Vulnerability analysis is the process of defining, identifying, classifying and prioritising vulnerabilities in computer systems, applications and network infrastructures and providing the organisation who is undergoing the assessment with the necessary knowledge, awareness and risk background to understand the threats to its environment and react appropriately.
A comprehensive vulnerability assessment along with a penetration test helps companies drastically improve the security of their systems. Industry-leading vulnerability scanners, configured with optimised settings, are utilised to analyse the target environment. This process discovers misconfigurations, unsupported software, missing patches, unintentionally open services, and publicly disclosed exploits, to name a few. The information can then be used to formulate a plan to eliminate the threats or reduce them to an acceptable level of risk.
A vulnerability assessment provides an organisation with information on the security weaknesses in its environment and provides direction on how to assess the risks associated with those weaknesses and evolving threats. This process offers the organisation a better understanding of its assets, security flaws and overall risk, reducing the likelihood that a cyber criminal will breach its systems and catch the business off guard.
A vulnerability assessment uses automated network security scanning tools. The results are listed in the vulnerability assessment report, which focuses on providing enterprises with a list of vulnerabilities that need to be fixed, without evaluating specific attack goals or scenarios.
In contrast, penetration testing involves identifying vulnerabilities in a network, and it attempts to exploit them to attack the system. Although sometimes carried out in concert with vulnerability assessments, the primary aim of penetration testing is to check whether a vulnerability really exists and to prove that exploiting it can damage the application or network.
A vulnerability assessment merely lists all the discovered vulnerabilities found in a system and provides actionable information on how to mitigate them.