Security Audit

AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanning: Why Is It Needed?

Updated on: June 2, 2023

AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanning: Why Is It Needed?

The AWS cloud platform is one of the most used cloud platforms in the world. It gives companies a level of flexibility with its myriad of uses but it is not without its own challenges, namely, maintaining security. 

This is where AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning comes in. This article will go into the depths of what AWS EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) is, why it needs to be scanned for vulnerabilities, and what tools can help with the endeavor. 

What Is AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanning? 

AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning refers to the process of systematically analyzing the system packages and programming packages within your AWS EC2 instance for vulnerabilities or any network issues. The vulnerabilities detected in the applications running on AWS can then be mitigated based on their severity. 

What is an AWS EC2 Instance? 

An AWS EC2 instance refers to the virtual servers in Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Compute that are used to run the application on the Amazon Web Services platform. AWS EC2 essentially serves as an unlimited set of virtual machines that allows business subscribers to run applications in the cloud computing environment. 

Amazon ensures to provide various types of instances that are suited to address individual workload requirements through varied computing, storage, memory, and networking capacities. More about the different types of  AWS instances will be discussed in the coming section. 

Different Categories Of AWS EC2 Instances

As mentioned above, different types of AWS EC2 instances exist to cater to the various demands and requirements of users. As such, there are five major types: 

General Purpose 

A general-purpose EC2 is designed to handle varied types of workloads and is optimized to have a larger number of CPU cores, storage, and memory. Major uses for general-purpose EC2 instances are software development and testing for mobiles, gaming, and other larger-build applications. It is a good choice for users who are new to cloud computing or Amazon Web Services. 

Computer Optimized

These instances are optimized to run big data applications that require large amounts of computing power. It delivers cost-effective high performance and provides a fast network, high input, and output. 

Its uses include scientific computing, modeling and simulation, machine learning, and business intelligence among others. 

Memory Optimized

This particular type of EC2 instance uses solid-state drives to provide super-fast data and performance for memory-intensive tasks and applications. Its mainly used for running applications that require more memory than computing power such as big data analytics. 

Accelerated Computing

Accelerated computing EC2 instances use additional hardware like GPUs that provide a way for graphic-intensive applications to run faster with more computing power. It is mainly used for gaming, design work, and rendering new GUIs. 

Storage Optimized

These are EC2 instances that are ideal for an application that requires high input/output performance and can be used for memory-intensive applications as well. It is mainly implemented for data processing and storing. 

Steps In AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanning

Here are the steps one needs to carry out to conduct a successful scan of the AWS EC2 instances.

Choosing an AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanner

The easiest procedure for AWS EC2 security scanning is installing an instance of a virtual vulnerability scanner directly into AWS. You need to choose a scanner that is designed to work within the AWS shared responsibility model. There are vulnerability scanners that run automated scans while maintaining adherence to the policies set by AWS so that you do not end up violating any of the guidelines.

AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scan

Once the AWS EC2 vulnerability scanner is installed and set up, you can run or schedule a scan. It will probe the AWS deployments by referencing a vulnerability database to find vulnerabilities and loopholes in your systems. The scanner will detect errors in code, security misconfiguration, and unpatched codes or software.

Other than these a vulnerability scanner can detect malicious IPs and domains that might be trying to cause harm, issues related to access control, and S3 bucket misconfigurations.  

There are certain tests that AWS does not allow you to run like

  • DDoS attacks or simulations
  • protocol flooding
  • resource request flooding

Vulnerability Report

A good AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning tool gives you a vulnerability report with a list of vulnerabilities indexed according to their risk scores. The risk score is a combination of the CVSS score of a vulnerability and the potential damage it can cause in that particular situation. The risk score should take a vulnerability’s general and situational aspects to make an accurate positioning.

Remediation of Vulnerabilities

You can base your remediation plan on the risk scores associated with vulnerabilities and allocate the resources in a way that does not engage the developers too much and yet manages to cope with the most critical vulnerabilities.

When it comes to fixing the vulnerabilities, you get some recommended steps from the vulnerability scan report itself. If you can also get some help from security experts in terms of reproducing and fixing the issues, the job becomes way easier for your developers.

AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanners To Be Considered

Astra Security

Astra Pentest


  • Scanner Capacity: Unlimited continuous scans
  • Accuracy: Zero false positives
  • Vulnerability Management: Dynamic vulnerability management dashboard 
  • Price: Quote on Request

Detailed Review 

Astra Pentest Platform is a unique penetration testing suite that combines the Astra Vulnerability Scanner with manual pentesting capabilities. 

The company’s efforts towards making the penetration testing platform self-serving are constant and yet they offer 24/7 chat support.

Astra has made visualizing, navigating, and remediating vulnerabilities as simple as running a search on Google.

Astra’s AWS Vulnerability Scanner

The pentest software can also run 3500+ tests covering OWASP top 10 and SANS 25 vulnerabilities. Experts vet the scan results to ensure zero false positives. 

Thanks to Astra’s login recorder plugin, the scanner can run authenticated scans behind login pages without requiring you to reauthenticate it.

Vulnerability Dashboard

The vulnerability management dashboard allows you to stay on top of the vulnerabilities throughout the scanning and remediation process.

AWS Pentesting

The in-depth hacker-style penetration testing by experts reveals business logic errors and other critical vulnerabilities like payment gateway hacks.

Astra Pentest Platform can be used for web app pentest, mobile app pentest, API pentest, and cloud-configuration reviews.

Pentest Reports

The pentest reports by Astra feature video PoCs and step-by-step remediation guidelines to help you take immediate action. The best part is, your developers can engage in contextual collaboration with Astra’s security engineers to resolve difficult issues.

What is best?

  • Connects with your CI/CD pipeline
  • Offers continuous scanning with regularly updated scanner rules
  • Ensures zero false positives
  • Helps with rapid prioritization and remediation of vulnerabilities

What could have been better?

  • It doesn’t offer a free trial yet. 

Let experts find security gaps in your cloud infrastructure

Pen-testing results that comes without a 100 emails, 250 google searches and painstaking PDFs.

AWS Inspector

Screenshot of AWS Inspector landing page


  • Scanner Capacity: AWS only
  • Accuracy: False positives possible
  • Vulnerability Management: No
  • Price: Quote on Request

This automated vulnerability management service helps by performing continuous scans of the automatically detected AWS workloads for vulnerabilities and unintentional exposures. After a few easy steps to enable its services, AWS Inspector can be used across all your AWS accounts. 

Once enabled, it discovers EC2 instances and images within the Amazon ECR (Elastic Container Registry) and starts assessing them for flaws or areas of exposure. It provides a highly contextualized risk score that factors in a lot of criteria through the correlation between CVEs, network accessibility, and exploitability.

What is best? 

  • Proactive identification of security issues. 
  • Easy to use with intuitive UI. 
  • Reports allow the identification and tackling of issues before deployment. 

What could be better?

  • Findings can be difficult to prioritize. 
  • Tool gives out inaccurate false worry warnings. 
  • Glitches in the software. 

Orca Security

orca security website screenshot


  • Scanner Capacity: AWS, Google, Azure
  • Accuracy: False positives possible
  • Vulnerability Management: No
  • Price: Quote on Request

Orca security promotes a new approach to cloud vulnerability scanning called Sidescanning. It replaces the cloud agent and collects data directly from your cloud configuration.

Orca helps you cover vulnerabilities that might have escaped the agent-based vulnerability scanning solutions.

What is best? 

  • Combines all your cloud assets in a single graph
  • It supports more than 40 CIS benchmarks and all major security regulations
  • Makes actionable data easily available to the right teams

What could be better?

  • No upfront pricing provided

Aqua Security

Aqua Security landing page


  • Scanner Capacity: AWS, Google, Azure
  • Accuracy: False positives possible
  • Vulnerability Management: No
  • Price: Quote on Request

Aqua Security provides a cloud-native security platform that you can use to secure your cloud-hosted application. The platform offers a wide range of features including cloud vulnerability scanning, runtime protection, and compliance management.

In addition to that, Aqua Security also offers a cloud agent that you can use to scan your cloud infrastructure for vulnerabilities.

What is best? 

  • Offers a cloud agent for scanning cloud infrastructure
  • Provides runtime protection and compliance management
  • Allows you to generate reports and share them with stakeholders
  • Helps you to track vulnerabilities over time

What could be better?

  • Can be an expensive solution
  • Better suited for larger companies. 

Why Is AWS EC2 Vulnerability Scanning Important? 

AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning is important to organizations for a multitude of reasons: 

  1. Identification of vulnerabilities: Identifying vulnerabilities within the EC2 instances can help in their timely mitigation and avoid any further complications arising from malicious attackers exploiting the vulnerability. 
  2. Mitigating Risks: Conducting EC2 vulnerability scans means being proactive about security and in the detection of risks. This helps in effective risk mitigation with a thorough, prioritized plan in place. 
  3. Meeting Compliance: Organizations of various industries now find it necessary to carry out continuous or regular vulnerability scans to maintain compliance with data security standards, and industry standards such as GDPR, and HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and SOC2.
  4. Protection of sensitive data:  Continuous vulnerability scanning not only reduced the number of vulnerabilities present at a given time but also increases the protection of sensitive data of customers and their applications. 
  5. Patch Identification: Vulnerability scanning of EC2 instances can help discover if appropriate patches are in place and if there are any missing updates of patches required.  

Let experts find security gaps in your cloud infrastructure

Pen-testing results that comes without a 100 emails, 250 google searches and painstaking PDFs.


This article goes in-depth regarding what AWS EC2 instances are, their different types, and why they require AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning. AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning ensures that the instances are free of vulnerabilities and if any arise, they are immediately detected and remediated. Lastly, the article discusses a few AWS EC2 vulnerability scanning tools that can aid in your endeavor to successfully protect your AWS infrastructure at all times. 


Does AWS have a vulnerability scanner? 

AWS does have a vulnerability scanner for EC2 instances called AWS inspector. The tool inspects the system packages and programming languages within the AWS EC2 instance for vulnerabilities or network issues by extracting metadata from it. 

What is the timeline for AWS security testing?

What is the timeline for AWS security testing?

What is the cost of AWS vulnerability scanning?

The cost for vulnerability scanning for AWS can be anywhere between $100 and $500.

Nivedita James Palatty

Nivedita is a technical writer with Astra who has a deep love for knowledge and all things curious in nature. An avid reader at heart she found her calling writing about SEO, robotics, and currently cybersecurity.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Psst! Hi there. We’re Astra.

We make security simple and hassle-free for thousands
of websites and businesses worldwide.

Our suite of security products include a vulnerability scanner, firewall, malware scanner and pentests to protect your site from the evil forces on the internet, even when you sleep.

earth spiders cards bugs spiders

Made with ❤️ in USA France India Germany