Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Assessment

Use Netsparker


There seems to be a certain amount of confusion within the security industry about the difference between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment, they are often classified as the same thing when in fact they are not.

I know Penetration Testing sounds a lot more exciting, but most people actually want a VA not a pentest, many projects are labelled as pen tests when in fact they are 100% VA.

A Penetration Test mainly consists of a VA, but it goes one step further..

A penetration test is a method of evaluating the security of a computer system or network by simulating an attack by a malicious hacker. The process involves an active analysis of the system for any weaknesses, technical flaws or vulnerabilities. This analysis is carried out from the position of a potential attacker, and can involve active exploitation of security vulnerabilities. Any security issues that are found will be presented to the system owner together with an assessment of their impact and often with a proposal for mitigation or a technical solution.

A vulnerability assesment is what most companies generally do, as the systems they are testing are live production systems and can’t afford to be disrupted by active exploits which might crash the system.


Vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying and quantifying vulnerabilities in a system. The system being studied could be a physical facility like a nuclear power plant, a computer system, or a larger system (for example the communications infrastructure or water infrastructure of a region).

Vulnerability assessment has many things in common with risk assessment. Assessments are
typically performed according to the following steps:

1. Cataloging assets and capabilities (resources) in a system
2. Assigning quantifiable value and importance to the resources
3. Identifying the vulnerabilities or potential threats to each resource
4. Mitigating or eliminating the most serious vulnerabilities for the most valuable resources

This is generally what a security company is contracted to do, from a technical perspective, not to actually penetrate the systems, but to assess and document the possible vulnerabilities and recommend mitigation measures and improvements.

Sources: Wikipedia

Digg This Article

Posted in: Hacking News

, , , , ,


Latest Posts:


Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner For Linux Now Available Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner For Linux Now Available
Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner For Linux is now available, now you get all of the functionality of Acunetix, with all of the dependability of Linux.
Gerix WiFi Cracker - Wireless 802.11 Hacking Tool With GUI Gerix WiFi Cracker – Wireless 802.11 Hacking Tool With GUI
Gerix WiFi cracker is an easy to use Wireless 802.11 Hacking Tool with a GUI, it was originally made to run on BackTrack and this version has been updated for Kali (2018.1).
Malcom - Malware Communication Analyzer Malcom – Malware Communication Analyzer
Malcom is a Malware Communication Analyzer designed to analyze a system's network communication using graphical representations of network traffic.
WepAttack - WLAN 802.11 WEP Key Hacking Tool WepAttack – WLAN 802.11 WEP Key Hacking Tool
WepAttack is a WLAN open source Linux WEP key hacking tool for breaking 802.11 WEP keys using a wordlist based dictionary attack.
Eraser - Windows Secure Erase Hard Drive Wiper Eraser – Windows Secure Erase Hard Drive Wiper
Eraser is a hard drive wiper for Windows which allows you to run a secure erase and completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns.
Insecure software versions are a problem Web Security Stats Show XSS & Outdated Software Are Major Problems
Netsparker just published some anonymized Web Security Stats about the security vulnerabilities their online solution identified on their users’ web applications and web services during the last 3 years.


3 Responses to Penetration Testing vs Vulnerability Assessment

  1. P.VENKATA RAMANAN November 21, 2006 at 10:23 am #

    This article gives broad difference between penetration test and vulnerability assessment. This was usefull for me since i am attending CISM 2006 exam on 9th dec 2006.
    Thank you

  2. saravanakumar January 18, 2007 at 1:24 pm #

    i need documents from vulnerabality and penetration

  3. Ganesh September 14, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Hi

    This is very sweet and simple discription to understand VA and PT