Many businesses have already run a vulnerability assessment, so they may ask why they need to take the extra step of running Pen Tests. Penetration testing usually occurs after performing a vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability assessment has the same goals as a Pen Test, but generally, a vulnerability assessment only employs automated vulnerability scanners to spot common issues.
Vulnerability scanning can indeed help by pinpointing security vulnerabilities. Good scans even categorize security risks, assign risk levels, and offer remediation suggestions. While it's not the same thing as a penetration test, this kind of security assessment may be used to help gather the information that will help plan the test.
In contrast, a Network Pen Tester will engage in what's called ethical hacking. These ethical hackers will set up tests that behave as if they came from a real digital criminal. Through simulated attacks, computer, internet, and network penetration testing will uncover exactly how systems respond to an actual cybersecurity threat. The security professionals will also provide clear remediation advice that may apply to software, hardware, or even the human side of managing complex digital systems.