Published on October 19th, 2022 | by Ali Dino


Manual vs Automated: Which Penetration Testing Services to Opt For?

An average site encounters 94 attacks regularly, and just 26% of total data breaches are associated with web application hacks. Cyber threats have only worsened over the years, and they keep evolving, which can be overwhelming for companies. It is known for a fact that penetration testing is the best way to tackle cyber threats and data breaches. However, since penetration testing services are complex and in abundance, there is much debate amongst testers on which type of testing they should opt for.

This slows down the decision-making process for project managers, security engineers, and experts.

A modern-day organization needs a combination of both manual and automated penetration testing services to enhance its security posture. They also need actionable insights that help prevent and fix any security issues.

In this article, we will explore how a combination of both manual and automated penetration testing is required to put on a successful defense against cyber-attacks in the current business landscape.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a process used for examining the security protocols and strength of digital systems by exploiting any existing vulnerabilities.

Putting it simply, you find ways to break into a house, then identify how many areas were accessible from the break-in points, how easy was it for you to break in, and how much of a fortune you could have stolen in the operation.

The core difference between a pen test and a hack is that hackers attempt breaches to steal and cause harm whereas, a pen test helps you identify any exploitable hacks in your system or website and fix them.

What is Manual Penetration Testing?

It is a process where data engineers manually perform extensive tests to access the entire security framework of the system to identify areas with exposure for potential breaches. Security professionals implement hacker-like tactics to find a break-in point and evaluate any vulnerabilities in terms of exploitability and impact. Then, they prepare an in-depth report documenting every aspect of conflicting areas and how to fix them.

What Do Manual Penetration Testing Services Look Like?

  • The security experts create a running profile for attack methods that they can use against the target system. 
  • Next, they prepare multiple test cases and execute them in a way that they don’t affect business processes and detect any system vulnerabilities.
  • They then further personalize attack payloads to target specific applications and execute them while accessing the environment as well.
  • Lastly, they perform a comprehensive analysis of gathered data from the entire testing process to interpret the results, attain vulnerability patterns, and create a plan of action for mitigating the associated risks.

What is Automated Penetration Testing?

 Automation testing is a process of scanning system vulnerabilities with the help of automated processes and tools. The best aspect of automation testing is that it is less costly in the long run as compared to manual testing.. Furthermore, it gives you a quick analysis of your website or network’s vulnerability status.

Automated pen tests scan for system vulnerabilities and produce results in minutes by referencing a vulnerability database. This is the most viable option for SMEs as it does not deal with too much sensitive data and runs on a simple website or application.

Any certified quality assurance company is likely to have a wide range of services that include both manual and automated penetration tests.

Common Differences Between Automated and Manual Penetration Testing

Automated TestingManual Testing
Vulnerability scanning or automated penetration testing involves detecting vulnerabilities automatically with penetration testing tools.   In manual penetration testing, security experts meticulously assess your security infrastructure.
The process is quick and saves a great deal of time.The process of conducting a manual pen test can take days on end.
Vulnerability scanning is a low-effort and efficient process.To conduct a proper manual penetration test, it is necessary to plan and prepare in advance.
It does not provide a deeper understanding of the vulnerabilities.The report provides detailed and in-depth information about vulnerabilities.
Automated penetration testing services allow users to discover common security mistakes such as faulty updates, permission rules that are flawed, and configuration flaws quickly.It identifies acute flaws that are usually missed, including loopholes, business logic errors, coding flaws, etc. These vulnerabilities are exploited to quantify the system impact. 

Why Opt For a Quality Assurance Company?

Quality assurance is a key software development stage that ensures compliance with project requirements and quality standards, as well as the necessary regulations. By partnering with a quality assurance company, you will prevent potential bottlenecks that comprise performance issues and security vulnerabilities. As software failures may cost thousands and millions of dollars, it is crucial to focus on quality control for cost savings and increased trust in your products.

Final Verdict

The effectiveness and quality of manual testing cannot be overpowered by automated penetration testing services. However, the scalability and speed of the automated pen test are just remarkable. Therefore, you need a perfect combination of both types of penetration testing services.  All systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks.  The sooner you get QA services from a quality assurance company, the better your chances are for avoiding the nuisance of getting hacked.

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