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Penetration Test VS Vulnerability Assessment

What’s the difference between a penetration test and a vulnerability assessment and which one is right for your organisation?

Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments often get confused as the same service. But don’t be fooled, these two cyber security services are not the same and have different objectives and goals within the cyber security sphere. Our Client Director, Tom Robbins helps clients understand the difference between the two by explaining that, “a vulnerability assessment is showing what holes are available, a pen test is going through the holes”.

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Cyber attack

What is a Penetration Test?

A penetration test is a service that simulates the actions of a real life cyber attack on your systems or services. The aim of a penetration test is to breach the security of your organisation using tools and techniques that a real hacker would use if they were to try and breach your organisation.

There are a variety of penetration tests you can undertake, depending on business requirements. Common tests include:

Infrastructure penetration testing

Through an in-depth analysis of your infrastructure, our team of highly qualified security experts determine the security of your networks and infrastructure, looking at both design and how existing controls may be bypassed – this analysis explores both internal and external networks.

In conducting the penetration tests in the same way that an attacker would, our trained consultants provide a holistic and overarching view of your business’s security posture, allowing you to proactively manage any identified weaknesses, correct any misconfigurations and proactively prevent potential threats.

Application penetration testing

Due to the public nature of websites, online applications are fast becoming one of the biggest risks to a modern business. Our qualified specialists will offset these dangers through comprehensive testing of web, mobile and internal applications, in order to discover whether your website or business applications are missing the secure configurations they need, to protect against potential data breaches.

Cloud Security penetration testing

Cloud services require testing in order to determine whether there are any existing security holes that could lead to exposure and theft of sensitive data.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising in cloud technology, our specialists will utilise their wealth of knowledge to provide you with holistic insight into your vulnerabilities, and to discover any potential loopholes that could result in debilitating breaches to your business.

Key benefits of a Penetration Test for your organisation
  • Identify and prioritise risks
  • Avoid costly data breaches
  • Comply with industry regulations
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What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

A security vulnerability assessment is the process of defining, identifying, classifying and prioritising vulnerabilities in computer systems, applications and network infrastructures.

There are a variety of assessments you can undertake, depending on business requirements. Common assessments include:

Host assessment

The assessment of critical servers, which may be vulnerable to attacks if not adequately tested or not generated from a tested machine image.

Network and wireless assessment

The assessment of policies and practices to prevent unauthorized access to private or public networks and network-accessible resources.

Database assessment

The assessment of databases or big data systems for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, identifying rogue databases or insecure dev/test environments, and classifying sensitive data across an organisation’s infrastructure.

Application scans

The identifying of security vulnerabilities in web applications and their source code by automated scans on the front-end or static/dynamic analysis of source code.

These types of security assessments will provide organisations with the necessary knowledge, awareness, and risk context to understand the threats to the business and how to mitigate the risks appropriately.

Key Benefits of a Vulnerability Assessment for your organisation
  • Efficient and effective risk remediation
  • Understand your immediate threats
  • A low-cost solution for long term gain
  • Maintain your certifications
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Key Takeaways

Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are both critical to an organisation’s comprehensive security strategy. They are powerful tools to help monitor and improve an organisation’s network environment.

Interested in cyber security and the measures your organisation can put in place to protect itself? Read our “Cyber Resilience: Keeping your Castle Safe” blog to find out more.

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