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Many organisations don’t fully understand the difference between vulnerability scanning, a penetration test, and Red Teaming.

In our latest article, we discussed the difference between a vulnerability scan and a penetration test. Read the full article here.

This article explains the difference between a red team assessment and a penetration test and which assessment is best suited for your organisation.

Vulnerability scan vs penetration testing

Red Team attack simulations go beyond testing an organisation’s IT controls (i.e. firewalls), involving its people, processes and facilities. But a red team assessment is not for everyone and is usually performed by organisations with mature security programs (i.e. positive penetration test results, controls to detect security events, a security-aware culture). A penetration test is more suited for organisations that are still in the early stages of their security program and are looking to identify insecure business processes, poor security settings, or other weaknesses that a hacker could easily exploit.

There are several other factors to consider before choosing one. Some of these include: 

Red team vs pentest checklist

  • Aim: The goal of a penetration test is to find, exploit and thus determine the risk of architecture vulnerabilities. A Red Team assessment, on the other hand, is more targeted and the goal is to test the organisation’s detection and response capabilities. As opposed to a penetration test, a Red Team attack is multi-layered and focuses on the objectives of an attacj rather than on the methods utilised.
  • Methodology: Some of the best industry penetration testing methodologies include: The Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES), Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Testing Guide, NIST SP 800-115 Technical Guide to Information Security Testing and Assessment. Red Team assessment combine intelligence gathering, social engineering, hacking, physical intrusion and other deceptive techniques to compromise defences and gain access to critical information.
  • Scope: The Red Team assessments are more targeted than a penetration test. A Red team assessment scope defines the don’ts (what cannot be done) rather than the do’s and thus replicates a real-life, determined attacker. The scope of a penetration test is generally determined by a finite asset (i.e. web-application) that is being tested.
  • Effort and Duration: Since Red Team engagements involves more stakeholders it usually takes longer to complete than a penetration test. A penetration test often takes 1-2 weeks to complete while a Red Team assessment could span over 3-4 weeks and in some cases several months.

Privasec Penetration Testing Services

Privasec RED consultants use thorough and proven Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Management methodologies that comply with, or exceed, industry best practices to identify and improve your organisation’s security architecture. Privasec’s penetration testing services include but are not limited to: Web Application Penetration Testing, External Penetration Testing, Internal Penetration Testing, Cloud Penetration Testing, Mobile Application Penetration Testing, Remote Access Penetration Testing, OWASP Top 10 Penetration Testing, Wireless and RFID Penetration Testing, Social Engineering and Physical Security Penetration Testing.  

Read more about our penetration testing services here

Privasec Red Teaming Services  

Privasec’s RED Team Attack Simulations provide a more realistic way to test the resilience of not only your IT controls (i.e. firewalls) but also of your people, your processes and your facilities. Our simulated attacks will expose real and present flaws in your security that need to be remediated. A RED Team engagement scope primarily defines the don'ts (i.e. what cannot be done) rather than the do's, leaving our Red Team as unrestricted as a real life attacker would be.

Read more about our Red Team Assessment services here