You are currently viewing Open-Source Vs. Commercial Vulnerability Management Tools: How a Free Tool Carries Hidden Challenges

Open-Source Vs. Commercial Vulnerability Management Tools: How a Free Tool Carries Hidden Challenges

When vulnerability management started out as a practice 15 years ago, the process was straightforward in function. An IT admin would download non-commercial open-source tools for free, scan his environment for the few disclosed vulnerabilities, and mitigate them manually. The whole process would take months to complete, and that was still okay.

Fast forward to now, vulnerability management scanner is now a full-blown business process with dedicated resources to handle different aspects of the program. Since 2015, the number of vulnerabilities disclosed has always been in the thousands. Each year is setting a new record for the highest number of vulnerabilities disclosed in a year. Cyber-attacks have increased in number and become more common. On top of it, software vulnerabilities are now the leading cause of security breaches worldwide.

If the open-source tools and traditional vulnerability management methods work well, many organizations wouldn’t be affected by ransomware and data theft today. Open-source tools used to work perfectly in the past, and they still do to some extent today. But it comes at a cost.

Limitations of free and open-source vulnerability Scanners

Here are the most common limitations of open source vulnerability scanner tools and the problems associated with them:

1. No dedicated technical support

Lack of timely and dedicated tech support is probably the biggest problem with any open source vulnerability scanner. Open-source scanners are built mainly by developers & testers to develop proofs of concept or automate some of their tasks. These tools have become popular among the community because they are free, and people instantly start using them out of curiosity.

But these developers/testers don’t invest in providing dedicated technical support to their users. Users have to rely on communities to ask questions/problems or fix them themselves. In some cases, the tools even get discontinued altogether. They struggle with numerous bugs and feature limitations making these tools less reliable in the long run. You cannot afford to spend time trying to fix the tool when hundreds of vulnerabilities are lurking around in your environment.

2. Lack of detection comprehensiveness

Many free tools are built to detect only specific vulnerabilities (CVEs). They usually don’t have access to a comprehensive vulnerability database that can detect many publicly disclosed vulnerabilities. They will also show a lot of false positives. Since they’re not developed and tested with the best technology, some networks will have bugs and compatibility errors.

Some tools support only one or a few platforms like Windows or Linux. To implement a vulnerability management scanner for all your devices, you might be forced to configure and maintain many other open-source scanners for your heterogeneous environment. Even though you might get away with no spending, you will lose a lot of time and resources making upgrades and maintaining custom code.

3. Need for integrations for basic functions

Open-source vulnerability scanners can only go so far as to detect vulnerabilities in the network. But they don’t provide any assistance to execute the steps that follow after detection, such as assessment, prioritization, patching, etc. Many security teams choose to manually integrate their open-source or sometimes even paid scanners with prioritization and patching tools to continue the workflow.

Most organizations assume that integrations for vulnerability scanners are a de facto standard because of these limited functions. Data from the vulnerability management scanner is fed into a patching tool to execute the next steps of the vulnerability management program. Setting up integrations increases development and maintenance costs. Instead of focusing on managing risks, teams spend more time integrating, managing and troubleshooting the tools.

Advantages of a dedicated vulnerability management tool

A commercial vulnerability management tool is designed and built with a specific purpose in mind: to help detect a vulnerability and track it to mitigation in the most efficient way. Here are the advantages of a dedicated vulnerability management tool:

1. Dedicated support, good scalability, and intuitive design

A commercial vulnerability management tool provides dedicated technical support for you to resolve issues immediately since time is a crucial factor in vulnerability mitigation. Technical support specialists who know every corner of the tool would be ready to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

Commercial tools are designed for easy expansion and management. The tool comes with a graphical user interface to help you visually understand the exact security posture and make faster and better decisions. As your organization and the number of devices grow, onboarding new devices and handling more vulnerabilities will still be easy.

2. Comprehensive and accurate vulnerability detection

A dedicated vulnerability management tool is more comprehensive in the number of platforms and devices it supports. All risks across your environment are shown in one unified view. With a better idea of your risks, you can derive actionable insights and act on them immediately.

A commercial provider of vulnerability management tools leverages an up-to-date vulnerability database with all the latest security intelligence. The scanner will detect all the latest vulnerabilities when they are disclosed for the first time in public. You can feel safe knowing that the tool reflects an accurate security posture and does not give you a false sense of security.

3. Core functionalities to strengthen the vulnerability management process

After a vulnerability is detected, it needs to be remediated by patching hand-in-hand. In-built patching capabilities in commercial tools simplify and speed up risk mitigation. Instead of feeding the data into another tool, or worse, manually downloading and deploying the patches in each device, you can readily deploy the patches from the same instrument.

Compliance is a core part of a vulnerability management program. Industry and organizational security standards mandate that devices are scanned periodically for vulnerabilities and remediated effectively. Commercial vulnerability management tools can detect and display compliant and non-compliant devices. You can readily generate reports for compliance audits easily.

4. Additional features for practical advantage

After vulnerabilities are detected, the next stage is to assess the risks and prioritize the order of remediation. In many cases, IT admins are left to prioritize the vulnerabilities manually based on CVSS scores and exploitation activity. A well-built commercial vulnerability management tool takes care of this task for them.

All the detected vulnerabilities are smartly prioritized based on their CVSS scores and multiple other factors. IT admins can be innovative in their remediation process by first mitigating critical vulnerabilities and averting security breaches.

The end-to-end vulnerability management tool is here

An ideal vulnerability management tool should let you focus on fighting vulnerabilities and not the tool itself. You should be able to handle the entire workflow starting from detection to mitigation from just one tool.

SanerNow Vulnerability Management is a unified cloud-based tool to handle all your vulnerability management program stages, from scanning to patch deployment. You can:

  • Perform continuous and periodic scans over all endpoints and network devices in under 5 minutes
  • Leverage our homegrown, world’s most significant vulnerability database with 160,000+ security checks
  • Assess and prioritize vulnerabilities based on the exact risk levels to your environment
  • Remediate the detected vulnerabilities with automated and integrated patching

If you’d like to know more about SanerNow, register for a free demo. We’ll show you how your security posture can be strengthened with a unified and improved vulnerability management tool.

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