What Is a Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment continuously scans networks and applications to identify new and existing security flaws. The assessment provides a ranked list of vulnerabilities with actionable steps for remediation.
Many assessments also provide a checklist to monitor your system between tests and keep security teams proactive.
Vulnerability assessments help prevent unauthorized system access by streamlining the remediation process and providing frequent security insights between more comprehensive penetration tests.
Types of Vulnerability Assessment Tools
Vulnerability assessment tools are based on the type of system they scan and can provide a detailed look into various vulnerabilities. These automated scans help organizations continuously monitor their networks and ensure their environment complies with industry and government regulations.
Hacker-powered testing uses a combination of automated and manual techniques to scan applications more thoroughly. Ethical hackers are security experts who help organizations discover and remediate vulnerabilities before bad actors exploit them. These hackers use their expertise to find bugs and critical vulnerabilities missed by automated scans. Let’s look at a few different types of vulnerability scanning tools used during an assessment.
Network-Based Vulnerability Scanners
Network-based scanners identify vulnerabilities on both wired and wireless networks, and they include features such as network mapping, protocol analysis, and traffic capture. Network-based scanners map out a network in the early stages of a vulnerability assessment and identify vulnerabilities in services, open-ports, and network infrastructure.
Host-based vulnerability scanners focus on identifying network weaknesses in different host machines, such as servers or workstations. These scanners identify misconfigurations, unpatched systems, and improper permission settings.
Database Scanning Tools
Database vulnerability scanners find weaknesses in database systems and development environments. These scanners discover vulnerabilities in database architecture and identify areas where attackers could inject malicious code to illegally obtain information without permission.
Vulnerability Assessment Tools
Many of the available vulnerability assessment tools are free and open-source, and they offer integration with other security suites or Security Event Information Management (SIEM) systems. Let’s look at a few of the available tools.
Burp Suite Enterprise Edition
Burp Suite offers automated vulnerability scanning tools for internal and external testing. Over 14,000 organizations actively use Burp Suite to automate web vulnerability scanning.
- A large and active community
- Simple interface and user-friendly design
- Supported automated scanning and simulated threat scenarios
- The community (free) edition provides limited features compared to the enterprise edition
Nessus is software that offers in-depth vulnerability scanning through a subscription-based service. Hackers use Nessus to identify misconfigurations, uncover default passwords, and perform vulnerability assessments.
- Affordable when compared to similar tools on the market
- Rank and groups vulnerabilities accurately with little configuration
- Continuously updates the CVE database
- Scanning larger data sets can cumbersome
OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanner. The platform features different scanning options, including network scans, web server scans, and database scans.
- Robust automation capabilities
- User-friendly GUI
- Beginners may find the input method challenging
Intruder.io provides a combination of penetration testing and vulnerability scanning tools. Organizations can use Intruder.io to run single assessments or continuously monitor their environments for threats.
- Easy to configure
- Responsive support
- Offers little in-depth reporting
Web Application Attack and Audit Framework, or w3af, is a free, open-source framework that discovers vulnerabilities and helps ethical hackers exploit them on the application layer. The framework is written entirely in Python and is one of the easier vulnerability tools to use, thanks to its intuitive interface.
- Simple installation in Linux® environments
- Offers less support than paid tools
- Windows® version might be difficult to install
One of the more popular open-source network scanning tools, Network Mapper (Nmap) is a staple among new and experienced hackers. Nmap uses multiple probing and scanning techniques to discover hosts and services on a target network.
- Includes stealth scanning methods to avoid IDS
- Offers GUI functionality through Zenmap
- Is not updated as frequently as paid tools
OpenSCAP is another open-source framework providing cybersecurity tools for Linux platforms. OpenSCAP offers an extensive suite of tools that support scanning on web applications, network infrastructure, databases, and host machines.
- Focuses on automating assessments
- Free and open-source
- Steeper learning curve than similar tools
Recon-ng focuses on the reconnaissance phase of an attack. The framework is free and open-source and supports features like banner grabbing, port scanning, and DNS lookups. Recon-ng also delivers access to the Shodan search engine.
- Integrates directly with Shodan
- Highly detailed and customizable
- Simple syntax is easy to learn
- No GUI—CLI tool only
Hacker-Powered Assessments vs. Vulnerability Assessments
HackerOne Assessments leverage hacker expertise to provide in-depth and on-demand vulnerability assessments. Traditional assessments use automated scans that often miss complex vulnerabilities. HackerOne Assessments tailor assessments across web, mobile, network, and APIs, and our web assessments include securing AWS applications. We protect your environment to help secure AWS cloud configurations, application security, and balance risk with time-to-market.
Standard vulnerability assessments highlight critical bugs but fail to create a seamless experience from discovery to remediation. HackerOne Assessments make remediation a part of your workflow through platform integrations and customizable alerts.
When developers deploy a patch, they’ll have the option to request a retest. Retesting is a manual process where the hacker will attempt to find the same vulnerability post-patching. Retests are a quick way for developers to receive validation that their patch is working as intended.
How HackerOne Can Help
HackerOne Assessments provide on-demand, continuous security testing for your organization including new capabilities for AWS customers including AWS Certified hackers, HackerOne Assessments: Application for Pentest, and AWS Security Hub. The platform allows you to track progress through the kickoff, discovery, testing, retesting, and remediation phases of an engagement. Whether you’re looking to meet regulatory standards, launch a product, or prove compliance, we’ll help your security teams find and close flaws before cybercriminals exploit them.
HackerOne delivers access to the world’s largest and most diverse community of hackers in the world. Contact us to learn how you can start leveraging hacker-powered security today.