Sunday, June 16, 2024

Nessus vs. Nmap Vulnerability Scans: Which is Best for You?

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Nessus and Nmap are both well-respected vulnerability scanning solutions. These highly specialized software tools can proactively scan your business environment and also identify and address security vulnerabilities. 

Nessus is developed by Tenable and offers visibility into your internet-connected attack surface. Nmap, or Network Mapper, is also widely used for network discovery and security auditing.

The short take comparison: 

Nessus: Best for businesses looking for a complete vulnerability scanning tool, especially for professional security auditing.

Nmap: Best for organizations looking for a free scanning tool to identify open ports and services and specific vulnerabilities.   

Below we have explored – in-depth – both vulnerability scanning tools to help you decide which will suit your business requirements.

Also see: Best Vulnerability Scanning Tools

Nessus vs. Nmap at a Glance

Nessus Nmap
Best for Pricing Starting from $5,888.20 annually Free
Best for Core Features Vulnerability analysis, Security Audit, Sensitive Data Recovery, Asset Profiling Operating System Detection, Visual network maps, NSE scripts for reconnaissance over target network 
Best for Easy of Use Setup administration and extensive design document Information about the victimized system
Best for Accuracy, Reliability & Scalability Intricate Server Security Can quickly adapt to any network condition despite congestion and latency
Best for Support 24/7 technical support via a variety of convenient options like community, phone, and chat Well supported by a vibrant community of developers and users

Nessus vs. Nmap: Portfolio

Nessus is one of the industry’s most trusted vulnerability assessment solutions. It can scan for open ports and detect running services, offering information regarding any potential security vulnerabilities. This web-based application, developed by Tenable, uses different plugins that can work in different environments, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Tenable has been working with the security community for a very long time. It consistently focuses on product innovation and continuously optimizes Nessus to refine the features based on feedback. There are informational alerts to help system administrators. Besides, for every vulnerability discovered, it features a detailed write-up that helps realize the severity and also offers mitigation tips.

Nmap or Network Mapper is an open-source network scanning tool that can rapidly scan networks and detect vulnerabilities. It was created by the American network security expert Gordon Lyon in 1997. It has improved over the years, and many versions of Nmap have been released since then.  

Nmap helps in network discovery and security auditing. Besides, systems and network administrators can also utilize it to monitor host or service uptime, manage service upgrade schedules, network inventory, etc. 

Nessus vs. Nmap: Use Cases

Nessus is considered the Global Gold Standard in vulnerability assessment and extends beyond traditional assets. It also works under secure cloud infrastructure. Broadly, Nessus offers two ranges of solutions, Nessus Expert and Nessus Professional. The Expert range serves well for Developers and SMBs, whereas the Professional range is ideal for Security Practitioners. Both of them offer unlimited IT assessments, configuration assessments, configurable reports, and community support. Nessus Expert also offers On-demand training, External attack surface scanning, and the ability to add domains, along with 500 prebuilt scanning policies. 

Besides, Nessus offers 72,000 CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) which is exceptional. It has better than six sigma scanning accuracy. New vulnerability checks are released frequently. There are pre-built scan templates designed for major vulnerabilities. For real-time visibility, Live Results use existing scan data and identify vulnerabilities. The Grouping feature presents a grouped view of similar vulnerabilities and ease of management. There are more than 700 compliance and configuration templates without any extra cost. 

The Nmap tool is extremely flexible and supports dozens of advanced techniques and port scanning mechanisms. It is powerful enough to scan huge networks with a large number of machines. It is portable and supports most operating systems like Solaris, Linux, Microsoft, Amiga, etc. It offers traditional command line and GUI versions. 

Nmap helps administrators explore their networks; importantly, it is free. Businesses can modify the full source code and redistribute too. It is well documented and available in the form of books, whitepapers, and tutorials that are available in multiple languages. There is also a strong community of developers and users that help in addressing most bug reports and questions.

Top 3 Nmap & Nessus Alternatives

Undoubtedly, Nessus and Nmap are great tools for vulnerability scans, but they may not be perfect for your business needs. Here are the top three alternatives you can explore:

Nessus vs. Nmap: Recognition

Tens of thousands of customers have been relying on Nessus for their business operations. More than a hundred plugins are released every week, and there are a vast array of plugins available. Besides, there are very few defects in scanning, mostly about 0.32 in 1 million scans. It offers the deepest and broadest vulnerability coverage, and its parent company, Tenable, is a 2021 Gartner Representative Vendor in Vulnerability Assessment.

Nmap is critically acclaimed worldwide and has won many awards. It has been featured in several movies, like The Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, the Matrix Reloaded, and more. It was named the Information Security Product of the Year by Linux Journal and Codetalker Digest.

Bottom Line: Nessus vs. Nmap Vulnerability Scans 

Nessus is built for security practitioners and has a wide range of features like pre-built templates, policies, and real-time updates, which makes vulnerability assessments easier. Nmap is also an amazing scanning tool that efficiently scans ports and identifies vulnerabilities. It can also run an internal security assessment that helps in determining the security posture.

Both Nessus and Nmap are extremely reliable options for vulnerability scanning. They have existed in the market for years and improved their features set as per the latest market requirements. Thus, you can choose any one of these top vulnerability scanning tools for your business.

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