Penetration Tests vs. Vulnerability Assessments
The terms “vulnerability assessments” and “penetration tests” are often incorrectly used interchangeably. While it is true that a penetration test requires a much greater level of skill to perform, it is not inherently “better” than a vulnerability scan. In reality, the best test for an organization will depend all on the end goal.
Vulnerability assessments utilize automated jobs to systematically scan networked devices for known vulnerabilities, typically compiled from CVE (common vulnerability and exposures) along with default/open credentials. Simple scripts can also be loaded to perform brute force password guessing attempts. The goal is to assess critical security risks and vulnerabilities and report findings.
Penetration tests are performed by highly skilled information security experts who emulate real-world tactics to determine whether or not a security posture could withstand a prolonged attack by a dedicated and skilled perpetrator. The goal is to leverage this assessment to correct critical security risks and vulnerabilities.