What Is the Difference Between a Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing?

Difference between Vulnerability Assessments and Pen testing Image november1

You may have heard of penetration tests and vulnerability assessments, but what are they? Are these two things different? Yes, they are. Let’s examine vulnerability assessments vs. penetration tests and determine how each of them improves your IT network’s cyber security measures.

What is Vulnerability Testing?

Vulnerability assessments, also known as vulnerability testing or vulnerability scanning, are assessments that your managed service provider’s (MSP) security team performs on your network. These assessments show where your network’s vulnerabilities lie. When your network receives a vulnerability test or scan, the scan examines firewalls, applications, servers, and routers, among other components. These scans require automated tools and examine business-wide security measures. Once your MSP’s security professionals perform a vulnerability scan, you can work with them to reduce or eliminate vulnerabilities throughout your network.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration tests are similar to vulnerability scans because they also reveal your network’s security weaknesses. However, penetration tests actively exploit the vulnerabilities in your network, while vulnerability scans expose them more passively. Penetration testing tools always have a human element to them, while vulnerability scans are automated. Ultimately, vulnerability scans and penetration tests perform similar tasks, but vulnerability scans only look for weaknesses while pen tests actively show how they affect your network.

Pen Test vs. Vulnerability Test: Which Does Your Network Need?

Your network needs penetration tests and vulnerability assessments to keep it safe. Vulnerability tests run automated scans of your business’s entire network. Penetration tests have a smaller scope, and they test specific security functions to see how well they work. Vulnerability scans look for the holes in your network. Pen tests show you what it looks like when hackers and other cyber threats take advantage of those weaknesses to gain network access. When you have your MSP perform both of these tests, you gain a clearer, fuller picture of how your network cyber security measures operate.

Reach out to us today to schedule vulnerability and penetration testing for your business IT network.

What Do Vulnerability Scans Look For and Identify?

Vulnerability scans identify weaknesses within an IT network’s security, such as missing security updates and patches. The scans’ automated tools show you where certain security measures should be so you can resolve those network vulnerabilities. For example, your MSP can run vulnerability scans that identify whether you meet certain compliance requirements. Once you know what your compliance status is, you can improve it if necessary or maintain it. A vulnerability test looks for and identifies the places in your network where you can improve security measures and functions.

How Do Penetration Tests Work?

Human penetration testers perform pen tests, and they create a script for the security measures they want to test and exploit. Often, pen testers try to exploit weaknesses in your network’s most potentially vulnerable or critically important systems. However, they can also test your employees for human IT errors, such as falling for social engineering scams. They can send your workforce simulated phishing emails and monitor how many employees open them. This type of penetration test shows how prepared your workforce is to look for and combat cyber threats that take advantage of human error. Pen tests work by exploiting vulnerabilities in your network to show how a cyber attack can harm your IT infrastructure. Then you can take precautions to prevent cyber threats from exploiting those security weaknesses.

Why Put Your Cyber Security Measures to the Test?

Why should you test your cyber security measures at all? You have them in place, so they should be able to prevent any cyber threat that appears, right? Wrong. If you don’t put your cyber security measures to the test, you’ll never know how well they work. Pen tests push specific systems and functions to their limits with human ingenuity, while vulnerability scans show you how your business-wide security measures respond to automated threats. When you examine your network with vulnerability assessments and penetration tests, you find out how comprehensive your cyber security protections really are.

Test and Protect Your Network With the Millennium Group

If you want to protect your network, reach out to The Millennium Group to access our vulnerability and penetration testing services. You can also protect your network with our managed network security and threat remediation services. Trust us to help you protect your IT network at all times.