In an era where the cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, the role of vulnerability scanners cannot be overstated. But, as we’ve seen, not all scanners are created equal. As most cybersecurity professionals will attest, traditional vulnerability scanners offer an open view into basic vulnerabilities but fall short in supplying comprehensive detection and highlighting what is truly exploitable. There is a big difference between being vulnerable and being exploitable.
With the proliferation of PaaS, IaaS, and commercial SaaS adoption, and an over-reliance on commercial Windows applications and networking services, plus a plethora of various computers, new and antiquated operating systems, commercial and custom-built applications, and lots of devices – some new and some incredibly old, all organizations face a unique set of IT challenges. When under cyberattack, the real, physical ramifications that can affect organizations’ bottom lines are all too clear.
In all organizations, their network and application attack surface has expanded exponentially, broadening what can be attacked and exploited. Even worse, the threat landscape is broadening, and threat actors have elevated their money-making activities like never before seen. As a result, most organizations will attempt to use vulnerability scanners as a way to find where they are most vulnerable. So, let’s first look at the various vulnerability scanner options to understand what they actually deliver – and what they don’t.
Conventional Vulnerability Scanners
Traditional, market leading vulnerability scanners, and free vulnerability scanners, and the scans they can achieve, come in quite a few different categories. For example, there are:
- Network Vulnerability Scanners
- Identify vulnerabilities in networks and systems
- Host Vulnerability Scanners
- Identify vulnerabilities in workstations, servers, and other network hosts supplying visibility into patches and configurations
- Wireless Vulnerability Scanners
- Identify rogue access points and help enforce good wireless security hygiene
- Web Application Vulnerability Scanners
- Identify known and sometimes unknown software vulnerabilities in web-facing commercial and custom applications
- Database Scanners
- Identify weak database implementations and overall security of data storage
- Application Security Testing (AST) Scanners
- This category of scanners includes SAST (static application security testing), DAST (dynamic application security testing, IAST (interactive application security testing), API security scanning solutions, open-source supply chain security solutions, and software composition analysis solutions.
- Identifies software errors at the code level of custom applications and highlights risky open-source packages/libraires that may have vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (XSRF), directory traversal, and other security vulnerabilities like the ones found in the OWASP Top 10 Web Application security risks and OWASP Top 10 API security risks
Depending on the type, the various vulnerability scanners just mentioned initiate vulnerability scans to search for potential weak points in any of the following: source code, compiled software, open-source packages, libraries, networks, web applications, network appliances, wireless access points, databases, cloud services, and even IoT system. Yet, all the vulnerability scanners available today have little to no depth in understanding the underlying cause of what makes a vulnerability truly exploitable in real-world attack scenarios.
In addition, some network-based scanners may collapse under the weight of spending hours (if not days) scanning massive network footprints and expanding cloud implementations. Also, given the tens-of-millions of lines of code in the average modern application, application security scanners can induce long scanning delays. Finally, detecting elusive web application vulnerabilities and other web application vulnerabilities is vastly intensive; therefore, most web vulnerability tests and scanners do not expand their scope beyond basic and/or standard information security testing checks and elementary web application simulated attacks. While there are multiple vulnerability scanners on the market, not all are equipped to handle the complexities of today’s web and code-heavy cyber landscape, or even be highly valued among web application security experts, web security testing experts, and penetration testing experts.
Exploitability is most often the result of exposed code weaknesses, risky deployments, hardware and/or software misconfigurations, human error, weak credentials, credential reuse, inadequate security policies, endemic security issues, poorly deployed security controls, and more. Traditional and modern-day vulnerability scanners do not supply enough information about what is exploitable and lack guidance on how to remediate the issues they discover. Vulnerability scanners also are known to cause vast amounts of mistaken results like false positives, and even worse, false negatives, and the tremendous amount of noise they create in the context of finding too many vulnerabilities does little more than cause repetitive alert fatigue.
One of the greatest failures of total reliance on vulnerability scanners is they simply do not provide the much-needed context about how to change, edit, update, tweak, or fix the risky situations they are supposedly tasked with reducing. Without this vital contextual information, especially about vulnerability severity in terms of exploitability, it becomes a daunting task to streamline vulnerability assessment scanners, vulnerability management programs, and vulnerability mitigation of actual cyber risk.
The NodeZero Advantage
NodeZero, and its autonomous penetration testing approach, delivered as a commercial SaaS platform, is developed to be open to advancements, innovations, features, and functionalities that are centered on the latest attackers’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are, including remote code execution, ransomware, and other methods of exploitation. NodeZero performs continuous vulnerability assessments so security analysts and cybersecurity professionals can measurably reduce computer security and information risk.
NodeZero and its adaptability to scan and test internal, external, on-premises, hybrid-cloud, cloud, filesystems, and databases isn’t just a claim — NodeZero offers a commercial SaaS free trial for organizations to test its prowess firsthand. Users can edit, search, expand, and collapse network sections to be scanned as needed, supplying a tailored experience for autonomous penetration testing that’s lightyears ahead of vulnerability scanning approaches.
While many scanning technologies, approaches, and teams may collapse under the pressure of having systems with missing security patches or overlooking certain easy-to-discover security vulnerabilities, NodeZero emphasizes a holistic, completely open, and understandable view of an organizations’ actual cyber risk. It goes beyond surface scans, undertaking deep vulnerability sweeps to find what is easily exploitable, and offers actionable vulnerability data – including exploit code, attack scripts, proof of exploitability, and even highly detailed remediation guidance.
Horizon3.ai understands the multi-faceted nature of vulnerability management. We acknowledge that vulnerabilities don’t exist in isolation. Instead, they pose a complex risk when they are combined with other network and computer security issues, human oversights, weak credentials, weak security policies, and insufficient security controls which all require teams to have strategic and comprehensive vulnerability management capabilities, and use rigorous, but safe, attack surface identification and attack path detection.
Cybersecurity isn’t merely about deploying tools. It’s about cultivating a security culture. NodeZero allows businesses to take several actions to remediate security vulnerabilities. Customers, industry analysts, MSSPs, MSPs, consulting pentesters, blue teams, red teams, IT Ops, SecOps, large companies, smaller organizations, and many other people and groups have fully recognized the value and ROI of NodeZero, and several cybersecurity white papers, case studies, and testimonials have praised its advanced capabilities.
In today’s digital age, the riskiest vulnerabilities are not always detected by network-based scanners or “unauthenticated” vulnerability scans. Online attacks are intricate, and a simple search and compare for known vulnerabilities and CVEs is not enough. By allowing users to edit, tweak, and adapt their scans to their specific environments and needs, NodeZero ensures that cybersecurity is a dynamic and responsive process. When in the hands of an expert security professional or even an IT security novice, NodeZero becomes a force multiplier, allowing them to become human scalpels, laser focused on real-world security, instead of them feeling like they’re playing a game of whack-a-mole.
NodeZero is the future of comprehensive, and offensive-based cybersecurity. It’s time to move beyond traditional scanners and embrace the future with NodeZero and its autonomous penetration testing capabilities. Protecting against vulnerabilities requires cybersecurity professionals that are not only open to change with modern technologies and approaches, but are also ahead of the cyberthreat curve, and NodeZero is at the forefront of this revolution.