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The difference between a penetration test and a vulnerability scan

Virtually every company right now uses computers, or cloud services to run its operations as well as store (often very sensitive) data. While collecting and storing data is imperative to run a business nowadays, at the same time these companies are facing a tremendous risk of cybersecurity breaches. There are, of course, a few ways companies can minimize those risks, be it through securing cyber insurance, investing in the latest security systems, but also by performing cybersecurity risk assessments that, among other tests, might include penetration tests, and vulnerability scan. 

This article by Pacific Prime Hong Kong will explain the importance of conducting cybersecurity risk assessments, and the difference between a penetration test and a vulnerability scan.

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Cybersecurity strategy is a must 

All companies that have a website, store customer or client data on their servers, or even have a social media presence are in need of having a cybersecurity strategy in place. Potential cybersecurity threats such as hacker attacks, monetary losses due to a server down-time, or leakage of sensitive client’s data are just a few to name, and can seriously damage the company’s reputation and ability to continue the business. One way to minimize these risks is to run cybersecurity tests, such as the penetration test and vulnerability scan. 

What is the main difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing? 

Both types of these risk assessment tests aim to find weak points in the network systems they are scanning. However, vulnerability scans and vulnerability assessments search systems for known vulnerabilities, while penetration tests attempt to actively exploit weaknesses, for example, through a controlled virus attack. This will tell the company if their defense systems are strong enough, and in which areas they need to improve. Most companies run penetration tests to assess and find out real security weaknesses in their systems, while vulnerability scans are good for security maintenance, as it’s based upon an already known database and known threats.

To summarize, vulnerability scanning is based on a set of known threats, aiming to “double-check” if the current networks are strong enough to defend itself. A penetration test is a more comprehensive test, as it checks the system for new and unknown threats, exposing more potential weaknesses in the system. Both types of tests are best to run through a third-party company to ensure the objectiveness of the results. Both vulnerability scans and penetration tests are important to a cybersecurity risk analysis, and when done properly, they help businesses prepare better and minimize cyber risks threats significantly. 

Consider cyber insurance for an extra layer of protection

Similar to errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, cyber insurance normally covers expenses related to the first-party damage, as well as claims by third parties. Third-party coves costs related to investigation expenses, lawsuits, and extortion, as well as liability arising from a failure to maintain the confidentiality of data. First-party coverage covers direct losses to the company, such as business interruption, data recovery, monetary losses due to network downtime, and costs involved in managing a crisis – which may involve repairing a company’s reputation.

Protect your business from cyber-threats

Cyber risks are changing and evolving quickly. Frequently carried out penetration tests and vulnerability scans together a cyber insurance plan in place should be able to protect your company from unpredictable cybersecurity threats. To learn more about cyber insurance, contact Pacific Prime Hong Kong today for impartial advice on receiving a cyber-security risk assessment.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!