Scan Modes | Nessus

Nessus provides three types of checks or scan modes:
  • Discovery: This process uses basic discovery protocols such as ICMP echo request/reply and TCP sweeps to identify active hosts on the network. Some products today do not have the ability to simply perform a quick discovery but instead require a full audit. This capability represents a useful tool to narrow unknown network ranges when defining networks in a commercial product. Alternatively, similar functionality can be obtained using the command-line NMAP product.
  • OS fingerprinting: This is performed by a handful of methods that have already been described in this book. Simple malformed packets to legitimate SNMP queries are used to gather involuntary and voluntary information, respectively. These and other methods may not always work, depending on the target. Other vendors may have developed other means to gather this information.
  • Complete scans: This type of scan performs discovery and OS fingerprinting and adds numerous vulnerability checks, including brute-force password attacks. It is subject to all of the same limitations and concerns discussed previously in this chapter.
One other feature worth mentioning about Nessus is the availability of Web application checks. This capability is not available “out of the box” from many vendors. In many cases, one must pay extra for the feature. Nessus provides this without reservation. It requires some configuration to be relevant to the targets, but is certainly worthwhile. The user has the ability to test cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and Common Gateway Interface (CGI) vulnerabilities.
Nessus is a capable product with a greater level of control compared to most other products. However, it lacks the scalability of many commercial offerings because it’s a very centralized approach to scanning. All scans take place from a central location rather than having many physically distributed scanners with a central data-collection point. However, it may be well-suited to many business/IT architectures and quite suitable at a good price point.

Popular Posts