This article gives you a solid grasp of the basics of vulnerability scanning. It helps you determine what kind of vulnerability scanning services are good for you. You get an idea of the process that goes into it. And of course, you get a list of hand-picked vulnerability scanning tools and services.
Security breaches exposed 36 billion records in the first half of 2020. The time frame matches the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the all-pervasive movement toward digital transformation. The normalization of remote work and hyper usage of SaaS applications has bred a lot of volatility in the cyber-security space. Vulnerabilities emerge and evolve faster than ever.
Small and mid-size businesses are targeted with mass attacks. Overall the situation is quite bleak for businesses trying to embrace the benefits of digital transformation and cloud computing.
Vulnerability scanning services can become a very effective solution for organizations struggling to keep a handle on their security. In this post, we will discuss various aspects of vulnerability scanning. We will talk about some common security issues, discuss some best practices, and top it off with a list of vulnerability scanning services you can try.
The best vulnerability scanning services at a glance
|Vulnerability Scanning Services||Key Features|
|Astra's Pentest||3000+ tests, continuous scanning, CI/CD integration, scan behind log-in, zero false positives|
|appknox||Integrates with SLDC, less than 1% false positives, automated device simulation|
|Detectify||Attack surface monitoring, continuous scanning.|
|Acunetix||Scans single page apps and script-heavy sites, detects 7000+ vulnerabilities.|
|Cobalt.IO||PTaaS, rapid find-to-fix cycles, web app and mobile pentest.|
What is a vulnerability in cyber security?
A vulnerability is an exploitable gap in the security of a website, a network, an application, or a physical environment, that can lead to a hack, data theft, denial of service, ransomware attacks, etc.
It is like a bug that can allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive areas and information.
Some common vulnerabilities you should be familiar with
There are certain initiatives like OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) and SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security) that compile lists of the most critical CVEs (Common Vulnerability Enumerations). These lists are compiled based on the severity of a vulnerability and the likeliness of its appearance. Here are some of the most common vulnerabilities that can wreak havoc.
It is a type of code injection where attackers can execute malicious SQL statements that control a web application’s database. This can lead to data loss or alteration, and in some cases, even take over the entire server.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
It is a type of attack where an attacker can inject malicious code into a web page, which is then executed by unsuspecting users who visit the page. This can lead to the theft of sensitive information like cookies, session tokens, etc.
Broken Access Control
It is a type of security flaw that allows unauthorized users to access restricted areas or resources. This can be due to weak passwords, lack of role-based access controls, etc. In a 2021 survey, 94% of applications tested positive for broken access control.
It is a situation where the lack of proper data encryption leads to the exposure of sensitive information.
Most web applications these days are built on top of third-party plugins and components. These plugins can introduce vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.
What is the process of vulnerability scanning?
Vulnerability scanning is the process of probing into a target system with an automated tool to detect security anomalies. The scanner triggers certain responses in the target system and compares those responses with a vulnerability database. It flags the anomalies and categorizes the potential vulnerabilities.
The process usually involves four steps:
Discovery: In this step, all the systems and devices connected to the network are identified. This includes routers, switches, firewalls, servers, workstations, etc.
Scanning: In this step, the identified systems and devices are scanned for vulnerabilities. This is usually done using automated tools that check for known CVEs.
Analysis: In this step, the results of the scan are analyzed to identify which vulnerabilities are most critical and need to be addressed first.
Reporting: In this step, a report is generated that includes all the findings of the scan. This report is then used to plan and implement remediation measures.
The anatomy of a vulnerability scanning report
The vulnerability scanning report documents all the vulnerabilities that are detected during the scan along with the details of the test cases used for the scan.
- It categorizes the vulnerabilities according to their CVSS scores
- Assigns risk scores to them based on their general and situational severity
- Recommends steps for fixing the vulnerabilities.
What are the benefits of opting for vulnerability scanning services?
First of all, when we say vulnerability scanning services, we mean both a vulnerability scanning tool and the human support that may be necessary to make the most of that tool.
For instance, if you buy a vulnerability scanning tool, you might need help integrating it with your CI/CD pipeline. Or, when you get your first vulnerability scan report, you might need a little expert help to go about the remediation process.
Although, the more self-served the vulnerability scanner the better, having vulnerability services handy to clear up small roadblocks is a solid proposition.
- Vulnerability scanning services can help you identify vulnerabilities in your system before attackers do.
- it helps you prioritize remediation efforts by identifying the most critical vulnerabilities first.
- A good scanner lets you run compliance-specific scans and prepare for compliance audits.
- Vulnerability scanning can help you improve your overall security posture.
3 limitations of vulnerability scanning you should be aware of
Vulnerability scanning is a fast, automated, and hassle-free procedure and a wonderful exercise for your organization’s security health. However, it has some limitations.
- Automated vulnerability scanning lacks the human insight of professional security testers who develop excellent instincts for spotting anomalies over years of experience.
- Scanners are not able to detect business logic errors, payment gateway hacks, and a bunch of other critical issues.
- False positives are among the most significant demerits of automated vulnerability scanning. Scanners often flag issues that are nonexistent or not a vulnerability in that particular context. It wastes a lot of the developers’ time who go chasing after these vulnerabilities.
5 vulnerability scanning services you should checkout
Even though the headline reads vulnerability scanning services, this list we are compiling is not limited to just service providers, it features SaaS applications and product-based companies that offer vulnerability scanning tools as well. As we had established earlier, all of these options come with comprehensive customer support.
Apart from the 3000+ tests, and complete coverage of CVEs on the OWASP top 10 and SANS 25, Astra’s Pentest makes the top spot for 4 specific reasons.
- You can optimize their vulnerability scanner for your CMS platform with one click.
- Once you integrate the scanner with your CI/CD pipeline, you can automate scans for all future software updates and free yourself from the anxiety of pushing vulnerability code.
- The vulnerability management dashboard is a joy to use. You can use it to monitor and assign vulnerabilities, keep track of their status, collaborate with Astra’s security expert, and even run compliance-specific scans.
- The pentest suite combines manual and automated security testing. So, while enjoying the speed of an automated scanner you can also utilize their manual pentest offering to get deeper insights, better remediation guidelines, and no false positives.
Astra’s Pentest packs the speed of automated vulnerability scanning with the depth and accuracy of manual penetration testing to offer a comprehensive security testing experience for both web applications and mobile apps.
Also Read: A Complete Guide on VAPT Testing
The key features include
- Continuous testing with CI/CD integration
- Integration with Slack and Jira
- Optimized for your CMS
- Scans behind the logged-in pages
- Scanner rules are updated every week.
The plans and pricing for Astra’s Pentest
|Scanning Plan||Expert Plan||Pentest Plan|
|$99 per month||$199 per month||$399 per month|
|Weekly Vulnerability Scans||Unlimited Vulnerability Scans||Vulnerability Assessment & Pentesting by Security Experts|
|3000+ Tests||Integration with CI/CD Tools||Cloud Security Report|
|Pentest Dashboard, Scan Behind Login||Zero False Positive Assurance||Business Logic Testing|
|Free trial for 7 days||Compliance Reporting||Publicly Verifiable VAPT Certification|
This is a vulnerability scanning tool specifically designed for mobile apps. The company offers a DAST solution and application security consultation.
The DAST scanner by appknox supports more than 30 languages and integrates easily with your GitHub and Jira workflows.
The company offers flexible plans at affordable pricing and provides proactive support to its users.
Detectify offers application scanning and attack-surface monitoring services. It detects vulnerabilities, sends alerts when they are found, and allows you to run vulnerability scans in the software development stage.
It is particularly helpful for monitoring the various attack surfaces that are often difficult to keep track of given the ever-widening usage of third-party apps and SaaS applications.
Acunetix offers you a fast and scalable solution for vulnerability scanning. It focuses on faster results and accurate prioritization of vulnerabilities. It is a largely automated tool that can run scans on multiple environments.
You get pinpoint locations of the vulnerabilities.
False positives are minimized
It works for script-heavy sites and single-page applications.
Cobalt.io is a cloud-based solution that you can use for automated web application security testing. It offers a managed service, which means it will take care of the infrastructure and maintenance while you focus on your business goals.
The company has an impressive clientele that includes Vodafone, Nissan, and Microsoft.
Cobalt.io offers a 14-day free trial so that you can try out the features and decide if it is the right fit for you.
Vulnerability scanning services are only effective when the offerings align well with your goals. It is very important to know what you are looking to get out of the vulnerability assessment process. Your choice of the service provider will likely vary with the end goal. The services that offer the most accurate scan may not be as good for compliance readiness, or the one with the best pricing might not have the full range of services you need.
It is upon you to make the most reasonable choice based on your requirements. You can always talk about your security needs and concerns with the security experts at Astra. We’d love to help.
1. How frequently should we conduct vulnerability scanning?
Quarterly vulnerability scans are recommended for most organizations. However, if you are making significant changes to your application’s code or adding new plugins or appliances, it should be followed by a scan.
2. What is the most important quality in a vulnerability scanner?
It should fit easily in your CI/CD pipeline. Automated continuous scanning should be a hassle free process for you.
3. How is penetration testing different from vulnerability scanning?
Penetration testing attempts to exploit the vulnerabilities to draw deeper insights. It is a more intrusive process in that way.