Organizations conduct network vulnerability assessments to identify existing network vulnerabilities, missing protective controls, and cybersecurity gaps. The results of such an assessment can help a network administrator in understanding the security posture of their network and implement defensive measures against potential threats and vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability assessments typically involve a network vulnerability scanner tool which can be open-source, closed-source, or a mixture of both.
In this article, we take a look at popular open-source network vulnerability scanning tools.
1.OpenVAS – openvas.org
OpenVAS stands for Open Vulnerability Assessment Scanner. OpenVas is a free, full-featured open-source vulnerability scanner with extensive scan coverage and has been maintained by Greenbone Networks since its first launch in 2009. OpenVAS came into existence after Nessus stopped being an open-source tool and changed to a proprietary tool. Various plugins for OpenVAS are written using the Nessus Attack Scripting Language (NASL). Over 50,000 network vulnerability tests (NVTs) have been conducted on the OpenVAS framework.,
It relies on the client-server architecture where search, storage, and processing operations occur at the server-side. Network administrators, vulnerability scanners, and penetration testers use the client-side to configure scans and view reports. OpenVAS is built for all-in-one scanning and provides search capabilities for more than 185,000 CVEs.
2.OpenSCAP – open-scap.org/
OpenSCAP has multiple components that focus on security tools, policy enforcement, and compliance with standards. It derives its name from the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP). SCAP is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
OpenSCAP is a collection of open-source tools for the implementation of the SCAP standard. One such tool that it features is a vulnerability scanner module. It comes with automated vulnerability scans that minimize the manual workload for the security team.
3. Nmap – nmap.org
Nmap is an open-source network scanning tool for port scanning, service fingerprinting, and identifying operation system versions.
While it is popularly known as a network mapping and port scanning tool, it comes with the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) that can help in the detection of misconfiguration issues and security vulnerabilities. It comes in a command-line interface (CLI) as well as a graphical user interface (GUI).
At the time of writing this article, the latest version of this tool is 7.93.
4. Wireshark – wireshark.org
Wireshark is a real-time network protocol analyzer that continuously scans network traffic for vulnerabilities and suspicious activities. It is available for multiple platforms such as Linux, Windows, and OS X. In recent years, it has become a widely used tool often found in the security tech stack of enterprise and growing organizations alike.
The tool continuously monitors a network’s traffic and converts binary data into a human-readable format with proper data structuring called packet capture (Pcap). Packet capture supports log analysis and log management. With support for 285,000 fields and over 3,000 network protocols, it helps security analysts drill down to the exact traffic they need to monitor for 24/7 network management.
5.Metasploit – metasploit.com
Primarily known as an essential tool for penetration testers for delivering and executing payloads and exploits, Metasploit comes with built-in network scanning capabilities that may be useful for organizations.
Before 2009, the Metasploit Framework (MSF) was available as an open-source tool. After its acquisition by Rapid7, the company introduced MSF as a commercial tool. However, it does have a free version available with limited features called the Community Edition. Premium versions are referred to as the Express Edition and the Pro Edition. The free version comes with an easy-to-use, Java-based graphical user interface.
Using Open-Source Tools for Network Vulnerability Scanning
While open-source tools have their dedicated advantages in terms of cost-effectiveness, free use, and a supportive community, they do not come other features necessary for comprehensive vulnerability scanning. Typically, organizations must hire an independent, certified third party for vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to meet compliance requirements.
In BreachLock’s security testing engagements, our pentesters have reported a high rate of failure using open-source tools to detect vulnerabilities compared to commercially available tools. Defenders, SOC Analysts, and in-house penetration testers should use caution in over-reliance on the findings from open source testing tools. To meet network security and compliance requirements, teams should leverage industry-recognized vulnerability scanning and pentesting tools as much as possible.
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