5 min read

Security is one of the major concerns while setting up data centers in the cloud. Although firewalls and managed networking components are deployed by most of the organizations for their data centers, they still fear being attacked by intruders. As such, organizations constantly seek tools that can assist them in gauging how vulnerable their network is and how they can secure their applications therein.

Many confuse security assessment with penetration testing and also use it interchangeably. However, there is a notable difference between the two. Security assessment is a process of finding out the different vulnerabilities within a system and prioritize them based on severity and business criticality. On the other hand, penetration testing simulates a real-life attack and maps out paths that a real attacker would take to fulfill the attack. You can check out our article, Top 5 penetration testing tools for ethical hackers to know about some of the pentesting tools.

Plethora of tools in the market exist and every tool claims to be the best. Here is our top 5 list of tools to secure your organization over the network.

Wireshark

Wireshark is one of the popular tools for packet analysis. It is open source under GNU General Public License. Wireshark has a user-friendly GUI  and supports Command Line Input (CLI). It is a great debugging tool for developers who wish to develop a network application. It runs on multiple platforms including Windows, Linux, Solaris, NetBSD, and so on.

WireShark community also hosts SharkFest, launched in 2008, for WireShark developers and the user communities. The main aim of this conference is to support Wireshark development and to educate current and future generations of computer science and IT professionals on how to use this tool to manage, troubleshoot, diagnose, and secure traditional and modern networks.

Some benefits of using this tool include:

  • Wireshark features live real-time traffic analysis and also supports offline analysis.
  • Depending on the platform, one can read live data from Ethernet, PPP/HDLC, USB, IEEE 802.11, Token Ring, and many others.
  • Decryption support for several protocols such as IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2
  • Network captured by this tool can be browsed via a GUI, or via the TTY-mode TShark utility.
  • Wireshark also has the most powerful display filters in whole industry
  • It also provides users with Tshark, a network protocol analyzer, used to analyze packets from the hosts without a UI.

Nmap

Network Mapper, popularly known as Nmap is an open source licensed tool for conducting network discovery and security auditing.  It is also utilized for tasks such as network inventory management, monitoring host or service uptime, and much more. How Nmap works is, it uses raw IP packets in order to find out the available hosts on the network, the services they offer, the OS on which they are operating, the firewall that they are currently using and much more.

Nmap is a quick essential to scan large networks and can also be used to scan single hosts. It runs on all major operating system. It also provides official binary packages for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It also includes

  • Zenmap – An advanced security scanner GUI and a results viewer
  • Ncat – This is a tool used for data transfer, redirection, and debugging.
  • Ndiff – A utility tool for comparing scan results
  • Nping – A packet generation and response analysis tool

Nmap is traditionally a command-line tool run from a Unix shell or Windows Command prompt. This makes Nmap easy for scripting and allows easy sharing of useful commands within the user community. With this, experts do not have to move through different configuration panels and scattered option fields.

Nessus

Nessus, a product of the Tenable.io, is one of the popular vulnerability scanners specifically for UNIX systems. This tool remains constantly updated with 70k+ plugins. Nessus is available in both free and paid versions. The paid version costs around  $2,190 per year, whereas the free version, ‘Nessus Home’ offers limited usage and is licensed only for home network usage.

Customers choose Nessus because

  • It includes simple steps for policy creation and needs just a few clicks for scanning an entire corporate network.
  • It offers vulnerability scanning at a low total cost of ownership (TCO) product
  • One can carry out a quick and accurate scanning with lower false positives.
  • It also has an embedded scripting language for users to write their own plugins and to understand the existing ones.

QualysGuard

QualysGuard is a famous SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) vulnerability management tool. It has a comprehensive vulnerability knowledge base, using which it is able to provide continuous protection against the latest worms and security threats. It proactively monitors all the network access points, due to which security managers can invest less time to research, scan, and fix network vulnerabilities. This helps organizations in avoiding network vulnerabilities before they could be exploited. It provides a detailed technical analysis of the threats via powerful and easy-to-read reports. The detailed report includes the security threat, the consequences faced if the vulnerability is exploited, and also a solution that recommends how the vulnerability can be fixed.

One can get a summary of the overall security with QualysGuard’s executive dashboard. The dashboard displays a number of new, active, and re-opened vulnerabilities. It also displays a graph which showcases vulnerabilities based on severity level.

Get to know more about QualysGuard on its official website.

Core Impact

Core Impact is widely used as a comprehensive tool to assess and test security vulnerability within any organization. It includes a large database of professional exploits and is regularly updated. It assists in cleanly exploiting one machine and later creating an encrypted tunnel through it to exploit other machines.

Core Impact provides a controlled environment to mimic bad attacks. This helps one to secure their network before the occurrence of an actual attack. One interesting feature of Core Impact is that one can fully test their network, irrespective of the length, quickly and efficiently.

These are five popular tools network security professionals use for assessing their networks. However, there are many other tools such as Netsparker, OpenVAS, Nikto, and many more for assessing the security of their network. Every security assessment tool is unique in its own way. However, it all boils down to one’s own expertise and the experience they have, and also the kind of project environment it is used in.

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