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RE: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest
From: "Richard Feist" <richard () bluesec net>
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 19:59:16 +1200


H'mmm... I've formed my own view over the years...and before I get flamed
this is a gross generalisation:

Security Scan ... Run nessus / nmap / internet scanner / retina and produce
report.

Vulnerability Assessment ... Run nessus / nmap / internet scanner / retina ,
add a bit of test around a few of the vulnerabilities to beef up report and
produce report.

Security Audit ... Examine the process and configuration and ensure
compliance with documented process / configuration. Incl. Standards, etc
where documented ie 17799. Ignore how it can be abused.

Penetration Test ... Do a partial VA (generally external, not internal) as
prep and then exploit a couple of the vulnerabilites found to prove,
sometimes with a token 'we got this' 

Security Assessment ... Comprehensive end to end test encompassing physical
through to human (OSI layer 1 to 7 plus human 8 )

From these what we generally are missing is that these need to be done with
a good understanding of the business and its operational requirements,
generally this is missed and the results are largely un-aligned with the
business, risk management and governance. As an industry this is what we
need to improve.

We also have the problem of the testing being done at large intervals and
this tends to lend a false sense of security. With the way things are going
this is a waste of time/money for the organisation that would be better
spent in ensuring continuous validation of the environment. Ie
tracking/managing the operational security and dealing with weaknesses as
they occur. What we are seeing with SoX, etc is a pressure to get this to a
more 'real time' state. 

Saying that I do believe that a 3rd party assessment is still required but
needs to be more aligned with the business , its risk management and
internal/continous testing and this is where the Enterprise Security
Architecture should come in.

When I get to the stage where the OSSTMM covers both internal and external
testing, a continuos cycle plus relevant metrics ...i'll be happy I've a got
a "Security Assessment" that has long term worth for the business spending
money.

Just an opinion :-)


-----Original Message-----
From: Christine Kronberg [mailto:seeker () shalla de] 
Sent: 07 August 2006 04:54
To: Arkem Paul
Cc: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: Vulnerability Assessment vs. PenTest

On Sun, 6 Aug 2006, Arkem Paul wrote:


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.

   So basicly an assessment is equal to an audit? The 
description above
   is what I usually expect from someone doing an audit.
   A vulnerability assessment I tend to understand in terms 
of investigating
   a specific application (in far more detail than a 
penetration test).

   There are a couple of term mixed every now and again (like someone
   else just stated: funny that we professionals don't come 
up with _one_
   definition):

   Audit
   Security Scan
   Security Assessment
   Vulnerability Assessment
   Penetration Test

   Did I miss one?

   Cheers,

   Christine Kronberg.



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