How Pentesting and Vulnerability Scanning Can Work Together

Cybersecurity is on its way to becoming one of the most important areas of any business that has to deal with tons of data. Old-school antiviruses aren’t enough to keep your sensitive data protected from malicious hackers anymore. Nowadays, newer, more sophisticated and comprehensive resources are required to make sure any business stays safe.

The two main and most powerful tools, especially when used together, are penetration tests and vulnerability scanners. A penetration test is a bug-bounty procedure conducted by a team of ethical hackers. They manually look for vulnerabilities or misconfigurations that put companies at risk, trying to break into their environments. Vulnerability scanners are automatic tools designed to look for already-known CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures).

Combining the power of automated technology with the creativity and depth of a highly qualified red team (the penetration testing team) is the best case scenario for any business worried about their cybersecurity.

Learn more about the difference between a penetration test and a vulnerability scanner with this analogy.

What is pentesting and how does it work?

A penetration test, or pentest, is a thorough procedure performed by a team of hackers whose goal is to get into a company's cyber environment through a variety of methods. Depending on the environment being tested, there are different types of pentests that can be performed. While an internal pentest tests within the organization's own cyberspace, an external pentest is used for connections with people outside the organization, and a cloud pentest analyzes the security of the company’s cloud configuration.

The traditional pentest process consists of 3 parts. First, white-hat hackers identify vulnerabilities and potential threats that might harm the tested company. They then intentionally exploit those vulnerabilities and check if they put the company at real risk. And lastly, they report on all of the findings and recommend remediation actions, as well as additional feedback on how to protect their digital assets.

It’s natural for those who aren’t familiar with this procedure to have concerns regarding its invasiveness. However, the main benefit of pentesting is identifying and addressing vulnerabilities or threats before malicious attackers can take advantage of them. Not to mention the fact that these tests are highly encouraged by regulations or cybersecurity frameworks.

What is vulnerability scanning and how does it work?

Vulnerability scanning is an automated process conducted by a cybersecurity tool or platform. It looks for common vulnerabilities and exposures all over your organization’s digital environments through a variety of different scanners. Similar to manual pentests, there are different types of comprehensive scanners that could be used based on the environment being analyzed (internal, external, or cloud). Where pentests and scanners differ the greatest is in the fact that pentests are performed by people, whereas scanners utilize tech-based solutions.

The CVE scanning process starts with identifying vulnerabilities and exposures. It generates a report describing the threat, and provides recommendations for remediations. Different solutions offer a wide range of scanners, but it’s recommended to look for reliable tools that provide frequent, easy-to-read reports that can be implemented instantly.

Vulnerability scanning is a must for organizations that care about keeping their sensitive data secure. They’re inexpensive and are able to identify most of the basic and known vulnerabilities, providing decent visibility into the security of your network. Though they may sound like minor harmless threats, it’s important to consider that because they are already known, many hackers have the knowledge to exploit them and can do so quickly and efficiently.

How can pentesting and vulnerability scanning work together?

These two solutions are not exclusive. Contrarily, complementing one practice with the other provides a more comprehensive view and thorough understanding of the security of your digital environments and network. For example, vulnerabilities discovered by the CVE scanner can be manually exploited by the pentesting team to determine the actual level of exposure and risk that the company is facing.

Using the two together also optimizes cyber security efforts. To avoid having people perform basic automatable tasks, tech-based solutions can do it at a lower cost and can be scaled easily. Similarly, it’s better that some specific pentesting tasks are done by real hackers that can use their expertise, knowledge, and creativity to figure out new attacks that automatic solutions may not consider.

How can Red Sentry help?

The first step to improving cybersecurity is being aware of the risks and current vulnerabilities the company is facing. Only then can you fix those holes and secure your digital assets. By combining the power of tech-based automation with high-quality pen-testers, you can be confident that your company is taking all the necessary precautions in order to ensure your security.

With an experienced team of ethical hackers, Red Sentry helps companies raise their security awareness and improve their cybersecurity posture. We provide the fastest and most comprehensive pentesting for all environments, and also provide a CVE scanner that produces a daily intuitive and easy-to-read report with instant remediation actions to fix found vulnerabilities.

Let us help you quickly exploit your vulnerabilities and provide you with peace of mind. Schedule your free customized audit today. Ask for it in your message.

Learn everything you need to know about SOC 2 Compliance requirements here.

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