How is Vulnerability Assessment And Penetration Testing


Vulnerability assessment is a process in which the IT systems such as computers and networks, and software such as operating systems and application software are
scanned in order to indentify the presence of known and unknown vulnerabilities.

As many as 70% of web sites have vulnerabilities that could lead to the theft of
sensitive corporate data such as credit card information and customer lists.

Hackers are concentrating their efforts on web-based applications - shopping carts, forms, login pages, dynamic content, etc. Accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the
world, insecure web applications provide easy access to backend corporate databases.

VAPT can be performed in the following nine-step process:

While performing assessments and tests, the scope of the assignment needs to be
clearly defined. The scope is based on the assets to be tested. The following are the
three possible scopes that exist

Black Box Testing: Testing from an external network with no prior knowledge of the internal networks and systems
Gray Box Testing: Testing from an external or internal network, with knowledge of the internal networks and systems. This is usually a combination of black box testing and white box testing
White Box Testing: Performing the test from within the network with the knowledge
of the network architecture and the systems. This is also referred to as internal testing

Information Gathering

The process of information gathering is to obtain as much information as possible
 about the IT environment such as networks, IP addresses, operating system version,
etc. This is applicable to all the three types of scope as discussed earlier.

Vulnerability Detection

In this process, tools such as vulnerability scanners are used, and vulnerabilities are identified in the IT environment by way of scanning.

Information Analysis and Planning

This process is used to analyze the identified vulnerabilities, combined with the information gathered about the IT environment, to devise a plan for penetrating into
the network and system

Penetration Testing

In this process, the target systems are attacked and penetrated using the plan devised
 in the earlier process.

Privilege Escalation

After successful penetration into the system, this process is used to identify and
 escalate access to gain higher privileges, such as root access or administrative access
 to the system.

Result Analysis

This process is useful for performing a root cause analysis as a result of a successful compromise to the system leading to penetration, and devise suitable recommen-
dations in order to make the system secure by plugging the holes in the system.


All the findings that are observed during the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing process need to be documented, along with the recommendations, in order to produce the testing report to the management for suitable actions.


Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing involves compromising the system, and during the process, some of the files may be altered. This process ensures that the system is brought back to the original state, before the testing, by cleaning up
(restoring) the data and files used in the target machines.

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