Choosing the Best Type of Security Scan for your Business

Determining what type of security scan is best for your organization can be tricky. Both vulnerability scanning and penetration testing can provide value to any organization and are used widely across industries. This article will help educate you on the differences between the two and how to use their full capabilities to keep your business protected. 

Vulnerability Scans

 A routine, automatic scan that assesses computers, network, or applications to discover weaknesses.

  • Detailed reports are generated of all IP addresses that are scanned and their levels of vulnerability
  • Recommendations are generated but need to be vetted by the business before addressing the issue
  • Identified vulnerabilities can be remediated many ways, but patching is the most commonly used.

  • Quickly measures the security posture of an environment
  • Lightens an IT team's load by providing automatic, repeatable scans
  • Consistent scans gauge the posture of your environment over time
  • Scans are automated and can result in false positives for finding holes in your environment
  • Scans are helpful but don't tell the whole story of a networks vulnerabilities
  • Once a vulnerability is identified, there is no way for the scan to confirm that particular vulnerability can be exploited. 


Penetration tests

Also known as a pen test, are an authorized simulated cyberattack a computer system that deeply scans to evaluate the security environment with a goal of breaching network systems and data

  • Ethical hackers are used to manually breach the system and data
  • Where vulnerability scans focus on individual components, penetration tests take advantage of a combination of network, application, and other systems to gain access to the network
  • A penetration test provides a detailed report of the combinations used to successfully penetrate the system


  • This test is more accurate because of the detail of the exam being performed by a person, not auto-generated
  • False positives are minimized because all identified vulnerabilities are tested and confirmed by the ethical hacker
  • This test can run for an extended period of time because of the nature of the work
  • This type of test is more expensive than the automated vulnerability scan


which is best for your business?

Determining what type of scan is best for your organization can be tricky. Both vulnerability scanning and penetration testing can provide value to any organization. A vulnerability scan provides value through its quickness and repeatable capabilities because it is an automated scan. Performing a vulnerability scan can provide a baseline for individual security issues that can be fixed via patches or changing default credentials. It gives the IT Team a to-do list for items that can be quickly fixed.

A penetration test provides value through its in-depth results. It will provide additional clarity on how multiple systems working together can leave an organization vulnerable. This can lead to implementing better policies and procedures to improve the security posture of the organization.

To establish a strong security posture, incorporate vulnerability scans preferably on a weekly basis to fix the easy items such as missing patches or open ports. Next, schedule an annual pen test to learn of any exploitable vulnerabilities that may exist in operating systems, services and application flaws, configurations, or end-user behavior. 

Originally published on March 18, 2021

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Cybersecurity and Compliance Cybersecurity and Compliance

Organizations entrust Centre with protecting their technology ecosystem and strengthening their security posture. Centre’s cybersecurity and compliance solutions delivers layered IT security to protect businesses’ employees, customers, and content from known and unknown threats. Through employee awareness training, detailed security assessments, and 24x7 threat containment, Centre is a trusted partner for businesses seeking comprehensive network and data protection. Learn more about Cybersecurity and Compliance »

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