Vulnerability Assessment vs. Penetration Test: Cutting Through the Noise

Posted by Infinite Group on Feb 22, 2024 12:33:49 PM

In a previous blog, we explored the differences between vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Once you have identified whether you need a vulnerability assessment or a penetration test, the next step in the process is ensuring that you’re getting what you need. The way providers market and quote these two solutions can be confusing and, at times, even misleading. For example, a “network scan” is sometimes used interchangeably with a vulnerability scan. However, it should not be used to refer to a penetration test.

Ending up with an inadequate solution means both your valuable time and hard-earned money have been spent on a solution that falls short of addressing your actual requirements.


Understanding the True Cost Difference

Vulnerability assessments and penetration tests are essential in cybersecurity, but their cost difference stems from the depth and complexity of the evaluation they provide. A vulnerability assessment is a cost-effective starting point to identify known vulnerabilities, whereas a penetration test involves simulating a real cyber-attack, demanding extensive effort, time, and expertise.

👉 When choosing between the two, consider your specific needs and available resources, as both solutions play vital roles in bolstering your cyber defenses. 

As with any significant purchase, obtaining multiple quotes for the same service will help you determine if you are truly getting what you need. Be wary of quotes for penetration tests that are significantly lower than others, as it could indicate that you will be getting a vulnerability assessment instead. Alternatively, lower cost options might provide only a system generated report without undergoing a review by a cybersecurity expert.

👉 Prioritize the quality and credibility of the services offered over merely opting for the cheapest option. Invest wisely for genuine peace of mind.


Evaluating Providers

The right cybersecurity services provider can help you establish robust defense measures against cyber threats, ensuring compliance with industry standards, and providing comprehensive reports and recommendations to enhance your overall security posture. 

Before selecting a provider, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure their expertise, experience, and methodologies align with your specific security needs:

  • Is your company using its own employees to provide the service? If yes, what are your employees’ qualifications (i.e., years of experience, certifications, etc.)? If not, who is the partner responsible for delivering 
    the services, and what is your relationship with them?

  • Does the output of the work consist only of a computer-generated report, or is the output reviewed by a cybersecurity professional and enhanced with their recommendations?

  • If you are having a penetration test conducted, does it meet the standards in NIST 800-115?

  • How is the final report delivered – via email, or is there a scheduled call with one of your cybersecurity experts to present the findings and recommendations, ensuring a clear understanding and facilitating 
    appropriate actions?

  • After we remediate and address any identified issues, what is the follow-up process? Do you provide a retesting option to verify that the identified gaps have been addressed?

Ready to start? Our team is here to help! Our approach to cybersecurity is simple. We learn about your business, so we can create tailored solutions that align with your organizational and security objectives and requirements. It’s our people, helping your people. Contact us today to learn more.

Topics: Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments