17-18 November I was at the great event —Zero Nights security conference in Moscow. For the first time as a speaker. Being a part of such famous and prestigious security event was very exciting. There were three of us, Ekaterina Pukhareva, Alex Smirnoff and me, and only 20 minutes available for all. I was talking mainly about VM solution problems and custom reporting/ticketing, Ekaterina shared some experience in using Tenable SecurityCenter for Vulnerability and Compliance management, and Alex was talking mainly about Asset and Risk Management.
Presentation was recorded and some time later video will be available on YouTube. However, I suppose audio will be only in Russian not earlier than February 2017. So I think it will be a much more useful to share some points of the presentation right now. Lucky here I don’t have any time restrictions. =)
The first thing to say about Vulnerability Scanners and Vulnerability Management product is that there are plenty of them. On this picture I mentioned some of the products/vendors.
In my opinion, quality of knowledge base is the most important characteristic of Vulnerability Management (VM) product. Maybe it’s because I have spent significant amount of time making different security content for vulnerability scanners and this is some form of professional deformation. 🙂 The fact is that nowadays we have dozens of VM solutions on the market, which have very different knowledge bases and thus different abilities for detecting vulnerabilities. And really nobody talk about this. I can recommend related post “Tenable doesn’t want to be Tenable anymore” and especially HD Moore’s comment to that post. It describes the reason why nobody interested now in quality of detection. Maximum what we, end-users, can hear from the vendor about it’s knowledge base is an amount of vulnerability checks: 40000-80000 and approximate list of supported systems. There is a massive false belief that detection quality of the products is approximately the same and it’s better talk about dashboards, reports, SIEM-like capabilities. To demonstrate that the difference actually exists I made a pretty primitive comparison of Nessus and OpenVAS knowledge bases.
Why I call this comparison fast and primitive? I don’t define the structure of KBs for this product and don’t carefully map one nasl script to another. I suppose it may be a theme for another posts. Instead I am looking at the CVE links. If two scanners detect can the same vulnerabilities, they should have the same CVE links in all the NASL scripts, right? In reality we have a great difference between the products and more than a half of the CVEs can’t be detected by using both of them.
All CVEs: 80196
OpenVAS CVE links: 29240
Nessus CVE links: 35032
OpenVAS vs. Nessus: 3787;25453;9579
Today I would like to write about Qualys agent-based VM scanning. Agent-based scanning is a relatively new trend among VM vendors. At the beginning of Vulnerability Assessment, there was a prevailing view that the agentless scanning is more convenient for the users: you do not need to install anything on the host, just get credentials and you are ready to scan.
However, time passed and it now appears that installing agents on all hosts, where it is technically possible, may be easier, than managing credentials for authenticated scanning. Don’t forget the fact that almost all agentless scanning solutions require scanning account with root/admin privileges, and it’s not an easy task to minimize permissions of this accounts while keeping all functional capabilities of the scanner.
In recent years almost all major VM vendors who previously were promoting agentless scanning have also proposed agent-based solutions.
The main purposes of these solutions are:
scan devices that periodically connect to the enterprise network and it’s hard to catch them with traditional active scan (for example, laptop);
scan business critical hosts for which it is impossible to get scanning credentials.
VM vendors have taken different approaches for agent-based scanning. For example, Tenable agents are technically very similar to Nessus installations without web interface (read more at “Nessus Manager and Agents“), limited to can scan only the localhost. This seems reasonable, because historically Nessus scanner is available for many platforms, including Windows, Linux, MacOS. Qualys chose other way. They made minimalistic agents for data gathering, processing it on the remote servers. This is also fits well in Qualys cloud concept.
As I wrote earlier in “Qualys Vulnerability Management GUI and API“, Qualys working hard to make their web interface easier for beginners. When you go to CA (Cloud Agents) tab, the first thing you see is a user-friendly interface for quick start.
SecPod Technologies is an information security products company located in Bangalore, India. They are also known as top OVAL Contributor and NVT vendorfor OpenVAS. Besides the products designed for a big enterprises (vulnerability scanner Saner Business and threat intelligence platform Ancor), they have either vulnerability and compliance management solution for personal use – Saner Personal. And personal means that this scanner will scan only localhost. It’s free, SCAP-compatible, it has remediation capabilities. And it works. =)
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