1.4 Assessment Service Definitions

Most security providers (both service and product companies) offer a number of assessment services branded in a variety of ways. Figure 1-1 shows the key service offerings along with the depth of assessment and relative cost. Each service type can provide varying degrees of security assurance.

Figure 1-1. Different security testing services

Vulnerability scanning uses automated systems (such as ISS Internet Scanner, QualysGuard, or eEye Retina) with minimal hands-on qualification and assessment of vulnerabilities. This is an inexpensive way to ensure that no obvious vulnerabilities exist, but it doesn't provide a clear strategy to improve security.

Network security assessment lies neatly between vulnerability assessment and full-blown penetration testing; it offers an effective blend of tools and hands-on vulnerability testing and qualification by trained analysts. The report is usually hand-written, giving professional advice that can improve a company's security.

Full-blown penetration testing is outside the scope of this book; it involves multiple attack vectors (e.g., telephone war dialing, social engineering, wireless testing, etc.) to compromise the target environment. Instead this book fully demonstrates and discusses the methodologies adopted by determined Internet-based attackers to compromise IP networks remotely, which in turn will allow you to improve IP network security.