What is the significance of the vulnerability scan

Top 15 paid and free vulnerability scanner tools

A company must be able to identify weak points in its own network. This is especially true for large corporations and organizations that work with sensitive information, such as banks, government agencies, financial institutions, and law firms. But it also applies to healthcare and education: they all belong to industries in which the protection of network data and infrastructure is of the utmost importance. But even smaller companies need to ensure that their data is safe without spending the entire working time of IT professionals and resources. This is why automated vulnerability management tools (VM) are of great help.

So what are the best vulnerability scanners currently available? In this post we want to introduce the most suitable vulnerability scanners, both paid and free open source vulnerability scanners.Spoiler alert:For us, the Network Configuration Manager stands out as the best all-round tool, as it not only provides important information from monitoring, but also offers the option of quickly resolving configuration problems on a large number of devices. The number one choice among free vulnerability scanners is Wireshark, a widely used and popular option for good reason.

No matter how you invest your resources, you should have a basic understanding of network vulnerability management. In this comparison of the scanners you will therefore find an overview of the vulnerability management, which every IT employee should internalize in order to be able to use the scan tool optimally.

Basics of vulnerability management
Common causes of security vulnerabilities
Recognize the risks of the weak points
Methods of vulnerability management
Types of Vulnerability Scanners
What do vulnerability scanners do?
Best paid tools
Best free tools
Vulnerability Monitoring Issues

Basics of vulnerability management

Do you know whether your IT infrastructure is protected? Even if the end users currently have access to files and the network connection is working properly, you should not jump to conclusions about network security. Every network has a vulnerability somewhere that malicious actors could exploit using malware. Your goal should be to minimize these vulnerabilities as much as possible; this is an ongoing task as the network is constantly being used and modified, and security threats are constantly evolving. This is where vulnerability scanning tools come into play.

Vulnerability management is unquestionably complex. The starting point is still there: some people think it makes sense and is sufficient to install virus protection software, which, however, can usually only contain damage. Instead, it is important to take a preventive approach in order to rule out security problems from the outset. Vulnerability scanner software makes all the difference.

A good vulnerability management system can support IT security administrators in the following tasks. We emphasize that the importance of a precise process cannot be overestimated.

  • Identification of weak points -Administrators need to be able to identify security gaps in the network, across workstations, in servers, firewalls and more. This requires automated software to capture as many vulnerabilities as possible. Although very small offices with strong IT resources may find it appropriate to manually manage network security, the time-saving use of automated tools creates significant added value for companies of all sizes.
  • Risk Assessment -Not all vulnerabilities are of the same urgency. Scanning tools can classify and categorize vulnerabilities so administrators can prioritize the most critical issues.
  • Addressing Problems -Once you've identified the biggest issues, fixing them can become challenging. The right tool can help you automate the device provisioning process.
  • Reporting of security vulnerabilities -Even after the weak points have been eliminated, administrators must show that relevant regulations are being adhered to (compliance). Scanning software makes it possible to report on the security status of the network.


What causes security vulnerabilities?

There are countless ways for malicious actors to compromise a network and steal data. There are also typical security vulnerabilities that should be considered. Not all of the network scan tools are capable of addressing all of the numerous relevant vulnerabilities. So, look for vulnerability scanning software that can help you deal with some or all of the threats described below.

  • Network structure -In many business networks the doors are actually open: As soon as the unauthorized user has been able to break in, he has access to all parts of the network. This weak point can be prevented by better network segmentation and improved management of user group privileges.
  • Unknown devices -Unidentified or unmanaged resources on the network are always problematic. It is therefore important to ensure that only approved devices have access to your ports.
  • Account Abuse -Unfortunately, it happens that internal employees sometimes abuse the respective privileges, which leads to intentional or unintentional disclosure of confidential information or to misconfiguration of programs, which then leads to further security gaps. In addition, some administrators allow standard login details, keep user accounts that are no longer in use in the system or assign incorrect permissions: these are security risks of some importance.
  • Web configuration error -In order to be able to guarantee the security of the website applications, you have to constantly watch out for problems such as DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks, HTTP misconfigurations, expired SSL / TLS certificates and unsecured code.
  • Configuration of the safety functions -Managing your security settings and infrastructure can create risks. To avoid weak points, you should carefully look for incorrect configurations of the firewall or the operating system.
  • Third party applications -There are good reasons why Java is hardly used at all anymore. Too many third-party applications create security loopholes, whether it is the design or the type of download and installation. In addition to avoiding such applications, watch out for questionable downloads, unsafe remote desktop sharing software, and software that will soon be withdrawn from the market or will no longer receive support.
  • Lack of updates -A major cause of security problems in the network are fundamental errors in the software and firmware configuration or cases in which the configurations in the network differ widely. Likewise, it is easy to be delayed in updating and applying patches to devices and programs, even when those patches are available. Hackers quickly exploit these vulnerabilities.


Risk assessment of vulnerabilities

Vulnerability scanners often output a long list of risk factors, but administrators are rarely able to effectively eliminate all identified risks immediately - too many resources would simply be required to assess the significance of each individual entry and to be able to address them. Many automated tools rank risks from high to low based on factors such as the length of the presence of the risk in the system and the potential strong or weak impact on the system.

However, administrators should still be able to classify the risks themselves if necessary and know the reasons for the threat assessment in order to be able to address them specifically. Administrators should identify and prioritize the most critical vulnerabilities first. In each case, ask yourself the following questions:

If a malicious actor took advantage of this vulnerability,

  • what impact would this have?
  • would confidential data be at risk?
  • Does this vulnerability make a large part of the network accessible to hackers or only a limited area?

Likewise, the likelihood of a malicious actor taking advantage of the vulnerability should be considered: access to the internal network, as well as physical access, are vulnerabilities in relation to employee actions; However, gaps in the external network give everyone, worldwide, access to company data, which is significantly more dangerous. Also, check the vulnerabilities for false positives - there's no need to waste resources on nonexistent issues.

The aim of evaluating security gaps is to prioritize those vulnerabilities that urgently need to be closed. IT teams rarely have unlimited time or resources to address each and every case. Realistically, you have to deal with the large, destructive cases first, hopefully with automated support from your vulnerability scanner.


Important methods of vulnerability management

Network vulnerability scanning is an important way to prevent security breaches. Vulnerability management tools also cover areas that also cover other vulnerability management methods that provide important insights about the network:

  • Intruder test -So called "pen testing" is basically trying to hack your system before others do. You are thus undertaking a critical examination of your own attack surface (or hiring someone to do the work) by attempting to break in and steal data. This is a very effective approach to vulnerability detection, although time-consuming and potentially costly, so regular manual testing is only a sensible option for larger, financially well-positioned companies.
  • Simulation of violations and attacks -Comparable to “pen testing”, but ongoing, automated and quantifiable. This enables you to ensure that your security measures are effective by regularly testing and validating them. Simulation tools that simulate violations and attacks are relatively new to the market and work differently than vulnerability scanning - on the one hand, they are managed by external teams, which is why choosing a trustworthy provider is important. Because of their accuracy requirements, these simulation tools may disclose confidential data and have an impact on performance.
  • Virus protection monitoring -Virus protection software is popular, but it has limited protection for your network. The software focuses on the detection and removal of malware in the network and can ideally prevent intrusion into the network from the outset. These anti-virus tools are less about managing network vulnerabilities and more about dealing with specific threats such as ransomware, spyware, Trojans and the like.
  • Vulnerability scanner for web applications -Internal networks are not alone in their protection needs. Web application scan tools look for vulnerabilities in the web apps by either simulating attacks or analyzing the backend code. The tools can capture cross-site scripts, SQL injections, path bypasses, unsafe configurations, and more. These tools operate on the same principle as vulnerability scanners.
  • Configuration management -Although many administrators deal with zero-day attacks, misconfigurations and missing patches have been shown to be the major vulnerabilities for dangerous hacker attacks. Many administrators let these risks run for months or years without recognizing or fixing them, even if patches or solutions are available. Scanning for these errors and correcting them helps keep your systems consistent, even as resources change. Such measures are also of crucial importance for compliance.

Types of vulnerability scans and the detection of vulnerabilities

A few words about defining vulnerability scanning: There are several approaches available to administrators preparing their vulnerability scanning strategy. It is highly recommended to try a number of different types of scans as part of the overall security administration, since system tests can determine the starting position well from different perspectives. As mentioned above, they differ significantly in two aspects: location (internal versus external) and range (comprehensive versus limited) of the scan.

  • Internal vs. external -When performing an internal network scan, you should search the local intranet for threats; this allows you to break down the vulnerabilities internally. Administrators should also test their network as logged-in users to see whether trusted users or those with network access have access to the vulnerabilities.
    On the other hand, an external scan has some advantages as it draws up the assessment from the broader Internet perspective, from which many threats from deliberate and / or automated hacks originate. It is also important to scan the network like an intruder would do to see what data would be revealed to unauthorized persons accessing the network.
  • Comprehensive vs. limited -A comprehensive scan reaches almost all types of devices managed on the network, including servers, desktops, virtual machines, laptops, cell phones, printers, containers, firewalls and switches. During this process, the operating systems, installed software, open ports and user account data must be scanned. The scan may also detect unauthorized devices. Ideally, no risks go unnoticed with a comprehensive scan.

However, these scans can sometimes consume a lot of bandwidth and are therefore not suitable for frequent use. Restricted scans deal with specific devices such as workstations or software to provide a specific security profile.


What do vulnerability scanning tools do?

With the myriad of potential threats emerging in networks and web applications, identifying vulnerabilities is an important task for IT administrators. For this purpose, vulnerability scan tools or comparable software programs are used to detect threats and monitor the security of managed devices and apps. Whichever type of network vulnerability scanner you choose, make sure that the tool does some or all of the following, as appropriate:

  • Vulnerability detection -The first step of the vulnerability scan is to identify system vulnerabilities across the network. This requires a tool that detects security gaps and even exploits them while it scans the attack surface. Attempting to hack your own network is a proactive measure to ensure security. Some vulnerability detection scanners are more targeted and can detect missing software patches or firmware updates.
  • Vulnerability classification -The second step is the classification of the weak points in order to prioritize the need for action for the administrators. Vulnerabilities can include package anomalies, missing updates, script errors and much more, and the prioritization of threats is usually based on the combination of the length of their inventory and the calculated risk level. Many tools match identified security issues with updated databases of known risks, including the National Vulnerability Database and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.
  • Implementation of countermeasures -Not all security tools can detect problems and at the same time show administrators the way to automatically correct the problem. Certain VM tools are exclusively concerned with monitoring, leaving it up to the administrator to choose the next step. However, others can address device problems such as configuration errors and potentially reach many devices at the same time, saving administrators hours of work. This form of automated feedback can be very helpful for risk reduction in large networks.


The 10 Best Paid Tools for Vulnerability Scanning and Detection

  1. Network Configuration Manager

If you really want to change your network to prevent security breaches, we recommend SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM).While not strictly a traditional scanner tool, NCM is very efficient at automatically detecting configuration problems in network devices from different vendors and can quickly deploy firmware fixes to tens or hundreds of devices simultaneously.

NCM makes it possible to easily manage those device settings that are known to be vulnerable to vulnerabilities; You can even write your own remediation scripts to make the devices compliant. Since security breaches are often based on configuration errors and missing patches, this is a practical step in preventing attacks and we believe it is a necessary part of any vulnerability management strategy.

When it comes to network vulnerability scanners, NCM is the most beneficial. So it is z. Integrated into the "National Vulnerability Database and the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures" database so that you can identify which Cisco firmware vulnerabilities are highly relevant to security. You also save working time and resources in the administrative area through automated firewall management and insights into the date on which devices were put into operation or when the service ended. NCM also provides critical, reliable reporting capabilities, making it an effective vulnerability management solution. This tool provides you with a complete network inventory, evidence of configuration changes, insights into the current state of compliance, and other messages to help you further improve security.

You can test this tool in its full version for 30 days free of charge with no purchase obligation to see whether NCM suits you. With everything it has to offer, the price is more than reasonable. Another plus is the fact that many SolarWinds® products can be easily integrated so that you can further expand your IT capacities.

  1. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus

The ManageEngine VM software provides important insights through its vulnerability assessment functions. The scan looks for weak points in the devices in the network. The software is also a vulnerability scanner for Windows systems and for some third-party programs and immediately classifies them based on their duration and severity. “ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus” uses an anomaly-based strategy to detect security gaps instead of database comparison.

This vulnerability scanning software offers an attractive range of functions. It will help you keep the virus protection software up to date. But it also helps in detecting software with potential security risks, as well as identifying ports that are being used for suspicious purposes. Configuration problems can also be identified.

A number of management tools have been integrated into the ManageEngine platform, including configuration provision and patch management. Zero-day vulnerabilities can be identified and ready-made scripts can be used to remedy them. Despite the many features, this software is generally easy to use, although it may be too complex for smaller environments. It is provided free of charge for up to 25 computers.

  1. Paessler PRTG

This tool provides thorough infrastructure monitoring that administrators use to keep track of the network, applications, servers, and more. The platform can track changes in the status of devices and notify you of significant changes as unusual activity could indicate an intrusion. It also works with packet sniffing to scan SNMP trap data and port activities.

PRTG is a pure monitoring tool, i. H. it does not provide automated administrative support / problem resolution. The tool, which is free of charge for a maximum of 100 sensors, is also available as a 30-day test version for an unlimited number of sensors, so that you can test the full range of functions.

  1. BeyondTrust Retina Network Security Scanner

The BeyondTrust Retina tool can scan the entire network, web services, containers, databases, virtual environments and even IoT devices. The IoT compatibility and audits of this tool are rarely found in scanner tools. This makes it a great option when you need to manage a large number of devices. At the same time, the tool was designed in such a way that the scan has no effect on system availability or performance. This program matches threats against a vulnerability database instead of relying on anomaly detection.

The focus of the BeyondTrust Retina tool is monitoring, not security management. It is extremely useful and easy to use for understanding your security environment, but for greater coverage you would need to integrate a more expensive enterprise vulnerability management system into the platform.

  1. Rapid7 Nexpose

This helpful, stationary vulnerability management tool provides an adequate introduction to security scans. Nexpose single-handedly takes a risk assessment approach using a 1 to 1000 scale instead of the high-medium-low scale or the 1 to 10 scale. Thanks to these detailed values, the duration of the existence and the frequency of exploitation of the vulnerability can be taken into account. Some users find this great, others see it as too much of a good thing. Nexpose also provides step-by-step instructions for comparing your systems against common policy standards, which can help ensure compliance. While it doesn't necessarily have all of the functionality you need for your management strategy, it has an open API that allows you to integrate the data with other tools.

  1. Tripwire IP360

Tripwire IP360 is a vulnerability scanner for professional use and for Internet networks that can scan all devices and programs across networks, including on-site, in the cloud and in container environments, and also locate previously undetected agents. This tool supports you, the administrator, in automating the elimination of vulnerabilities by classifying risks according to their effects, age and frequency of exploitation. Just like Nexpose, it has an open API that allows you to integrate the vulnerability management functions with other management solutions. All of this makes the IP360 a vulnerability scanner that fulfills many requirements.

  1. ImmuniWeb

The ImmuniWeb platform is based on AI and offers several vulnerability scanning tools such as "ImmuniWeb Continuous" for performing penetration tests to detect security threats and "ImmuniWeb Discovery" for detecting and providing probabilities for hacker attacks depending on the respective resources . It uses machine learning to identify risks quickly and claims not to be false positives. The tool is also based on human intelligence in that test workers check for intruders in the background for accuracy. ImmuniWeb is too expensive and too specific for most organizations, but for some DevOps teams this well-thought-out vulnerability management concept is certainly an option.

  1. Netsparker

If you are particularly interested in web application security, this tool is a good choice. Netsparker delivers proprietary scanning technology that is geared towards eliminating false positives - a great benefit when scaling your reach. In addition, Netsparker was designed for integration into other management systems in order to automate the vulnerability workflow. This internet vulnerability assessment tool focuses on automation and accuracy; it is therefore advisable to try the trial version to see whether this requirement is met. Those who work with this tool include such important agencies as the US Department of Homeland Security.

  1. Acunetix

Again, this is more of a website security scanner than a network scanner. Acunetix prides itself on the ability to detect over 4,500 vulnerabilities in custom, commercial, and open source applications with low levels of false positives. In addition to line of code visibility and detailed reports to help you troubleshoot security issues, you have the ability to configure your workflow in a visually appealing platform as needed. Such a flexible tool can be essential for teams managing websites.

  1. Intruder

This cloud-based vulnerability scanner takes a simplified approach to identifying risks. Intruder checks configurations, detects bugs in web applications, notices when patches are missing and tries to reduce the number of false positives. It is possible to connect to the cloud provider in order to include external IPs and DNS host names in the scan. Some teams will appreciate the ability to be notified via Slack, Jira, and email, while others find the tool too simplistic for really detailed insight. However, the price makes the product attractive.


The 5 Best Free Vulnerability Scanners

  1. Wireshark

This network log analyzer can be useful for certain vulnerability scan tasks. The free Wireshark open source vulnerability scanning tool uses packet sniffing to analyze the data traffic in the network, which makes it easier for administrators to develop suitable countermeasures. When detecting suspicious traffic, it helps you determine whether it was an attack or a bug, as well as classifying the attack and even implementing network protection rules. Thanks to these capacities, Wireshark is a very powerful tool. As is unfortunately often the case with open source vulnerability scanners and freeware in general, Wireshark is not necessarily user-friendly either: Prepare yourself for a lot of work if you want to create a configuration and management of this platform that suits your needs.

  1. Nmap

Nmap is a classic among open source tools and is used by many network administrators for basic manual vulnerability management. This vulnerability management freeware sends packets and reads responses to discover hosts and services across the network. This includes host detection with TCP / ICMP requests, port scans as well as version and operating system detection. Administrators who like to write scripts can also use this tool to initiate more advanced vulnerability detection. Nmap requires a high level of expertise in using the command line because it does not provide an intuitive interface with which scans can be easily performed or the results of which can be easily interpreted. This makes it almost ideal for some IT pros, but most administrators want a more streamlined approach to vulnerability scanning.

  1. OpenVAS

The "Open Vulnerability Assessment System" (OpenVAS) is a software framework made up of various services for vulnerability management. This open source vulnerability scanner has been serviced by Greenbone Networks since 2009. The platform, which was developed as an all-round scanner, incorporates more than 50,000 daily updated vulnerability tests from a security feed. Specially designed for the Linux environment, this toll-free vulnerability scanner is a good option for experienced users who want to perform targeted scans or "pen tests". This tool needs to be learned to install and use, which is precisely why it is not necessarily suitable for most network administrators. Greenbone also offers a paid product with more regular updates, service guarantee and customer support.

  1. Qualys Community Edition

This free, cloud-based service replaces the older “Qualys FreeScan” tool. The Community Edition offers a leaner version of the Qualys cloud platform suitable for small organizations, as it can scan up to 16 internal and three external resources and one URL without limits. It is packed with many functions of the complete tool as the platform pulls information from over three billion vulnerability scans per year. A benefit of the Qualys Community Edition is the ability to browse scan results and write flexible reports. In addition, there is an extremely attractive surface in use.

  1. Burp Suite Community Edition

This free version of the Internet Vulnerability Assessment Tool is also available at enterprise and professional levels. For administrators who prefer to control their web-based vulnerability scanners manually, the “Burp Suite Community Edition” is a qualified competitor. Here you can manage requests and responses (pause and edit), write comments on entries, and even set rules for compliance and replacement in order to apply modified changes. You can also check the rules in detail and gain insight into the site map, view statistical analysis diagrams and access free extensions from the user community. So if you are interested in building the tool for web scanning yourself, Burp is a powerful option at hand for free.


Vulnerability Monitoring Issues

While vulnerability scanning tools are useful, it is important to understand that running these programs can cause problems on your network. For example, scanners interfere with the running code of target devices, which can lead to errors and reboots. Scanners use a lot of bandwidth on some networks and can cause general performance degradation. Because of this, some administrators only run scans outside of business hours to minimize the impact on employees. Certain scanners have even been set up to inherently minimize this impact. For example, some programs contain endpoint agents to pass data to the platform instead of allowing the platform to retrieve this data during a scheduled scan.

Another option is to use adaptive scans, which detect changes in the network, such as a new device, and then immediately scan the new system. Instead of a slower, full scan, section-by-section scans are possible.

Despite the many types of security software tools available, which can sometimes make it difficult to choose, using vulnerability scanning software is an important first step in protecting your network while relieving administrators of some of the manual VM tasks . Try a tool like the Network Configuration Manager from Solarwinds® as a vulnerability scanner and as an all-in-one solution to save time and better implement your strategy of vulnerability detection.

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