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Nessus: The Vulnerability Scanner Essay

689 words - 3 pages

Back in Greek mythology, Nessus was a centaur that was killed by Hercules for trying to kidnap his beautiful wife. As Nessus was dying, he convinced Hercules’s wife to take his poisoned garment to prevent Hercules from ever leaving her. It wasn’t long before Hercules’s wife presented Hercules with Nessus’s garment, poisoning him to die in torment. Today, Nessus is a popular vulnerability scanner that detects security vulnerabilities. It was introduced as an open source project more than 13 years ago and later evolved to a commercial product that is now managed by Tenable Network Security. It is known as one of the best and most widely used vulnerability scanners in the world, due to its rich feature set and profound benefits. If UMUC is looking for a robust, inexpensive vulnerability scanner solution, Nessus 5.2.1 is definitely the way to go.

Since its release in 1998, the Nessus vulnerability scanner has offered a free version for home users; however, the professional version provides vendor support and access to the latest updates. The professional version also offers compliance checks (PCI, NIST or CIS), and virtualization support. The annual professional license fee is about $1,500, which is very affordable when compared to other commercial vulnerability scanners. If UMUC plans to conduct vulnerability assessments on a regular basis, opting for the professional version makes sense, because the free version lags the professional by seven days and does not include advanced features that can be used to look for policy violations and sensitive data, such as social security numbers.

Nessus is an efficient, comprehensive vulnerability scanner that provides less false positives than many other tools currently available in the market. It is capable of finding known and unknown security vulnerabilities by making no assumptions of what services are running on what ports and by exploit vulnerabilities rather than just comparing version numbers of services. Secondly, Nessus thoroughly checks security vulnerabilities to make sure they are patched correctly, saving resources in both employee time as well as lowering the chance that UMUC will have to recover from an...

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