Penetration Testing Vs. Ethical Hacking


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Penetration testing is very closely related to ethical hacking, so these two terms are often used interchangeably. However there is a thin line of difference between these two terms. This chapter provides insights into some basic concepts and fundamental differences between penetration testing and ethical hacking.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is a specific term and focuses only on discovering the vulnerabilities, risks, and target environment with the purpose of securing and taking control of the system. Or in other words, penetration testing targets respective organization’s defence systems consisting of all computer systems and its infrastructure.

Ethical Hacking

On the other hand, ethical hacking is an extensive term that covers all hacking techniques, and other associated computer attack techniques. So, along with discovering the security flaws and vulnerabilities, and ensuring the security of the target system, it is beyond hacking the system but with a permission in order to safeguard the security for future purpose. Hence, we can that, it is an umbrella term and penetration testing is one of the features of ethical hacking.

The following are the major differences between Penetration testing and Ethical hacking which is listed in the following table −

Penetration Testing Ethical Hacking
A narrow term focuses on penetration testing only to secure the security system. A comprehensive term and penetration testing is one of its features.
A tester essentially does need to have a comprehensive knowledge of everything rather required to have the knowledge of only the specific area for which he conducts pen testing. An ethical hacker essentially needs to have a comprehensive knowledge of software programming as well as hardware.
A tester not necessarily required to be a good report writer. An ethical hacker essentially needs to be an expert on report writing.
Any tester with some inputs of penetration testing can perform pen test. It requires to be an expert professional in the subject, who has the obligatory certification of ethical hacking to be effective.
Paper work in less compared to Ethical hacking. A detailed paper works are required, including legal agreement etc.
To perform this type of testing, less time required. Ethical hacking involves lot of time and effort compared to Penetration testing.
Normally, accessibility of whole computer systems and its infrastructure doesn’t require. Accessibility is required only for the part for which the tester performing pen testing. As per the situation, it normally requires a whole range of accessibility all computer systems and its infrastructure.

Since penetration techniques are used to protect from threats, the potential attackers are also swiftly becoming more and more sophisticated and inventing new weak points in the current applications. Hence, a particular sort of single penetration testing is not sufficient to protect your security of the tested systems.

As per the report, in some cases, a new security loophole is discovered and successful attack took place immediately after the penetration testing. However, it does not mean that the penetration testing is useless. It only means that, this is true that with thorough penetration testing, there is no guarantee that a successful attack will not take place, but definitely, the test will substantially reduce the possibility of a successful attack.

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