Differences Between Penetration Testing And Vulnerability Scanning


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Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are the two major key tools used for fighting against cybersecurity breaches, but what features separate vulnerability scanning and penetration testing? Penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are the two main security services designed to highlight the weaker areas in our business security so they could be rectified before a cybersecurity incident occurs.

Because of this, penetration testing and vulnerability scanning are often confused for the same service, with the terms getting used interchangeably. It could lead to issues as businesses may invest in one turn when they need the other.

What is the main difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing as to which one is right for our business?

What is vulnerability scanning?

It is a security procedure conducted by some special tools automatically. This process could be applied to a whole information system or program application. The vulnerability scanner aims to check if the system has any vulnerabilities from attacks of hackers and information stolen from an organization or company.

This testing is often performed by a specific software created specifically to conduct the assessment. Most common examples of software designed for vulnerability testing are Nessus and OpenVas used by professional companies for white hat hackers for analyzing how a single IP address or several addresses that belong to a business are protected and what could be potentially done by black hat hackers.

If some of the Apache webserver patches are missed, the software will inform and provide the most effective solutions. What is also rather important about the software is that it allows for a full report related to the system or application vulnerabilities and provides an opportunity to see the priorities.

If one vulnerability is more critical than the other ones, they would be a chance for tracing them and paying attention to them before the other ones. This procedure is often conducted automatically, but it still requires a skillful system administrator to control the process, examine and evaluate the results, and explain the final statements to the director and business owners. This automatic process my name finding the so-called open doors in a constant and protected information system of some companies. 

A vulnerability scan could help understand where these doors are located and which ones should be the first to close, not allowing the black hat hackers to receive access to the company data and critical information. Simultaneously, the process’s effectiveness depends on the applied software, and the specialist works with it and can find the best approach for every specific situation.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration Tests might be followed by vulnerability scanning, and an additional assessment carried manually by security engineers, white hat hackers, or ethical hackers. They do not simply apply software and interpret the results, but they also look for the vulnerabilities in their way and could even utilize usual methods.

Black hat hackers could also use their software to e enter the system automatically, but it usually conducts it manually using a distinctive approach and methodology. These attacks should certainly be investigated and prevented by white hat hackers by using their methods.

They also help understand the nature of the problem related to any vulnerability described in the report provided after vulnerability scanning by using specialized software. For example, the data that a company’s website is vulnerable to hurt bleed but the real importance of the situation and the actions persist and clear for business owners.

There might be no reason to worry in some cases, but there might also be other situations that might imply the upcoming attack or its attempts. A specialist who conducts penetration tests will provide a better understanding of a real threat and suggest the most effective decisions.

What is also important is that a white hat hacker will try to conduct a cyber attack on a system or website to understand its level of protection and vulnerabilities in the same way as if black hat hackers performed it. The major difference is the purpose and Authority over this process. A business owner will know how much the data is protected and what is required to be changed at the nearest time. At the same time, nothing will be lost or removed from a database.

How does a Penetration test differ from vulnerability scanning?

For understanding the difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing and for choosing the most appropriate solution, it is probable to compare these options for a common health check it should be conducted regularly as well as safety audits in the company, but the majority of companies often ignore this requirement referring to lack of money, time and opportunities for inviting a specialist. At the same time, we all could imagine the consequences.

The same situation lies in the square of cybersecurity; if we have performed the hematologic study and obtain the result, we might notice that some indicators are collected from the wanted ones; for instance, your level of leukocytes is lower. Hence we have a basic idea of the problem, but it provides a little notion without a more careful examination that could be done only by a doctor. From one point of view, vulnerability testing is play reader, cheaper, and does not require so many sources. 

From the other and it provides us with a very general picture of the real situation. In contrast, penetration testing requires more money and time, but it has the capability to point the real issues and risks accurately that it might be desired in utilizing only the common analysis.


Each entrepreneur and business owner makes a decision about a variety of security audit that depends upon business needs and specificities. In regard, it becomes extremely important to understand how does a penetration test differs from vulnerability scanning to make knowledgeable and right decisions related to a company’s cybersecurity. 

At the same time, finding a professional who is able in conducting smart penetration testing and vulnerability scanning attacks for the system from a viewpoint of a black hat hacker is the preferable option in the perspective of protecting business websites, bank accounts, applications, and client information from a real cyber attack the consequences of which could convert into a genuine catastrophe for any kind of business.

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