Mishaal Khan
Mishaal Khan vCISO, Ethical Hacker, Privacy Consultant, OSINT Investigator

Automated Pentesting: Can Machines Replace Human Hackers?

Automated Pentesting: Can Machines Replace Human Hackers?

Automated pentesting is a new service being offered by a lot of vendors. As more and more companies rely on digital technology for their daily operations, the need for robust security measures has become increasingly important. One of the ways companies are trying to address this issue is by using automated pentesting services. But what is automated pentesting, and can it replace seasoned pentesters?

Automated pentesting is the use of software to simulate an attack on a computer system, network, or web application. The software tries to exploit vulnerabilities in the system and identify potential weaknesses that an attacker could exploit. Automated pentesting is often used to complement traditional manual penetration testing, which involves a human pentester testing a system using a combination of automated tools and manual techniques.

One of the advantages of automated pentesting is its speed and efficiency. Automated tools can scan large systems quickly and identify potential vulnerabilities that might be missed in a manual test. This makes automated pentesting ideal for organizations with large and complex systems that would be too time-consuming and expensive to test manually.

However, automated pentesting has its limitations. While automated tools can identify known vulnerabilities, they may miss new and emerging threats. Some services will run a vulnerability scanner, provide some brute-forcing attacks, and call that automated pentesting. Others will claim to have Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Algorithms conduct various scenarios on the target systems. Also, automated tools cannot replicate a human hacker’s creativity, persistence, and poise. Human hackers use a combination of social engineering, common sense, and technical skills to exploit vulnerabilities in a system. They can also adapt their tactics on the fly based on the system’s response to their attacks.

Automated pentesting services are promising because they go through many layers of the kill chain and probe deep like a hacker would. But it is essential to remember that automated pentesting is not a replacement for manual testing. Automated tools can identify potential vulnerabilities, but human pentesters can provide context and analysis that machines cannot.

As technology advances, automated pentesting will likely become even more sophisticated. But for now, it is best to use automated pentesting as part of a broader security strategy that includes manual testing and other security measures.

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