Skip to content

Vulnerability Scanning Vs. Penetration Testing

What Is Vulnerability Scanning?

Vulnerability Scanning is an automated process of identifying network, application, and security vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scanning is performed by the technology department of an organization or a third-party service provider.

Vulnerability scanners often have many thousands of automated tests at their disposal, and by probing and gathering information about your systems, can identify security holes which could be used by hackers to steal sensitive information, gain unauthorized access to systems, or to cause general disruption to your business.

Vulnerability management process

This vulnerability management process involves:

  • Identification of vulnerabilities
  • Evaluation of the risk posed by any vulnerabilities identified
  • Treatment of any identified vulnerabilities
  • Reporting on vulnerabilities and how they have been handled


The main way to identify vulnerabilities is through vulnerability scanning, and a scanner’s efficacy depends on two things:

  • the ability of the scanner to locate and identify devices, software and open ports, and gather other system information
  • the ability to correlate this information with known vulnerability information from one or more vulnerability databases

What Is A Penetration Test?

A penetration test is an authorized simulated attack performed on a computer system to evaluate its security. Penetration testers use the same tools, techniques, and processes as attackers to find and demonstrate the business impacts of weaknesses in your systems.

What Type Of Penetration Do You Need?

Web Application Penetration Testing

Web application penetration tests involves testing the security integrity of a company’s browser-based applications.

Network Security Penetration Testing

Network penetration tests are used to find places a hacker might exploit in various systems, networks, network devices (think routers, switches), and hosts.

Cloud Security Penetration Testing

Cloud security penetration tests are essential in helping companies invested in cloud technology protect vulnerable assets.

The Bottom Line

In Short, Vulnerability scans look for known vulnerabilities in your systems and report potential exposures. Penetration tests are intended to exploit weaknesses in the architecture of your IT network and determine the degree to which a malicious attacker can gain unauthorized access to your assets.