Network Vulnerability Scanner Features

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What is network vulnerability scanning?

Network vulnerability scanning is the process of identifying weaknesses on a computer, network, or other IT asset that are potential targets for exploitation by threat actors. Scanning your environment for vulnerabilities informs you of your current risk posture, the effectiveness of your security measures, and opportunities to improve your defenses through vulnerability remediation.

Obtaining and deploying a network vulnerability scanner is often the first step in creating a more proactive security program. To face modern attackers, it’s no longer enough to build high walls and wait out a siege; modern security programs have to identify the holes that they could exploit and seal them up before threat actors can take advantage. Network vulnerability scanners let you quickly assess your network for these holes, show you how to prioritize and remediate flaws, and provide a great barometer for the overall success and progress of your security team.

Network scanning tools 

Vulnerability scanning is inclusive of several tools working together to provide maximum visibility and insight across your network. These tools can include: 

  • Endpoint agent: Collect data from endpoints all over your network. A single agent can continuously monitor for vulnerabilities, incidents, and collect log data. 
  • Cloud and virtual infrastructure scanning: Extend visibility beyond physical infrastructure and ensure you're securely configuring everything across the network. 
  • Compliance upkeep: Pre-built scan templates enable out-of-the-box visibility into your organization's compliance with regulatory standards specific to your industry.

The ability to fully scan your network is critical to efficient vulnerability detection and remediation, as well as maintaining a good reputation.

Types of vulnerability scanning

There are many great reasons to continuously perform vulnerability scans across your network, but scans can vary in type. For instance, discovery scans are usually performed quickly and typically focus on system discovery and any TCP/UDP ports that may be open. 

Then there are unauthenticated scans versus authenticated scans. The unauthenticated variety performs detailed enumeration, which can include DNS resolution, operating-system type, and services running. This methodology does not require credentials to perform scans on discovered systems. 

Authenticated scans leverage credentials to log into systems and perform even more specific enumeration. This includes software vulnerabilities, system configuration issues, and benchmarks against regulatory frameworks like CIS, NIST, and more. 

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What are the key features of a network vulnerability scanner?

The key features of a network vulnerability scanner should work together to scan the entirety of your IT infrastructure and identify potential weaknesses that can be exploited. To do so, a scanner should have (at minimum) the following capabilities:

  • Scan scheduling that doesn’t impact availability or performance of your network
  • Comprehensive scanning that’s based off of the most exhaustive list of known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations
  • Adaptability and scalability to your unique network architecture—this extends to your cloud-based and containerized assets
  • Identification of the largest, most critical threats to your environment
  • Prioritization and risk analysis that better informs your strategy for remediating vulnerabilities and reporting on progress

The scan coverage of a network vulnerability scanner is crucial to not want to miss any vulnerabilities left open to attack due to blind spots. This extends to a scanner’s responsiveness to and coverage of zero-day vulnerabilities. Keep this in mind while engaging vendors in the proof-of-concept (POC) process, which brings us to our next point.

The importance of accuracy and efficiency

Every company’s network is different; it’s important to implement a vulnerability scanner that can intelligently scan everything from PCI environments to hospitals with minimal configuration and manual adjustment. This also means that your network vulnerability scanner has to be extremely accurate, with a robust set of vulnerability checks against every major flavor of software and operating system. At times, this also extends to more esoteric systems like SCADA controls.

Most commercial network vulnerability scanners do a good job of keeping up with the latest vulnerability checks; often, what makes or breaks a successful program is what comes next. Network scanning tools enable you to prioritize thousands of vulnerabilities across different types of devices and different segments of your network. This is critical to ensuring that your team is as efficient as possible, since you’ll never have the luxury of fixing every single vulnerability. Once that’s done, you have to get the information to the right people; it’s critical that your network vulnerability scanner has the ability to easily show remediation steps to the people responsible for remediation. Executive level reporting can show management how you’re improving your company’s security over time.

What makes InsightVM and its features ideal for network scanning?

Rapid7 InsightVM is the leading network vulnerability scanner for protecting today’s modern IT environment. So how does InsightVM provide unparalleled visibility into your risk posture, as compared to other scanning solutions?

  • InsightVM integrates with your IT infrastructure to more quickly and efficiently identify changes in your network. This includes, but is not limited to, dynamic asset discovery through DHCP, discovery connections with cloud service providers, and assessment of remote assets with the Insight Agent.
  • InsightVM is the only network vulnerability scanner that can identify your internet-facing assets (both known and unknown) by integrating with Project Sonar, a Rapid7 research project that regularly scans the public internet to gain insights into global exposure to common vulns.
  • InsightVM is also the only network vulnerability scanner that automatically prioritizes vulnerabilities based on a combination of CVSS score, exploitability, malware exposure, and vulnerability age. This helps you weed through thousands of results to focus on the vulnerabilities most likely to be used in an actual attack.
  • InsightVM integrates with over 40 other leading technologies, allowing you to amplify vulnerability scan data into larger security initiatives across the network.
  • InsightVM has customizable reporting and Live Dashboards to make it easy for the right people to get relevant information, whether its detailed remediation reports for your system administrators or custom compliance dashboards for your CISO.

More on network vulnerability scanning with Rapid7

Our network vulnerability scanner, InsightVM, is top-ranked by analysts like Gartner and Forrester and runs on the Insight cloud platform, making it easy to create a vulnerability management scanning program. Whether you’re a small family business or a Fortune 100 company, InsightVM can adapt to your environment. It uses multiple vulnerability checks and credentialed vulnerability scanning to ensure that our results are as accurate as possible across your dynamic and diverse IT environment.

InsightVM is trusted by organizations from major retailers to nuclear power plants and hospitals. Why? It’s designed to easily and accurately identify what assets are being scanned and how to best scan and protect those assets with minimal input from end users.

Not sure if you’re equipped to deploy a network vulnerability scanner yourself? Rapid7 provides deployment services and training to help you set up your entire vulnerability management process from scanning to remediation instruction. You can also let us hop into the driver’s seat with our Managed Vulnerability Management service.

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