vulnerability assessment toolsWith the evolution of technology comes the inevitable threat to the data that is being passed through this technology.  Unfortunately, an impenetrable system has yet to be created and there are vulnerabilities in every part of every software and hardware system currently available.  Operating systems, programs, databases, networks are not full proof.  If you expose any services to the internet, penetration testing is essential to ensure that you are not vulnerable to any threats.  All areas of a network are susceptible to attack when exposed and unfortunately there are people whose job it is to try and find a way to penetrate even the best firewalls and program security.  Now, before you begin to worry if you’re home machine is being loaded with a malicious virus, the good news is that these attacks have decreased and there are tools that you can put in place to prevent or at least identify when you may be vulnerable to an attack.  IT Risk Management is a great way to manage IT risks oftentimes associated with use, ownership, operation and adoption of IT.

Vector Risk management process diagram schemaRisk Management is a process that can be used to identify, assess and prioritize risks.  Once risks are identified processes can be coordinated and planned for in order to reduce, monitor and control the probability and impact of the risks that have been identified.  Knowing what risks you are vulnerable to will help you identify what the best options are to prevent them from accessing and potentially harming your system.  Risk management does not necessarily only have to be used to track down problem areas.  It can also be used by companies to identify the value associated to potentially missed opportunities that a company should consider to enhance their business performance.  Data compression for example, is a way to enhance your SQL servers performance.  If you have been experiencing database issues and have risk management methodology in place it may identify that by using a data compression method you could potentially improve performance.  Join others who want to learn more about data compression in SQL server, how it can improve performance and how to implement it, by joining Understanding Data Compression in SQL Server.

Increased application development has also brought about developers that are willing to share their programs and creations with others through the use of open source code.  Open source companies will share their product as well as the source code behind the product with other developers and program users.  Developers can make changes to the code that they feel may enhance the product and share their enhancements with others.  Open source developers and the open source community simply as that in return for the code, any changes that are made be shared and that none of it be used for personal gain.  The open source world has hundreds of utilities that can be used to help you identify vulnerabilities.  Below you will find a list of some of the best open source vulnerability tools for network assessment.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux totes itself as being the most advanced penetration testing distribution ever.  Kali Linux can be run from a hard disk, CD, or a live USB device and is what took over once BackTrack Linux was phased out.  It was developed by Mati Aharoni and David Kearns and is maintained and funded by Offensive Security Ltd.  It has been designed for digital forensics and digital penetration and is distributed by 32 and 64 bit images.  It features timely security updates (which are necessary in order to keep it up to date), support for the ARM architecture, seamless transitions to newer versions of the product, and offers users a choice of four desktop environments.


Wireshark is an open source and free packet analyzer, which means that it is used for network troubleshooting, data analysis, software and communications protocol development and education.  Wireshark has a graphical front end interface as well as integrated sorting and filtering options which can help you can down on search time (if you know what you are looking for).  Wireshark has a great feature that allows users to put the network interface controllers that support promiscuous mode.  When users enable promiscuous mode the can see all traffic that is visible on that interface, not just the traffic that is addressed to one of the interfaces configured addresses and broadcast/multicast traffic.  It is important to note however, that when capturing with a packet analyzer in promiscuous mode on a port that is on a network switch, not all of the traffic travelling through the switch is being sent through the port on which the capture is being performed which means that capturing in promiscuous mode isn’t enough to necessarily see the amount of ‘true’ traffic on the network.  Learn more about how to protect your network by using penetration testing techniques with our  White Hat Hacking course.


Nmap, or network mapper is a security scanner that was developed by Gordon Lyon, a.k.a. Fyodor Vaskovich.  It is used to discover hosts and services on a computer network, in other words it maps the network.  In order to successfully map the network Nmap sends out specially created packets to the specific hosts and read and analyzes its responses.  Nmap was originally developed as a Linux only utility, but was then ported to Microsoft Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, BSD variants which include the MAC operating system, AmigaOS, and SGI IRIX.


Open Vulnerability Assessment System, or NVAS is a vulnerability scanner that was forked from the last free version of the Nessus tool after it became proprietary, meaning that you could no longer download and run it for free.  Keep your network safe, learn more about how to monitor the data that passes through your network.  Hacking Academy: Monitoring Transmitted Data will teach you how to monitor your network and detect an intrusion.

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