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Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing - more commonly known as pen testing - play a huge role in cyber security, something that is more important than ever. According to a report by Dark Reading, businesses suffered a 50% increase in cyberattack attempts per week in 2021. This huge increase should alert all business owners to ensure their networks are adequately protected.

To more efficiently help business owners do just that, there have been some drastic changes in the world of vulnerability assessments and pen testing. Here are some of those key changes, and why you should care.

To start, let’s talk about the difference between a vulnerability assessment and a pen test. A vulnerability assessment is geared towards fighting issues on the surface level by identifying the vulnerabilities within a system. For example, imagine the vulnerability assessment is trying to go through your front door. It can report back to you that it’s unlocked, as well as all the things that could potentially happen if a vulnerability were to walk in. Sure, it may be good to know that your door is unlocked - but if a vulnerability entered, how does this impact your system?

This is where the pen test enters. A pen test evaluates the security of the system by mimicking a cyberattack; it takes the vulnerability assessment several steps further by showing you what a vulnerability would be able to access if it were to be present. Not only are you made aware of the vulnerabilities that exist, but the pen test demonstrates impact. What would happen if somebody were to actually export this vulnerability? Do they gain access to sensitive data? Could it transition into ransomware? Are other vulnerabilities able to be accessed?

Pen testing requires logic, which means that it often takes multiple weeks to have a completed report. It includes figuring out IP addresses, gaining access, and writing the reports. However, automated pen testing is possible - and it produces the same accurate results as a manual report in a fraction of the time.

Automated pen tests have recently been introduced into the cyber security world and have changed how businesses approach this important task. Automating a pen test is similar to automating a mindset. A pen test makes many decisions and commands and interprets the output. It is essentially a huge logic tree that continues to grow. Because it is automated, programmers are then able to spend more of their time in security research and focus on targeting new vulnerabilities that come out in the export.

The ultimate goal of a pen test is to prepare the information of the export to be easily digested by a business person. It involves cool technology, but it ultimately exists to protect clients and businesses, and must be created to make sense to them. Not only does a pen test help them to understand the vulnerabilities, but it increases the perceived value of exploit remediation.

When you onboard a new client and sign the contract, they count on you for protection. A pen test is a reliable method of ensuring security, ultimately building trust between you and the client.

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