Nessus 3 Tutorial

June 10, 2008 – 9:35 AM

If you’re looking for a vulnerability scanner, chances are you’ve come across a number of expensive commercial products and tools with long lists of features and benefits. Unfortunately, if you’re in the same situation as most of us, you simply don’t have the budget to implement fancy high-priced systems. You might have considered compromising by turning to free tools like nmap. However, you probably saw these tools as a compromise, as their feature sets didn’t quite match the commercial offerings.It’s time that you learn how to use Nessus! This free tool offers a surprisingly robust feature-set and is widely supported by the information security community. It doesn’t take long between the discovery of a new vulnerability and the posting of an updated script for Nessus to detect it. In fact, Nessus takes advantage of the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) architecture that facilitates easy cross-linking between compliant security tools.

The Nessus tool works a little differently than other scanners. Rather than purporting to offer a single, all-encompassing vulnerability database that gets updated regularly, Nessus supports the Nessus Attack Scripting Language (NASL), which allows security professionals to use a simple language to describe individual attacks. Nessus administrators then simply include the NASL descriptions of all desired vulnerabilities to develop their own customized scans.

With the release of Nessus 3 in December 2005, Tenable Network Security Inc., the company behind Nessus, introduced a complete overhaul of the product. The most current version at the time of this writing, Nessus 3.2, was released in March 2008. Nessus is now available for a wide variety of platforms, including Windows, various flavors of Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris and Mac OS X.

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