Companies set high budgets to protect their IT assets from cyberattacks and Detect Network Vulnerabilities. However, managers have realized that it is very difficult to foolproof the network completely as new vulnerabilities evolve with time. Realizing that IT security will always remain a top priority, organizations have begun to invest in the latest tools and technologies for counteracting cyber threats. This becomes challenging for small and medium enterprises who might not be able to afford effective tools for this purpose. The following paragraphs will list down a number of free and value-adding IT security software that will help cash-strapped organizations to strengthen their network security
Wireshark is a protocol analyzer or a packet sniffer that checks each and every data packet that is sent over the network. This free tool constantly monitors the network by conducting a deep inspection of every packet to detect network anomalies and security threats. Usually, network components like switches and routers have their own reporting tools that give details about the devices. The key advantage of Wireshark is that the tool summarizes the information about all of the network devices and their associated traffic. The detailed summary report provided by Wireshark serves as a valuable network forensic tool for the administrators. Wireshark is a free and open source software that can be downloaded from the product website.
Nmap is a free network security scanner that builds a network map after scanning the IT network of your organization. Some of the key functions performed by Nmap are host scanning, port scanning, OS detection and version scanning. Besides conducting network audition, Nmap gives information about the open ports on your network. The details about open ports also include the list of vulnerabilities in the system. For example, administrators can use the information to check whether the Windows Firewall configuration that has been set through Group Policy is effective or not. Moreover, one can check the presence of Trojan viruses that are listening to a specific port on the network. Nmap’s efficiency has been further enhanced by its easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) which is named as Zenmap. It is recommended to use Nmap on a frequent basis to close security gaps, because hackers also use this tool to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in a network.
OpenVas is a free security tool that is very similar to commercially available software like Nessus and Metapoilt. It is basically an open source vulnerability scanner and penetration testing software. OpenVas is regarded as a very stable software and has the capability of detecting latest security loopholes in the system. The software provides a dashboard that highlights all the vulnerabilities within the network and the devices affected by them. OpenVas’s advantage over its commercial counterparts is that the software comes with a manager that gets all the inputs from the scanner component of the software. OpenVas comes with multiple scanner and the manager analyzes various inputs to come up with its own report.
Metaspoilt takes the scanning process to a deeper level as it is exclusively used to perform detailed scans for a group of specified IP addresses. Even though it is available on a commercial basis, a community version of Metaspoilt is available for free and has all the features that are available in the commercial version. The software checks vulnerabilities at the application level. Hence, this tool is specifically useful after network scanners and sniffing tools have been used. Metaspoilt is also helpful for developing patches for anti-virus software. Metaspoilt can check if the patch is successful in counteracting a virus that is exploiting vulnerability. Programmers can develop code and test it with Metaspoilt to check if the code is successful in bypassing Metaspoilt. In this way, security experts can test various security threats and improve the tool.
NetStumbler is a widely appreciated wireless network detecting tool that can detect WLANs that use the 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g standards. The free tool scans and lists all the wireless networks in an area along with their individual signal strengths. It will also mention whether the network is secured or open. Administrators can use this tool to check whether the corporate network is properly configured or not. This tool is also used by cyber criminals and is known as ‘war driver’ and is used to scan the wireless networks for loopholes or network entry points in the system.
ThreatFinder is a freeware that detects vulnerabilities by correlating the information in network log files with the threat data that it has in its database. After the analysis is complete, the software sends alerts about various malicious threats and network vulnerabilities. The software provides an interactive threat map that highlights various malicious hosts that are present on the network. This makes it easier to detect and troubleshoot threats.
Aircrack is a tool that not only helps capture packet data in a wireless network, but also tests the strength of a password by launching a brute-force attack to track weak passwords. Aircrack is particularly useful to check password strengths on a network implementing 802.11 WLAN standards. These standards are known to have weak network security due to improper configurations and the use of over-simple passwords. Aircrack scans the traffic and captures the encrypted data. This data is then decrypted to find the passwords. Corrective actions can be taken as per the threats detected. AirCrack was originally designed to work for Linux but now it also runs on Windows, OS X, Solaris, ecommsStation 2, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD.
8. Comodo One
Comodo One offers a free patch management tool that detects and installs software patches on every device on the network. Patch management is a key part in IT systems management. In the past, many cyberattacks have happened because patches were not installed at the right time. Comodo One solves the problem because it ensures that vulnerabilities are eliminated by installing patches before services are disrupted. It is the responsibility of the network administrators to schedule the installation on a regular basis.
The tools discussed in this article serve to arm the IT Security professionals with the necessary techniques to monitor and detect network vulnerabilities at all levels. However, it is important to remember every security tool must be put to use on a continuous basis because hackers are frequently coming up with novel ways to exploit vulnerabilities. Hence, regular scheduling of network security assessment is essential to make the most use of these tools.