Vulnerability Scanning Vs Penetration Testing- What Is The Difference?

Table of Contents hide 1 Vulnerability Scanning- Explaining 2 Who Can Carry Out Vulnerability Scanning? Let’s Know More 3 How Often Should...

Written by Niel Patel · 5 min read >
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Security breaches are one of the most common causes for big enterprises to face losses in their annual revenues. In the past few years, the number of cyber-attacks has increased on organizations. So, all businesses must come up with solutions to prevent themselves from any potential loss. And two of these solutions are scanning and penetration testing. This guide will focus on these two services and try to cover as much information on the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing differences. So, let’s get you started. 

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Vulnerability Scanning- Explaining

Hackers take advantage of the vulnerabilities of your network and apps. Then, they use those loopholes to create an easy way in and out of your entire system. 

As the name specifies, vulnerability scanning identifies the potential points in your system so that your business can resolve them before a hector or any other cybercriminals can benefit. The process uses various scanning tools through an automated process

The vulnerabilities can include the following: 

  • Coding errors.
  • Packet anomalies.
  • Configuration errors.
  • Accessible routes cybercriminals take to compromise sensitive data.

Data and information about any possible loopholes are included in database regularity to remove these flaws from the security more effectively.

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Who Can Carry Out Vulnerability Scanning? Let’s Know More

Vulnerability scanning is frequently carried out by many organizations’ IT departments or outside cyber-security experts. The IT team can set its own goal to identify the vulnerabilities that can pose a severe risk to your organization. Not only does it help the team to identify known vulnerabilities, but it also classifies them according to severity. Leaving the vulnerabilities in the system can lead to severe financial and personal losses, but thanks to vulnerability scanning. It can solve most of the problems that organizations face daily. 

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How Often Should An Organization Do The Vulnerability Scanning? 

It’s essential to perform vulnerability scanning regularly. At least once per year, a complete network vulnerability scan should be performed. It is effective and efficient to scan for vulnerabilities. While vulnerability scanning has a lot of benefits, it also has some drawbacks. So the IT teams also need to focus on fighting for cyber security as the cybercriminals can use the same scanning tools you use to find vulnerabilities and find weak points to exploit the business network. They can use these flaws to their advantage. Instead, they are looking for fresh vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities that have just been identified for the first time are referred to as zero days. So, if the scan is performed sparingly, that means the organizations may find themselves at the mercy of cybercriminals because of patches for these vulnerabilities. Many businesses also include penetration testing in their cyber-security plans.

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Vulnerability Scan vs Vulnerability Assessment

To understand the vulnerability scan vs vulnerability assessment, you must know that these two terms are different. A vulnerability scan accounts for a small portion of the vulnerability assessment. Typically, to do the vulnerability scan, the testers first install a customized or dedicated tool on your system, which can be reasonably priced. Vulnerability assessments are more the oral examinations of the entire system.

Penetration Testing- Explained

Penetration Testing
Penetration Testing

Unlike vulnerability scanning, penetration testing focuses on locating and compromising vulnerable systems in the environment. Whether internal or external experts, penetration testers adopt the mindset and strategies of hackers. Actually, they have to because they want to minimize the process. They can use various different procedures to perform penetration testing, and one of the most common is the interrogation method. The interrogation method is also crucial regarding vulnerability scanning vs penetration testing. The penetration testing goes a little beyond the surface; it has hard vulnerabilities rather than just those that are well-known, so it goes beyond vulnerability scanning.

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Who Can Carry Out The Penetration Testing? Let’s Know More About It 

Just like vulnerability testing, the penetration tester’s goal is to catch the cybercriminals who have passed your organization’s defense. A threat actor could get past your defenses. This information was provided through the testing. It gives your organization crucial awareness that enables you to fortify your systems and guarantee that you can increase the resilience of your security posture.

What Is The Process Involved In The Penetration Testing? 

The following stages typically make up a penetration testing engagement:

  1. Thinking carefully about the goals you hope to achieve is the first step. Then know that the scope is crucial. Every time you release new functionality for an existing application or launch a new web or mobile application, you should conduct an application penetration test.
  2. The next thing in line is conducting external network penetration testing to assess the effectiveness of your organization’s perimeter defenses. Web services penetration testing becomes essential because web services, like APIs, are used more frequently to link various systems and make data transfers easier. Even your wireless Wi-Fi router can be at potential risk. Through wireless network penetration testing, you can ensure unauthorized users aren’t accessing your network via infected Wi-Fi routers. 
  3. It also determines whether the penetration testers should access the system as authenticated users or as unauthorized ones. Providing the systems access to long and password if the process is going to be authorized is a crucial decision.
  4. You must also choose whether to conduct Black-Box penetration testing, in which the testers do need to know much about the system’s architecture or source code. This strategy mimics the exact method that hackers use to dup users. In contrast, White-Box Penetration Testing requires the testers to have in the spent knowledge of the system. The strategy benefits the testers to find potential weak spots over the source code. Grey-Box Penetration Testing is another method where the testers access the systems with some knowledge, for instance, as a privileged user.
Black Box Blockchain Automation Testing
Black Box Blockchain Automation Testing

How do Testers Begin With Penetration Testing?

The testers gather crucial data about the systems they will test in this step to identify potential weak points. The penetration testers will search for open-source intelligence to find vulnerabilities and potential entry points. But they go through the determining threat modeling process to search for open intelligence. Once analyzing the threat modeling process, the testers begin their examination of the systems, as specified in the scope, armed with a map of potential vulnerabilities and entry points. 


The testers can go beyond the surface to find the potential risks in your security. Additionally, they will try their best to prevent any damage, data loss, or business interruption. Testers will fully inform you of developments at every stage of the interrogation process. They will inform you of serious vulnerabilities discovered so immediate action can be taken to reduce the risk.

Vulnerability Assessment And Penetration Testing Difference

Here are some vulnerability assessment and penetration testing differences to learn more about these services. 

#1: The vulnerability coverage, specifically the breadth and depth, makes up for the primary distinction between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. The goal of vulnerability assessment can identify as many security flaws as possible following the breadth-to-depth approach. To keep a network secure, the testers should use it frequently, especially during network changes. The network changes can include new equipment installation, new services added, or even if the ports open. Additionally, it will work for organizations that want to know about all potential security flaws that can give cybercriminals a possible passway to step into your organizational system. On the other side, when the organizations already have robust defense systems, and they want to make sure that their systems stay hacker-pro, they use penetration testing. 

When a client claims that their network security defenses work well but wants to make sure they can stay hacker-proof, penetration testing becomes a preferable option over the depth-over-breadth approach.

#2: The level of automation is a further distinction related to the first. Penetration testing combines manual and automated techniques, which helps to delve deeper into the weakness. Vulnerability assessment is typically automated, allowing for wider vulnerability coverage.

#3: The third distinction in both techniques is the professionals chosen to carry out the two security assurance techniques. The members of your security department can carry out automated testing used in vulnerability assessment because it doesn’t call for a high level of expertise. However, some vulnerabilities that the company’s security staff can’t deal with add to the reports. A third-party vulnerability assessment vendor may help as it becomes cheaper. Also, it is labor-intensive and requires a much higher level of expertise. You can outsource the penetration testing to a provider of penetration testing services.

Application Vulnerability Assessment Vs Penetration Testing-Benefits 

Here are the benefits that a business can receive in application vulnerability assessment vs penetration testing. Let’s look at the benefits of both services.

Vulnerability Scanning is efficient and effective. But, simultaneously, it only allows testers to detect known vulnerabilities. On the other hand, penetration testing is manual in nature, allowing testers to use their skills and knowledge to uncover hidden vulnerabilities. Evolve automated penetration testing breaks the limits of traditional vulnerability assessment and penetration testing of web applications and provides the best of both worlds.

It allows you to go beyond simple vulnerability scanning by automating many of the activities traditionally undertaken by penetration testers. With the help of evolved automated penetration testing, your company can maximize security improvement. You can significantly lower the likelihood that the internal network defenses or applications on your network will be compromised by providing both on-demand and routine penetration testing cadences.

It becomes now more crucial to stay ahead of a rapidly changing threat landscape in a world where cybercriminals know quick and adoptive new attack vectors.

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