What Is the Difference Between Security Testing and Penetration Testing?

Ross Jackman | August 21, 2023

What Are the Difference Between Security Testing and Penetration Testing?

Penetration Testing

A penetration test, a pen test, or ethical hacking is a cybersecurity technique or simulated cyber-attack against your computer system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers perform penetration testing. IT experts are the ones who are ethical hackers, and they use hacking methods to help companies identify possible entry points into their infrastructure. There are different methodologies, tools, and approaches via which organizations can perform simulated cyber-attacks to test the strengths and weaknesses of their existing security systems. It's always best to have testers who are new to the application which they are trying to infiltrate. For example, A developer conducting pen testing on their source code may overlook blind spots that an external tester can identify.

Penetration testing should be conducted annually, taking into account factors such as business goals, traffic routing, and budget constraints.

Types of Penetration Testing

  • White Box Testing: Here, testers get the information about the organization's system, network, code, and internal structure of the product required to be tested. Other names of White Box testing are open glass, clear box, transparent or code-based testing.
  • Black Box Testing: In this testing, ethical hackers test real-world attacks to get an idea of the system's vulnerabilities.
  • Gray Box Testing: In this testing, the tester gets partial knowledge like logical flow charts, low-level credentials, etc.

Security Testing

Security testing is the intended process to identify flaws in the security mechanisms of an information system that protect data and maintain functionality as intended. Security testing is required to identify software program vulnerabilities, hazards, and dangers and guard against intruder assaults. The goal of security testing is to identify any potential flaws and openness in the software system that may lead to a loss of the organization's data, income, or reputation.

Security Testing should be included in the early SDLC life cycle, i.e., during phases such as 'Requirements, Design, Coding and Unit Testing, Integration Testing, System Testing, Implementation, and Support.

While Doing Security Testing, Tester Should Consider Below Strategy

  • Include security related scenarios testing
  • Data on security testing
  • Use of Test tools for security testing
  • Verify and analyze test results from different security technologies

Types of Security Testing

  • Vulnerability Scanning: It scans a system against known vulnerability signatures and is done by using automation tools.
  • Security Scanning: It discovers network and system flaws and proposes remedies to mitigate the risks. It is done manually and automatically.
  • Penetration Testing: In this, ethical hackers examine a specific system for possible vulnerabilities in the event of an external hacking attempt.
  • Risk Assessment: This type of testing entails analyzing the security threats identified in the company. It predicts risk-reduction controls and procedures. Levels of risk are: low, medium, and high. This testing suggests risk-reduction controls and procedures.
  • Security Auditing: This is an internal check for security issues in operating systems and applications. A complete examination of the code(line by line) may also be used to conduct an audit.


This publication is for informational purposes only, and nothing contained in it should be considered legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out of this information and encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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