Website Vulnerability Scanner – What to Look for in This Essential, Yet Overlooked Security Tool

Website Vulnerability Scanner – What to Look for in This Essential, Yet Overlooked Security Tool

From small businesses to sprawling enterprises, any company that relies on a network system (any modern company) will benefit from a website vulnerability scanner. However, the more complex your network infrastructure, the more the need for a scanner accelerates from “beneficial” to “imperative.” Learn what a website vulnerability scanner does, and what to look for in an ideal program as you choose your security weapons for 2016.

Preparing You for Action

Basically, a website vulnerability scanner is a program that checks systems for weaknesses in an application, and then reports back to you, allowing you to take preventative action. Doing this allows your organization to identify risks before viruses, Trojans, and other attacks take hold, causing great financial and asset damage. After initially looking for active IP addresses, open ports, operating systems, and running applications, automated tools check for vulnerabilities likes SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), HTML injection, LFI (Local File Inclusion), RFI (Request for Information), and misconfiguration of the web server. Once the network and website are mapped, the scanner then identifies the patch level required to fix detected vulnerabilities.

Choosing the Right Tool

When looking for a website vulnerability scanner, you’ll want to consider the following:

  1. Effectiveness, Not Economy – Although low-end tools and open source products might appeal to your budget, be forewarned that some of these cheaper scanners have evolved very little in the past decade, often yielding false-positives and false-negatives. A scanner should contain the highest level of accuracy in its scanning capabilities, and will utilize the most comprehensive vulnerability database in its audits.
  2. Software-Based, Hardware-Based, or Cloud – Although the results of the different scanners are similar, you’ll want to buy the right program for your company. Hardware-based scanners are easily self-maintained, but are much more expensive than the other types and require a complicated installation. Hardware-based are most appropriate for large-scale networks. Software-based scanners require much less administration, are more affordable, and are ideal for smaller organizations. Cloud-based programs are newer and considered the easiest methodology, in which internal scanning is achieved with an easily installed hardware device that connects automatically so you can scan from anywhere in the world, anytime.
  3. Ease of Results Interpretation – Interpreting a scan should be easy. Unless the information presented in a report is clear, the entire program is useless. An effective scanning tool should produce reports that can be easily measured by IT and non-IT people alike, ensuring an improvement in security.
  4. Prioritization – The best scanners prioritize vulnerabilities based on the level of exploitation and severity, often on a scale of 1 to 5, with a 5 being the most critical. This allows users to prioritize action and asset protection based on the reports.
  5. Convenience -- An ideal scanner should be easily deployed with rich comprehensive scans and reporting features. The program should be non-destructive, causing operational impact, and should allow for direct documentation and feedback on remediation efforts. Finally, it should be easy to integrate the program with a third party solution.
  6. Although a scanner isn’t the only security tool you need, the best ones stand alone for helping you proactively protect your network. For more questions about the right website vulnerability scanner for you, contact us today.