Penetration Testing Vs Vulnerability Scanning

If you’ve heard of Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning that must mean you’re thinking about the security of your network, which is great because it’s important to take your network and digital security as seriously as the security of your physical assets, for example your business premises…

Regardless of having heard of the terms, Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning we tend to find that many people don’t necessarily understand the difference between the two, likewise how they can assist in your business security.

As the two are frequently confused, today’s blog aims to provide you with an insight into both Penetration Testing and Vulnerability scanning, whilst presenting to you that these Security Professional Services are in fact quite different.

What is the difference between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning?

The main difference between the two is that Penetration Testing has a purpose of gaining access into your networks/ systems, to find and test any weaknesses within and by exploiting them, which is why Penetration Testing is often referred to as ethical hacking.

Fundamentally, during a Penetration Test our team will act in the same way as a hacker would, by gaining access to your network and attempting to exploit your weaknesses, before compiling a report and presenting our findings to you, along with the recommendations to best secure your system architecture.

On the other hand, Vulnerability Scanning provides your business with the resource that identifies any security vulnerabilities, enabling you to address them before they are exploited by hackers.

An analogy to help you to easily differentiate between the two in real-world terms is a burglar…

When it comes to a vulnerability scan, the burglar will assess your property, scanning around the perimeter to see where potential access could be gained, so entry via windows, doors, balconies etc will be noted, however this is as far as it goes, the thief knows where entry could be gained.

A Penetration Test on the other hand is where the thief (hacker) exploits these entry points and accesses your property (network architecture) looking round inside your property.

How often are Pen Tests & Vulnerability Scans conducted? 

Penetration Testing frequency can be dependent upon your business nature, as with most things security this is often dictated by your company policy.

If you are a business that makes several firewall changes then we would recommend that this be done every 3-6 months, if however, you make very few changes then once a year should be adequate.

Vulnerability Scanning should ideally be conducted on a quarterly basis, however as with Penetration Testing this can also be dictated by your individual business policy- which could mean more regular Vulnerability Scans are required.

There we have our introduction to the differences between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning, we would love to speak to you if either of these Security Professional Services are something you’ve been thinking about, likewise if you would like some further information, please contact Data Installation & Supplies on 01274 869 099 or


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