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RE: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest
From: "Daniel Accioly Rosa" <listas.accioly () terra com br>
Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 01:39:33 +0100

What I find most interesting in these discussions is that even tough we are
all seasoned professionals, we can't agree 100% on a definition neither to
Vulnerability Assessment or Pen Testing.

What lesson should we take from this? I'm not saying that we don't know what
we are doing (most of use here are very good professionals), but maybe there
is too much "art" in this job... Each day that goes by I believe more and
more that we need to agree on common grounds on how we perform our duties...

You are right StyleWar, coffee now would be nice.. :)

Daniel Accioly Rosa, CISA CISSP
daniel.accioly[AT]terra.com.br

-----Original Message-----
From: StyleWar [mailto:stylewar () cox net] 
Sent: 06 August 2006 01:01
To: sol () haveyoubeentested org; 'Mark Ausley, CISSP'
Cc: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: RE: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest

I can break it down like legos.

The value proposition of a pen test is an understanding of whether the
investment into detection and response is at an appropriate level.

The value proposition of a vulnerability assessment is an understanding of
whether internal controls such as patch management, physical security etc.
are adequate given a specific risk tolerance.

Although one may use elements of the other, they are, and will forever be-
very different things (despite the boutique's attempts to make them 'the
same thing').

In the hands of a good pen tester, a pen test does NOT have to exploit
vulnerabilities in order to achieve its value proposition.

In the hands of a good analyst, a vulnerability assessment will avoid
excessive commentary on specific exploitable conditions, and instead expose
the flaws that created the opportunity for those vulnerabilities to exist in
that environment in the first place...

...Now-- go get me some coffee...Teaching makes me tired.

:)

-

StyleWar

"never underestimate the dousing effect of cubicles and consensus management
on the candles of creativity and leadership" 

-----Original Message-----
From: Sol Invictus [mailto:sol () haveyoubeentested org]
Sent: Saturday, August 05, 2006 7:13 AM
To: Mark Ausley, CISSP
Cc: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: RE: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest

You guys are making this way too complicated.

The only difference between a Vulnerability Assessment and a 
Penetration Test is the fact that a Pen test will verify that the 
vulnerabilities are in fact exploitable by actually exploiting those 
vulnerabilites.

Many services will perform a VA and never run any exploits and try to 
pass it as a Pen test.  If you have someone doing that, then they are 
trying to overcharge you.

The price between a VA and a Pen-test can be significant.  
Why is that?
it's the level of responsibility that the Pen-testers must take.  

It's very important that your Service provider know the difference and 
is able to explain the difference.  If they can't do that then you 
should not use their services.  If they have a high priced VA then you 
need them to justify the "value adds".

Sol.


On Sat, 2006-08-05 at 00:47 -0400, Mark Ausley, CISSP wrote:
A Vulnerability Assessment can vary in scale and complexity
but will
generally include the following:

1. External scan with Nessus, STAT, Retina, etc to obtain general 
security posture of systems.
2. Internal scan with something like CIS tools, DISA scripts, Gold 
Disk etc to assess the configuration of the systems and
their patch levels, etc.
There is some overlap between these first two steps.
3. Review system architecture and associated documentation.
4. Interview SysAdmins & Engineers on system operation.
5. Review existing policy, procedures, SOPs, etc.
6. Perform and document the risk analysis.

A PEN test on the other hand can include any number of the VA items 
but usually include a much wider array of testing tools.

A PEN test is usually a few hours to a few days as opposed to a VA 
which can take months to perform. Also, during PEN tests
you usually
have little knowledge of the target systems prior to the test. A VA 
involves unrestricted access and knowledge of the target systems.

A PEN test usually has a pre-set goal. The scope of the testing and 
its goal is usually spelled out to the tester and can be limited or 
unlimited. A PEN test can be more likely to break or disrupt normal 
operations than a VA and always requires official documents
indicating what is allowed.

PEN tests really illustrate the relationship of vulnerabilities and 
how they can string together to open a hole in what
appeared to be a solid wall.


-- Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: James Harless [mailto:jharless () kidwellcompanies com]
Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 4:57 PM
To: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest

Where is the line between a Vulnerability Assessment and a
PenTest?  
In other words, which tests do you run which identifies your 
assessment as a pentest rather than a VA?
 
And, related, do VAs still have value?  Do you feel that a PenTest 
includes everything that a VA would (and more)?
 
My thoughts are that a VA is just an effort to document all the 
identified and potential vulnerabilities on a network.  A
PenTest is
an attempt to identify those vulnerabilities and then
exploit some of
them to verify their weakness.
 

James


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