Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing: What is the Difference?

Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Penetration Testing (PT) make up a thorough cybersecurity practice known as VAPT that is used to evaluate the vulnerabilities of a network infrastructure. Although both have the same area of focus in cybersecurity services— vulnerability analysis, they have different goals and distinct outcomes.

Vulnerability Assessment is a list-oriented practice where all the pre-existing vulnerabilities of a system’s infrastructure are listed without assessing which weakness is more likely to be exploited.

Penetration Testing, on the other hand, is a practice where cybersecurity experts try to exploit the security weaknesses in network infrastructure to analyze the severity of each weakness, i.e., whether it is likely to be exploited or not. Penetration Testing is more goal oriented.

Vulnerability Assessment, or VA, is a non-intrusive practice that is not likely to harm an IT infrastructure but is a more superficial process focused on identifying flaws that are already present in that infrastructure. Penetration Testing, or PT, does the opposite, i.e., pen testers attempt to compromise the system’s infrastructure by exploiting all the potential weaknesses to check the system’s vulnerabilities.

Another difference between the two cybersecurity processes is that the quality of the test doesn’t go down with automation in the case of Vulnerability Assessment, but Penetration Tests are more likely to be accurate when performed manually on top of automated scanner.

Benefits of VAPT

  • VAPT attempts to perform a full risk assessment. With complete system analysis, all vulnerabilities are assessed, their consequences are determined, and the system’s tolerability to those flaws is discerned.
  • With vulnerability assessment, a low-budget start-up can handily find out all the loopholes and flaws in network infrastructure to mitigate all the identified risks without costing a fortune.
  • The manual testing in case of pen test results in a thorough assessment of a network infrastructure to present a detailed view of all the potential threats and vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malicious actors.
  • A complete VAPT solution safeguards a business from data breaches and cyberattacks in addition to preserving its reputation.