Whatever web applications, networks, servers, and systems you use for daily business operations, your network is always vulnerable to threats such as data breaches and other cyberattacks. To help avoid or combat such threats, periodic system scans using vulnerability scanner software can identify existing as well as potential network security risks.
This type of software scans your web applications, networks, systems, and environment and generates reports on identified vulnerabilities, analyzes the associated risk, and flags issues that need immediate attention.
This vulnerability scanner software buyers guide will help you differentiate between the tools on the market, compare features, and pick the right software for your business.
Here is what we’ll cover:
What is vulnerability scanner software?
Vulnerability scanner software helps IT security teams monitor web applications and networks for security threats such as malware, data breaches ransomware attacks, etc. With features including network scanning, vulnerability assessments, and web application security checks, these tools generate reports on security threats and help users prioritize riskier issues.
Vulnerability scanners run point-in-time scans to help identify vulnerabilities such as security threats, missing patches, malware, and misconfigurations. IT security teams can use it to visualize, analyze, and prioritize responses to known vulnerabilities such as poor encryption, lack of a firewall, no endpoint security, etc. These tools' functionality can be customized to reduce risk across all types of applications and networks based on your unique business requirements.
Vulnerability scanner software also helps users build and maintain a database of security vulnerability reports, which can be used to assess overall network security, track progress, and communicate potential risks to employees.
A view of the dashboard in Syxsense (Source)
Common features of vulnerability scanner software
||Assess known vulnerabilities and potential security network threats by analyzing and classifying them based on severity.
||Scan networks and network-accessing assets such as servers and mobile devices to identify security threats and recommend action.
|Web application security
||Identify security threats such as insecure configuration, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting (XSS) within web applications.
||Classify levels of threat based on severity, ease of exploitation, potential damage, and data at risk. Organize responses based on priority.
|Penetration testing (aka pen testing)
||Helps test potential system vulnerabilities by enabling ethical hackers to attempt network hacks and data thievery.
||Track misconfigurations and missing patches to rectify issues and prevent damaging hacks.
||Regulate who can view and use the system by setting permissions and issuing strong passwords.
||Integrate vulnerability management features with other management solutions.
What type of buyer are you?
The right type of vulnerability scanner tool depends on your business requirements, which are often tied to business size:
- Large businesses (over 500 employees): These buyers include large organizations and enterprises that monitor a larger number of employees, systems, and networks. They usually access many applications on multiple devices. Large businesses and those that work with sensitive data (such as in the banking, government, finance, and healthcare sectors) should consider vulnerability assessment software with advanced security features and multi-device support. In addition to basic network monitoring, these buyers need features such as vulnerability assessments, vulnerability/threat prioritization, web application security, real-time alerts/notifications, internet security, access controls/permissions, and API.
- Small and midsize businesses (SMB; up to 500 employees): SMBs use fewer applications, devices, and systems for their day-to-day operations. They often have more limited budgets and smaller IT teams, and are looking to ensure basic IT security for their networks and systems. SMBs that manage large amounts of customer data should consider vulnerability scanner software with features such as web application security and network scanning.
Benefits of vulnerability scanner software
- Identify security weaknesses: Vulnerability scanners help you track and identify security weaknesses in your IT infrastructure by scanning networks, web applications, systems, and environments and generating reports on detected and potential vulnerabilities. Organizations can use these reports to discover and fix security issues to avoid exploitation.
- Define potential risk: Regular vulnerability scanning helps determine the effectiveness of your IT security infrastructure and defines potential risks to help prevent future attacks. Scanning helps you analyze and prioritize vulnerabilities based on the level of risk involved and suggests corrective measures.
- Double-check vulnerabilities: These tools double-check detected vulnerabilities to ensure that there are no false positives and save you from spending resources on non-existent issues.
- Monitor network: These tools scan your networks and network-accessing devices for weaknesses such as viruses and malware. They also identify faulty web applications that might cause data theft.
- Reduce costs associated with data breaches: Periodic vulnerability scans decrease your risk of falling victim to data breaches and cyberattacks, which can bring costly remediation and result in lost customer trust.
Key considerations when selecting vulnerability scanner software
Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when purchasing vulnerability scanner software:
- Security requirements: Determine whether your business requires an external scanning tool to help evaluate threats from the wider internet or whether you need an internal vulnerability scan to run threat detection on your intranet. You can also choose between a comprehensive scanning option or limited scan functionality in which only assets within the network are scanned.
- System compatibility: Since vulnerability scanners provide essential security and support your existing IT infrastructure, ensure that the tool you choose integrates with your other tools, systems, and networks. It should be easy to deploy and reliable, and integrate with various plugins to facilitate multi-device support, web application scanning, and network monitoring.
- Reporting metrics: It's important that whatever vulnerability scanner you choose is able to generate custom, comprehensive reports about scanned networks and any identified vulnerabilities. These features should also help you analyze and categorize any issues based on the degree of risk and exploitability, and recommend corrective measures.
- Pricing and budget: Budget is an important factor to consider when selecting software. Most scanners use a pricing model based on business size, the number of systems covered, type of software, and required features. Establish your budget early on to ensure that your business can afford the right tool.
Note: The application selected in this guide is an example to show a feature in context and is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It has been taken from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.