Security Audit

External Vulnerability Scanner [Astra Pentest]: Features And Factors

Updated on: September 20, 2022

External Vulnerability Scanner [Astra Pentest]: Features And Factors

Article Summary

This article discusses the features to look for in a good external vulnerability scanner and the features of the best one, Astra Pentest.

External Vulnerability Scanner

The first quarter of 2022 alone saw more than 8000 new external vulnerabilities according to the NVD. Such worrisome stats are motivating organizations to invest readily in a good external vulnerability scanner to save themselves from weaknesses and flaws in security that would make them susceptible to attacks. 

Some of the features to look for in a good external vulnerability scanner include:

  • Thorough vulnerability detection
  • Detection of business logic errors 
  • Assurance of zero false positives
  • Detailed reports
  • Assistance with remediation
  • Possibility of CI/CD integrations
  • Customizable scans and packages.

Astra Pentest offers these, and then some more in terms of features, making it the true one-stop destination for all your external vulnerability scanning needs!  

Introduction

An external vulnerability scanner can help you analyze your public-facing security from the perspective of outside or a hacker. This can help you find vulnerabilities and flaws that would have been missed by an internal scan thus making it more comprehensive and hacker-like in its process. 

Let us take a deeper look at the best external vulnerability scanner for you, the features of a good scanner, the differences, the steps, and finally the factors that affect the cost of an external vulnerability scanner! 

Astra Pentest: The Perfect External Vulnerability Scanner

Let us tell you why Astra Pentest is the perfect external vulnerability scanning solution for you through its features:

1. Cost

Astra Pentest offers highly competitive and customizable prices for its vulnerability scanner that is not limited just to web applications alone but is available for APIs, cloud infrastructure, and even mobile applications. 

Astra Pentest prices vary from $99 per month to $4,500 yearly for the fully comprehensive package. 

Scanner: $99 per month

Expert: $199 per month

Pentest: $4,500 yearly

2. Compliance

Astra offers compliance-specific scans that can help your organization achieve and maintain the compliances it requires in a completely hassle-free manner.  It conducts compliance checks for GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, and SOC2

Astra has a dashboard that is devoted to compliance where you can choose the compliance you want to scan for based on which the scan detects any and every non-compliance that needs to be remedied. 

The remediation process is assisted with the help of a specific compliance report, which details all areas of non-compliance and vulnerabilities found that need to be addressed and fixed on priority. 

3. Comprehensive Scanner

Astra Pentest offers a robust scanner capable of running more than 3000 tests to identify vulnerabilities based on a large database of vulnerabilities compiled from known CVEs, OWASP Top 10, SANS 25, and even based on intel. 

It is also capable of scanning behind logins as well as detecting business logic errors. This scanner offers zero false positive assurance through vetted scans where results are double-checked and verified by expert pentesters to weed out any false positives. 

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4. CI/CD Integration

Astra helps your organization move from DevOps to DevSecOps giving more priority to security as required. Astra Pentest vulnerability scanner can be integrated into every step of a project’s development thereby allowing the detection of vulnerabilities before a flawed product is released. 

It allows integrations with various platforms like GitHub, GitLab, Slack, and JIRA, where one can sync and track progress, and flag vulnerabilities. 

5. Regular Pentest

Astra is capable of providing continuous pentests to assess an organization’s security posture on a regular basis. Based on the initial scope and the needs of the target organization, Astra deploys its automated scanner or enlists its own pentesting team to find the security flaws of the organization.

6. Certificate

Astra goes a step further by providing the customers with a pentest certificate upon the completion of a successful pentest, followed by resolution of found vulnerabilities and lastly a rescan to ensure that there are no new vulnerabilities. 

This certificate is publicly verifiable and can be put on one’s website to boost sales and promote security-conscious approach. 

7. Customer Service

Astra boasts 24*7 customer service through email, chats, and even calls if necessary with the help of the expert pentesters on the team. The dashboard also provides a comment option under each vulnerability for immediate doubt clearance. 

Once vulnerability scanning with Astra is complete Astra also provides detailed steps for remediation based on risk prioritization. This is done with the aid of POC videos and collaboration within the vulnerability dashboard.

8. Gap Analysis

Doubtful as to what exact services you require? Astra’s got it covered with its option of gap analysis, which is a scan that aims at detecting the gaps in security if any. Based on the results from this one can decide whether they need a vulnerability assessment or a penetration test for a more in-depth analysis. 

9. Zero False Positives

Zero false positives are a sure thing with Astra’s thorough vetting which is done by expert network pentesters based on the automated pentest results obtained. This double checking, therefore, ensures that the customers don’t have to worry about any false positive vulnerability detection. 

Features Of A Good External Scanner

1. Comprehensive Vulnerability Detection

The tool should continuously monitor and scan assets to find any hidden or new vulnerabilities that could have risen. It is also important that these scans be conducted every time an application is updated, a new feature is added or some other form of change is made. 

2. Business Logic Error Detection

Business logic error detection can help organizations find any flaws in the processes being carried out that might be affecting the revenue. These aren’t exactly vulnerabilities but rather errors that could affect the organization’s workflow. 

3. Zero False Positives

Another feature of note with a good network penetration testing company is their assurance of zero false positives. Check if they provide thorough expert vetting of automated pentest results to avoid any false positives in the report.

4. Elaborate Reports

Elaborate reports are an essential feature of a good vulnerability scanner as it helps customers make fixes based on risk priority as this with the detailed steps for patching each vulnerability will be mentioned within the report along with the CVSS scores for them. 

5. Remediation Assistance

They should be able to provide expert assistance with vulnerability remediation for your organization’s security. This includes providing POC videos, immediate query clearance, and providing detailed steps within the vulnerability scanning report.

6. CI/CD Integrations

Integrations should be available with various forums to ensure that your organization’s projects, be it on any platform are safe from vulnerabilities at every stage of their development. This helps your organization to move from DevOps to DevSecOps thus giving more priority to security.  

7. Customizable

A good external vulnerability scanner should provide services that are customizable according to the needs of the customer and focus on areas required by them. 

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Differences Between Internal and External Vulnerability Assessment

An internal vulnerability assessment is conducted in-house by an organization. With this type of assessment, they test out all the access and authorization available internally. An internal vulnerability assessment differs greatly from an external one in terms of target, perspective, and benefits of doing each. 

An external vulnerability assessment is performed out of an organization’s network with limited or zero information. It mainly looks for gaps in security from the perspective of a hacker to try and find exploitable ones. It also tests the external network and IP addresses for signs of weaknesses that could pose a threat to security. 

An internal vulnerability assessment simulates the behavior and patterns of someone with standard access and privileges to the systems that need to be tested. This can help find business logic errors and other flaws in configurations. 

An external vulnerability assessment is done to assess the security posture of external public-facing systems. It identifies new threats and weaknesses in the public side of your online presence. 

Steps In An External Vulnerability Scan

This section mentions in detail the steps followed by an external vulnerability scanner or scanning team once the scope of the assessment has been fixed and the targets decided on. 

1. Vulnerability Identification

The initial step after a thorough scoping is to find out all the information one can about the target through passive and active means. Once this is done, all found information is used to make the scan more thorough. 

The external vulnerability scanner combs through all the target assets focusing on certain areas based on the information received and identify vulnerabilities by matching them to the vulnerability database. 

2. Risk Evaluation

The vulnerabilities identified are then evaluated for the damages they could cause if it was used by a malicious attacker to breach security. These risk scores are actionable and can help the customers prioritize the vulnerabilities that need to be addressed immediately over those that are less concerning. 

It also categorizes them based on the CVSS score which refers to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System which is a free standard for assessing the criticality of vulnerabilities based on which they are given numerical values. 1 is the lowest CVSS score and threat level whereas 10 refers to the most critical vulnerabilities. 

3. Reporting

Once the risk evaluation is complete, a thorough, detailed report is generated by the external vulnerability scanner. This report mentions all the crucial details like the scope and rules of engagement, as an executive summary but most importantly, a list of all the vulnerabilities detected. 

The list does not mention the vulnerabilities found, but also their CVSS scores, actionable risk scores, and step-by-step remediation measures to fix the vulnerabilities.

4. Remediation

Once the report is handed over to the customer, their development team can get to fixing the vulnerabilities based on the easy remediation guide provided by the vulnerability scanner. Along with this, an expert team from the scanner can collaborate with the development team to help make the patching process much faster and more efficient. 

Factors Affecting Cost Of External Vulnerability Scanner

  • Features Offered

Does the external vulnerability scanner offer features like scans behind logins, zero false positive assurance, and or remediation assistance? Features like these may ultimately increase the cost of the vulnerability scanner you are looking to hire. 

  • Customer Requirements

What are your requirements and reasons for conducting an external vulnerability scan? Based on the type of tests and scans you require, the scan package would have to be amended which would result in price variation.

  • Experience

How experienced are the external vulnerability scanner providers you have shortlisted? The years of experience and field of experience of each tool can greatly affect the prices offered by them. Generally, it’s competitive, but this remains a cost-influencing factor that indicates the efficiency of its services. 

  • Customer Service

If they provide a well-rounded end-to-end customer service experience it is likely that a lot of manpower and time goes into it. This in turn means that customer service will affect the pricing of an external vulnerability scanner to a certain extent. But with customer service being such a crucial element of vulnerability identification, doubt clearance, and remediation, it’s definitely worth the variation. 

  • Reporting

How detailed are the reports given by the external vulnerability scanner? This is yet another factor that determines the cost of an external vulnerability scanner. The more elucidated, elaborate, well-explained, and easy-to-follow a report is, the more it has affected the price range. 

Some features are essential and therefore will always continuously affect the price range of an external vulnerability scanner like reports, features offered, and customer service.   

Conclusion

This article elucidates Astra Pentest as the best external vulnerability scanner. It also explains the top features to look for in a good scanner, the differences between internal and external vulnerability scanners as well as the steps involved for external vulnerability scanners. 

Lastly, this article explains the factors that influence the pricing of external vulnerability scanning tools so that you can be aware of how to make the right choice for you! 

FAQs

What is an external vulnerability scan?

An external vulnerability scan scans the front-facing network and web applications from an outside perspective to find vulnerabilities or weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers.

What are some of the best open-source external vulnerability scanners?

Some of the best open-source external vulnerability scanners include Nikto, OpenVAS, and W3AF.

What is the price range of a good external vulnerability scanner?

A good external vulnerability scanner like Astra Pentest provides affordable customizable prices that vary from $99 per month to $4500 for a fully inclusive package.

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Nivedita James

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.
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