The most secure organizations conduct continuous, ongoing vulnerability assessments for their networks to identify the existing vulnerabilities. This is where vulnerability scanning tools come in handy. The results of such an assessment can help IT teams in understanding the security posture of their network and mitigate risks and enhance defenses against potential threats.
Many vulnerability assessments and penetration testing services involve a use of network vulnerability scanner tool which can be open-source, commercially licensed, or a mixture of both.
Vulnerability scanning tools are extremely useful for allowing organizations to validate any low-hanging fruit vulnerabilities. Lets look at the Top 3 Open-Source tools for Vulnerability Scanning and the Pros and Cons of each:
3. OpenSCAP – Best for Compliance Testinghttps://www.open-scap.org/
OpenSCAP is an Linux-based, Open-Source vulnerability scanning tool with strong focus on compliance testing, security tool validation, and policy enforcement. It derives its name from the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP), which is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
OpenSCAP is a collection of open-source tools to support web applications, network infrastructure, databases, hosts, but does have an automated vulnerability scanner module. The biggest difference with OpenSCAP is that they test against the SCAP standard, rather than the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) standard.
|Fast discovery of security vulnerabilities with remediation steps||Difficult to learn in comparison to the other tools listed here|
|Mixture of security vulnerability and compliance network scanning||Many other tools besides the vulnerability scanner that may not be needed|
|Ability to scan docker container images||Doesn’t follow conventional CVEs standard|
2. OpenVAS – Best for General Network Scanninghttps://www.openvas.org/
Open Vulnerability Assessment Scanner or OpenVAS is a full-featured, open-source vulnerability scanner with extensive, large-scale scan coverage. By utilizing the last available open source code for Nessus before they shifted to a proprietary enterprise tool, Greenbone Networks developed OpenVAS. Various plugins for OpenVAS are written using the Nessus Attack Scripting Language (NASL).
OpenVAS maintains high performance all-in-one scanning for network vulnerability tests on endpoints, hosts, networks, and environments. The extensive database of CVEs that OpenVAS searches through allows for thorough insights on any network security issues.
|Covers many CVEs with proper remediation steps||Requires prior knowledge on vulnerabity assessment tools and Cybersecurity expertise|
|Regularly updated and maintained scan database and tools||Excessive use of concurrent scans can crash the tool|
|Backed by large community for support||Limited capabilities from the Community Edition|
1. Nmap – Best for Port Scanning and Validationhttps://nmap.org/
Nmap is an lightweight, quick, and effective open-source network scanning tool for port scanning, service fingerprinting, and identifying operation system versions. The Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) allows Penetration Testers and IT teams to detect security network vulnerabilities and service misconfigurations.
Nmap uses IP packets to scan device ports and determine what is available on the given assets under inspection. Within every asset scanned has hosts, services, versions, and operating systems to be discovered. Nmap also works well when combined with other vulnerability scanning tools to provide validation on identified vulnerabilities.
|Fast and reliable port scanner that can determine running services, protocols, applications, and versions.||Not beginner friendly – Requires experience in the cybersecurity field and IT knowledge|
|Proprietary scripts allow for further vulnerability assessment capabilities||Not entirely all-in-one solution to vulnerability assessments and management|
|Great synergy with other vulnerability assessment tools to aid in validation||Lack of formal support|
After researching various Open-Source vulnerability scanning tools, we looked for certain criteria based on the following factors:
- Quick, effective, reliability for vulnerability scans and assessments
- Performance comparison to enterprise, commercially licensed tools
- Strong support and community with feedback
- Realistic and useful tools used by Penetration Testers, IT teams, and Cybersecurity professionals, and industry professionals.
While there are many tools out there for vulnerability scanning, there could be some limitations to entering the space with enterprise-level security tools. Our reasoning for creating this list serves to help and assist anyone looking for free, functional, and top-rated tools to help with vulnerability management, assessment, and scans.
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