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Automated Penetration Testing: An Introduction

Table of contents

  • Introduction to Automated Penetration Testing
  • How does automated penetration testing work?
  • What are the advantages of automated penetration testing?
  • The effectiveness of automated penetration testing tools in enterprises
  • Conclusion

Over the last few decades, many IT security consulting firms have provided manual penetration tests. Their mission was to investigate business infrastructure entry points to discover vulnerabilities and gaps that needed sealing and security. There are two types of penetration tests.

  • Manual penetration test
  • Automated penetration test

Automated pen testing aimed to shorten the procedure while lowering costs. On the other hand, automated penetration testing saves time for businesses and vendors and is evolving and developing. But is it ready to bridge the gap between the discovery of the vulnerabilities and mitigation? Let’s discuss this in detail and find out more. Read on.

Introduction to Automated Penetration Testing

Automated penetration testing (also known as vulnerability scanning) assesses security risks in a system using security tools. Automated penetration testing and security audits are much faster because they rely on machine learning and algorithms to detect vulnerabilities. As a result, you can expect automated penetration testing to produce results in a matter of seconds to a few minutes.

Also, penetration testing examines the exploits and vulnerabilities in an organisation’s system and enables developers to create a secure system that satisfies requirements. Additionally, it can determine the potential financial losses and risks if the attackers succeed in their objectives and take advantage of the system and how to lessen those. 

Any organisation or business must prioritise safeguarding its data and information from outside intruders and keeping track of the seriousness of security flaws. The developers can determine the required devices in the budgetary allocation for security issues by determining the priorities.

Unlike manual penetration testing, automated security testing does not dig deeper to find ways to exploit a vulnerability. Instead, it lists the vulnerabilities based on their CVSS score (severity score). A security researcher then scrutinises the results to eliminate false positives. In this way, automated penetration testing reaches its completion.

Automated penetration testing is much faster, more efficient, simple, and reliable because it automatically tests a machine’s vulnerability and risk. In addition, this technology does not require an expert engineer; anyone can operate it with a basic understanding of the subject.

How does automated penetration testing work?

Automated processes are not new in IT security. Pen testing tasks, on the other hand, have remained mainly manual. Although pen test scanning and hacking tools are often automated, the challenge is determining where along the infrastructure border to target them.

It is reasonable to consider pen-testing professionals to be investigators. They collect critical information using tools and procedures to uncover potential security flaws. As a calculated process, it must consider external factors such as business type, network structure, and apps and services available to the public. This time-consuming process can last days, weeks, or months.

Vendors are integrating automated processes into their pen testing solutions. They want to accelerate the probing and analysis process to obtain valuable data. Also, with the advancement of artificial intelligence, it is now possible to duplicate the methods of a manual pen test.

What are the advantages of automated penetration testing?

Tools for automated penetration testing offer an organisation numerous significant advantages. Automated scans are quicker than manual scans, which results in a greater discovery rate of vulnerabilities.

Second, it will take a security analyst a long time to scan and test each system manually. Automated tools can examine thousands of vulnerabilities across a large number of systems.

A third benefit is that your internal team does not have to do tedious work because automated tools handle most of the basic components of an automated penetration test. Instead, they can devote their time to eyeing sophisticated attacks.

Fourthly, penetration testing tools can also significantly impact compliance with particular standards or frameworks.

In theory, experts can do a thorough automated pen test in substantially less time than manual pen tests. Additionally, we can use an automated penetration platform to continuously scan, probe, and analyse a client network with little supervision. It is also possible to automate reports according to the severity of the concerns.

AI has precise processes and procedures that each pen-testing tool must follow when executing scans and assessing results. As a result, the findings of these tests are highly repeatable, with slight variation between them. This trait is desirable in the world of information security, particularly in terms of regulation and compliance.

Automated pen test services are not cheap but often less expensive than human options. There are even techniques to reduce the cost of automated pen tests. We can only realise the cost savings after eliminating the need for highly compensated security personnel to execute tools and undertake high-level outcomes analysis.

AI-powered technologies have mastered this for known security exploits and vulnerabilities.

The effectiveness of automated penetration testing tools in enterprises

Automated pen-testing platform providers and service providers claim that AI can predict what hackers will target. While AI may someday be capable of accomplishing this, many people still consider these systems inferior to traditional, human-based tests.

Nowadays, many businesses require penetration testing to find the greatest systemic vulnerabilities. There are two methods that organisations use to apply the penetration test to find the bugs: one is an automated penetration test, and the other is a manual penetration test. Using a tool that uses patterns to find the vulnerabilities, an automated pen test is the simplest way to identify all of the system’s vulnerabilities. At the same time, the manual test is a method for manually identifying vulnerabilities through system analysis and abnormal behaviour.

The capacity to replicate the human brain to do very complicated and often imaginative jobs is extremely difficult for computing systems initially designed to work in binary mode. However, when looking for known vulnerabilities and exploits within a predetermined set of guidelines regarding novel approaches, routes, or thinking outside the box, automated pen-testing platforms can mimic some tasks a human pen tester carries out.

Security experts can save time using automated pen testing to handle more repetitive tasks. Expect hybrid deployments to combine manual testing with automated pen testing tools. This tactic guarantees that security personnel can examine areas that the computerised platform cannot.


We have emphasised the advantages and characteristics of automatic penetration testing, but we do not discount or oppose manual penetration testing. Here we saw penetration testing leans heavily on manual testing because the automatic alternative’s scope and applicability are still limited. However, the speed and frequency of recent cyberattacks necessitate a quicker pen testing process, which automation offers.

So, automated penetration testing can benefit almost every enterprise if deployed well. And one of the most beneficial aspects of automated pen testing is that it can handle more repetitive and basic tasks, saving up the time of security specialists. Expect automated pen testing tools to be utilised with manual testing in hybrid deployments. The combination still accelerates testing at a lesser cost. Simultaneously, this strategy assures that security personnel study areas where the automated platform cannot. So, adopt these efficient and effective test automation services to double-check security and increase productivity at lesser expenses.

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