetration testing services test the security of your information systems, by identifying and exploiting weaknesses. A security penetration tester test and analyze the organization from the perspective of its most likely threats, examine business processes, information flows and the technology that supports the business operations. This allows them to determine the resilience of company environment to malicious attempts to penetrate their systems.
Penetration Testing Methodology and Tools
A penetration testing team has a documented, tried and tested, penetration testing methodology based on industry best practices such as the OSSTMM (Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual) and the PTES (Penetration Testing Execution Standard). This ensures that you receive reliable, repeatable results, and minimizes the risk to your systems under test.
They use an arsenal of penetration testing tools similar to those used by attackers on the internet – in conjunction with in-house developed, commercial, and best-of-breed open-source penetration tools. Keeping up to date with the latest security vulnerabilities, trends, and hacking techniques is our business.
They produce a comprehensive business risk-focused penetration testing report covering the approach taken, the techniques used, and the vulnerabilities identified. Then apply their expertise to make prioritized procedural and strategic recommendations to ensure that your systems are secure against future attack.
Vulnerability Assessment vs Penetration Testing
Vulnerability assessments use testing tools (vulnerability scanners) to identify security vulnerabilities in a system or environment. While they highlight the technical threat, they do not qualify the business threat nor do they assess common attack methods. Thus, the major distinction between a vulnerability assessment and a penetration test (sometimes referred to as Ethical Hacking) is that the vulnerability assessment does not actively exploit the identified problems to determine the full exposure or validate its existence which can lead to inaccuracies in the report (false positives).
Unfortunately, many organizations claiming to perform penetration tests actually “oversell” their services and just provide vulnerability assessments using scanning tools. Although the initial cost may be less, attack scenarios can be overlooked which can lead to a later security breach. The sense of Security does not engage in these practices, and all identified security issues are reported with step by step instructions and screenshots on how to replicate the exploitable condition. Demonstrating the real risk visually provides value to management who may be unable to grasp some of the complex technical concepts involved in this line of work, and highlights the urgency in fixing some issues.
Types of Penetration Testing
Our pen testers can perform a range of assessments that simulate attack testing scenarios from individuals with varying degrees of knowledge and access to your systems including:
- External penetration test – casual or focused intruders on the Internet with limited knowledge
- Internal penetration test – disgruntled or careless employees or contractors with legitimate access to the corporate network
- Extranet penetration test – business partners who are part of the corporate Extranet
- Remote access penetration test – casual or focused intruders from known and unknown remote access entry points
- Mobile application penetration test – assessment of mobile devices, applications and MDM solutions
- Social engineering test – test the human factor using techniques such as tailgating, pretexting, phishing and baiting
- Physical penetration test – test physical security using real-world intrusion techniques
- Red teaming– emulating a motivated attacker that will use any means possible to obtain access to your systems and data. It is a hybrid approach using many/all of the above methods.
Penetration Testing as Part of Corporate Governance
Penetration tests are a requirement for meeting regulations such as PCI DSS, ISM, SOX, and HIPAA. It is also defined in industry standards such as ISO 17799 and ISO 27001 as important security tests an organization should regularly undertake.
Key Penetration Testing Technology Focus Areas
Traditional penetration testing disciplines include:
- Network penetration testing (infrastructure penetration testing), e.g. router, switch, firewall, etc.
- Server penetration testing, e.g. operating system, application, etc.
Advanced penetration testing service disciplines include, but are not limited to:
- Application penetration testing (including web applications, web services, mobile applications, thick-client applications, etc.)
- Human factor penetration testing (social engineering)
- Red teaming
- Physical security (physical penetration testing)
- SAP Security
- Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS)
- PBX / PABX including VoIP
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Remote access solutions e.g. Citrix, Terminal Services, IPSEC VPN, SSL VPN, etc.
- BlackBerry Enterprise Server
- Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
- Mobility solutions
- Black box
Vulnerability Management and Protection
The penetration testing service providers provide a one-off assessment, or on an ongoing basis. You can leverage our security expertise to provide you with automated, continuous, cost-effective, vulnerability management protection where they work with you to develop a recurring vulnerability assessment program for different segments of your environment. With a recurring program, They can highlight current exposures in a timely fashion, and provide you with trending data that allows you to monitor the progress of your IT security initiatives over time. Vulnerability assessment vs penetration testing guide.
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