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Re: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest
From: Arkem Paul <bob () mornmist com>
Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2006 11:49:21 +1000

I think that a Vulnerability Assessment and a Penetration Test have different goals in mind.

A Penetration Test in my mind is aimed at testing the response and detection level of a network as well as demonstrating that there is an exploitable way in to the network. I see a Penetration Test as being less useful in auditing the security of the network in terms of specific vulnerabilities as a Penetration Test is unlikely to penetrate the network in all the possible ways, seeking only the easiest or most effective methods. I imagine Penetration Tests demonstrating to a client that their network is vulnerable and that their response procedures and detection mechanisms are not up to scratch. I don't see the Penetration Test providing comprehensive recommendations on securing the entire network beyond the very general recommendations or those specific to the compromises used. I feel that a Penetration Test will often recommend that a Vulnerability Assessment be conducted.

A Vulnerability Assessment should be a comprehensive look from policy and procedures to implementation of security in the network and should include such things as patch management, virus protection, user education, SOE hardening, infrastructure configuration, etc.

In short the penetration test demonstrates that a specific vulnerability exists and if the detection and response mechanisms were effective while a Vulnerability Assessment is a comprehensive look at security procedure and policy from inside the network.

Are they the same? No.
Are they related? Yes.
Can they be offered as part of the same service? Yes but it is rarely done properly.

-Arkem

----- Original Message -----
From: James Harless [mailto:jharless () kidwellcompanies com]
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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This List Sponsored by: Cenzic

Concerned about Web Application Security?
Why not go with the #1 solution - Cenzic, the only one to win the Analyst's Choice Award from eWeek. As attacks through web applications continue to rise, you need to proactively protect your applications from hackers. Cenzic has the most comprehensive solutions to meet your application security penetration testing and vulnerability management needs. You have an option to go with a
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This List Sponsored by: Cenzic

Concerned about Web Application Security? Why not go with the #1 solution - Cenzic, the only one to win the Analyst's Choice Award from eWeek. As attacks through web applications continue to rise, you need to proactively protect your applications from hackers. Cenzic has the most comprehensive solutions to meet your application security penetration testing and vulnerability management needs. You have an option to go with a managed service (Cenzic ClickToSecure) or an enterprise software (Cenzic Hailstorm). Download FREE whitepaper on how a managed service can help you: http://www.cenzic.com/news_events/wpappsec.php And, now for a limited time we can do a FREE audit for you to confirm your results from other product. Contact us at request () cenzic com for details.
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