Vulnerability Testing | Best Techniques for Assessing Risks
Curious about vulnerability testing techniques? We explain processes such as vulnerability assessments, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.
What Is Vulnerability Testing?
Vulnerability testing, also known as vulnerability assessment, evaluates an entire system to look for security weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
A vulnerability is a software bug, design flaw, or misconfiguration that bad actors can exploit to compromise a system. Vulnerability tests reduce the chances bad actors gain unauthorized system access by finding vulnerabilities first and allowing for remediation.
Benefits of Vulnerability Testing
Vulnerability testing allows organizations to take a proactive approach to their security and to assess their risk. These tests complement annual penetration tests (pentests) and enable organizations to improve their security continuously over time.
There are numerous advantages to working with a professional vulnerability testing service:
- Understanding application, system, cloud, and other risks
- Prioritizing upgrades and remediation tasks
- Auditing each device and service on a network and understanding its role
- Managing configuration changes more efficiently
- Reviewing how security investments make a direct impact on a system
Organizations that don’t run vulnerability scans risk attackers finding and exploiting their vulnerabilities first. Exploited bugs can lead to stolen company secrets, compromised customer accounts, and disrupted business operations.
Vulnerability Testing Process
Vulnerability testing consists of several steps that help organizations plan their strategy, identify vulnerabilities, and prioritize outstanding risks for remediation.
Define the Scope
Before an assessment, the organization will need to define and approve a scope of work. This scope details exactly where to perform the test and how to identify potential vulnerabilities.
Organizations can tailor the scope to exclude specific hosts, subnets, or domains. There are three different testing categories: White Box, Grey Box, and Black Box.
- White Box Testing: Vulnerability testing starts with internal systems, applications, and networks and reviews security measures. White box testing begins at the source-code level and works to create an error-free environment.
- Grey Box Testing: Testing starts from inside or outside the environment with knowledge of the systems, applications, and network.
- Black Box Testing: Testing originates from outside the environment with no knowledge of the internal security measures. Black box testing simulates an actual attack.
Ethical hackers, or security testers, will obtain as much information as possible about the system before the scan, including network architecture, operating systems, and services.
Performing the Test
A small team or diverse group of hackers will carry out the vulnerability test. They will perform a combination of automated and manual tests to identify vulnerabilities.
Analysis & Remediation
After the scan, the team will generate a vulnerability report outlining the discovered vulnerabilities, the impacted systems, and remediation solutions. Reports often prioritize vulnerabilities to help administrators efficiently patch the most at-risk systems.
Types of Vulnerability Testing
There are multiple ways an organization can test for vulnerabilities, all with varying methodologies and techniques. Each form of testing can focus on a particular system, application, or network.
Vulnerability scans are usually automated and help organizations discover common environment flaws. A simple vulnerability scan finds common, known vulnerabilities. An automated scan typically isn’t thorough enough for many custom-built systems and applications. Scans often offer less detailed reports and lack exact remediation steps. Vulnerability scans are convenient, useful, and add value but increase security measures when supplemented with a vulnerability assessment.
A vulnerability assessment differs from a scan. It provides a thorough analysis of an organization’s risk by using a small security team to test a system manually. Vulnerability assessments can test internal systems, applications, and networks that are not publicly accessible.
Assessments end with a report detailing discovered vulnerabilities, their severity, and action steps for remediation, and they often find complex vulnerabilities missed by automated vulnerability scans.
The Role of Hackers in Security Testing
When hackers or security researchers perform vulnerability testing, organizations can combine the convenience of automated testing with manual testing, including human intelligence and creativity, to quickly identify and rank high-risk and critical vulnerabilities. Hacker-powered security testing helps organizations understand their cyber risk more thoroughly and address potential exploits before bad actors find them.
HackerOne’s capabilities for AWS customers include an integration with AWS Security Hub that exchanges vulnerabilities and streamlines remediation through accelerated workflows. This integration provides greater visibility into security gaps by consolidating intelligence from HackerOne to the AWS Security Hub in a single view.
HackerOne Assessments: Application Pentest for AWS uncovers risks specific to an organization’s AWS cloud environment and highlights vulnerabilities as well as misconfigurations. This helps AWS customers prevent data leaks, subdomain takeovers, unauthorized access, and more.
Unlike automated vulnerability tests, hacker-powered retesting gives companies confidence that their patches not only work but haven’t introduced additional bugs. Retesting is built directly into the HackerOne platform, allowing security teams to view the status of their retest in real-time.
Organizations can effectively approach risk management with consolidated bug discovery, up-to-date threat analysis, and remediation in a single platform. Businesses use hacker-powered security to secure cloud environments, align to industry standards, and test new products before release.
How HackerOne Can Help
HackerOne Assessments provide on-demand testing that highlights the top security and compliance issues in your system, including solutions specific to AWS environments using highly-trained and AWS Certified hackers.
Whether you’re looking to meet regulatory standards, launch a product, or prove compliance, we’ll help your security teams find and close flaws before cybercriminals exploit them. Our all-in-one platform gives you the freedom to consolidate vendor access and the power to scale your products confidently. Contact us to learn how you can start leveraging hacker-powered security today.