Re: Is Pentesting Goal Oriented, or Coverage Oriented?

Johannes's position is that a pentest that attains a goal, e.g. root
access or a database dump, and then stops is an incomplete and poor
pentest. He believes a good pentester should continue finding as
many vulnerabilities as he can.

I hold the opposite view, which is that a penetration test is, by
definition, focused on achieving a specific goal, and that if the
aim of testing is to find as many vulnerabilities as possible the
type of test you're performing is a vulnerability assessment.

Here are the original arguments:

My Original:

I'm curious as to what the list thinks of the two perspectives.

In my work, we see both vulnerability assessments and penetration
tests as providing a wide coverage, attempting to identify as many
vulnerabilities as possible. The difference between the two, is that
with a pentest, we also attempt to fully exploit serious
vulnerabilities to help customers prioritize their risk and to raise
awareness within the organization. I think our customers almost
always want breadth as a first prioity over depth.

Ultimately, either type of test is typically capped at some number of
hours, so there is always some limitation as to how wide or how deep
one can go, but that's the way we approach it.


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