Network security auditing is an essential task for modern enterprises that involves auditing your IT assets and policies. An audit can help expose potential vulnerabilities.
It can also provide you with a high-order overview of the network which can be useful when trying to solve specific problems. Security audits can also give you an understanding of how protected your organization is against known security threats.
In this article, we take a look at the best network security auditing tools including port scanners, vulnerability scanners, patch managers, and more to help you audit your network for security concerns and stop security breaches.
Here is our list of the best network security auditing tools:
- SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager EDITOR’S CHOICE Our top pick for network security auditing. Configuration management tool with vulnerability scanning, reporting, and alerts. Download a 30-day free trial.
- Intruder (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based vulnerability scanner with the monthly scans, on-demand scanning, and the services of a pen-testing team.
- ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus (FREE TRIAL) This package of system security checks sweeps your network and checks for security weaknesses. Runs on Windows and Windows Server.
- N-able RMM (FREE TRIAL) Remote monitoring and management software that includes a risk intelligence module to protect and report on PII.
- Netwrix Auditor Network security auditing software with configuration monitoring, automated alerts, and a Rest API.
- Nessus Free vulnerability assessment tool with over 450 configuration templates and customizable reports.
- Nmap Open-source port scanner and network mapper available as a command-line interface or as a GUI (Zenmap).
- OpenVAS Vulnerability assessment tool for Linux users with regular updates.
- Acunetix A Web application security scanner that can detect over 50,000 network vulnerabilities when integrated with OpenVAS.
- Kaseya VSA RMM software with IT asset discovery, custom dashboards, reports, and automation.
- Spiceworks Inventory Network inventory tool that automatically discovers network devices.
- Network Inventory Advisor inventory scanning tool compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux devices.
- Metasploit Penetration testing tool that allows you to hack into exploits in your network.
Best Network Security Auditing Tools
What should you look for in network security auditing tools?
We reviewed the market for network security auditing tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:
- A mix of automated vulnerability assessors and penetration testing tools
- Full activity logging for data protection standards compliance
- Automated asset discovery a software inventory
- Logfile and device configuration tamper protection
- Nice to have linked patch manager and configuration manager
- A free trial period for cost-free assessment or a free tool
- A system that offers value for money or a free tool that offers complete security sweeps
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is a device configuration and auditing tool that lets you manage the configuration of network devices. You can deploy configurations to devices inside your network. You can also view unauthorized or incorrect configurations.
The Network vulnerability scanning feature monitors the network and automatically deploys firmware updates to outdated devices. Through the dashboard, you can view a range of data on status to view the state of your environment. For example, there is a mixture of lists and graphs detailing everything from Firmware Vulnerabilities to Security Policy Violations, Overall Configuration Changes, and more.
There are also additional features like reports and alerts. The reporting feature enables you to generate audit reports on all network devices. Alerts notify you about configuration changes and provide additional details about the changes and the login ID behind the changes. If a change isn’t desirable then you can rollback to an archive copy.
- Supports vulnerability scanning and lists action steps to correct issues
- Can automatically detect when configuration changes are made or are incorrect based on standards you set
- Can push out firmware updates automatically on a schedule
- Enterprise levels reporting and scalability
- Alerting is flexible, and can be set to notify recipients when configuration changes are made
- Not designed for home users, this is a tooldesigned for businesses environments operated by network professionals
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is one of the top network security auditing tools because it gives you the ability to shut down vulnerabilities throughout your network. Prices start at $3,085 (£2,379.15). You can download a 30-day free trial.
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is one of the top network security auditing tools because it gives you the ability to shut down vulnerabilities throughout your network.
Get a 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/network-configuration-manager
Intruder is a vulnerability scanner that is delivered from the cloud. The basic function of the service performs a monthly scan of each customer’s system and launches intermediate scans if a new threat goes into the service’s threat intelligence database.
When a company signs up for the service and sets up an account, the first task that the tool performs is a full vulnerability check of the entire system. This process repeats every month. Whenever an intruder gets an update to its threat intelligence database, it launches an intermediate scan on all of its customers’ systems, specifically examining the hardware and software that are vulnerable to the newly-discovered exploit.
As it is based in the cloud, the intruder service sees your network as any outside hacker would see it. The sweep covers every single element of IT infrastructure on the customer’s site and also those cloud services that the client uses. A scan covers 9,000 known vulnerabilities, including web application vulnerabilities to tricks such as SQL injection attacks and cross-site scripting.
Thanks to an agent that needs to be installed on the network, the Intruder scan also looks for vulnerabilities to insider threats.
Intruder is paid for by subscription. Customers of the service have the option of three plans: Essential, Pro, and Verified. The Essential plan gets you an automatic monthly scan. The Pro plan gets the monthly scan plus a facility for on-demand vulnerability scanning. The Verified plan includes the services of a human penetration testing team as well as the benefits contained in the Pro plan.
- Sleek, highly visual with an excellent interface
- Can perform schedule vulnerability scans automatically
- Can scan all new devices for vulnerabilities and recommended patches for outdated machines
- Operates in the cloud, no need for an on-premise server
- Can assess vulnerabilities in web applications, databases, and operating systems
- Three-tiered pricing makes Intruder accessible to any size businesses
- While the tool is highly intuitive, it is still can require quite some time to fully explore all of the features of the platform
Scans occur automatically once a month with the Essential plan. On-demand scans aren’t available with that plan, but they are included with the Pro plan. Intruder is available for a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus is a security system that scans a system for weaknesses and documents them and then implements measures to remove them. The system looks at installed software and device settings to indentify weaknesses that hackers are known to exploit. These checks extend to endpoints and network appliances.
The vulnerability scan is a periodic security audit and it provides an automated system check that is more thorough than manual procedures. The sweeps are able to scan through devices running Windows, macOS, and Linux. It will look at the operating system of each device connected to the network and also search through all installed software. It can assess the settings of security tools, such as firewalls and will also audit web services and communication protocol settings to ensure that there are no weak points.
Agents installed on endpoints launch a vulnerability check every 90 minutes. The service includes a subscription to a threat intelligence feed and this gets updated whenever a new vulnerability is discovered. The arrival of a threat discovery triggers a system scan to detect the presence of that vulnerability.
Remediation measures in the tool include a patch manager that automatically detects the availability of software and operating system updates and will roll them out on a schedule. The system will also recommend actions to take in order to close down any loopholes that it discovers during its vulnerability scans.
- Great for proactive scanning and documentation
- Robust reporting can helps show improvements after remediation
- Built to scale, can support large networks
- Flexible – can run on Windows, Linux, and Mac
- Backend threat intelligence is constantly updated with the latest threats and vulnerabilities
- Supports a free version, great for small networks
- The ManageEngine ecosystem is very detailed, requiring time to learn all of its features
Vulnerability Manager Plus is runs on Windows and Windows Server and it is available in three editions: Free, Professional, and Enterprise. The free version is limited to monitoring 25 computers. The Professional edition covers one site and Enterprise edition covers WANs. Both paid systems are offered on a 30-day free trial.
N-able RMM is a cloud-based remote monitoring and risk management tool that enables a central IT department to manage several sites simultaneously. Many businesses need to be able to track the use of data for data security standards compliance and getting data access tracking built-in with a monitoring tool is a great help. N-able RMM has network security auditing tools built-in to get your system compliant to standards such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA.
The remote monitoring and management tools in N-able RMM include PII exposure vulnerability assessments. The usage analysis system included with the RMM enables data managers to identify data usage trends and manage data risk.
The N-able RMM system includes a Risk Intelligence module, which locates all PII and tracks access to it. Ad hoc scans in the package are particularly useful for data security compliance auditors. These include inappropriate permissions discovery and reports on leaked or stolen data.
Other standard maintenance tools in the RMM service help to protect data from accidental loss. For example, the RMM includes a comprehensive backup and restore function.
Digital security features in the bundle include endpoint detection and response to secure desktop devices. Patch management keeps all firmware and operating systems up to data and closes down exploits in software. The N-able RMM service also includes an anti-virus package and a firewall for the entire network and all of its devices.
- Designed for MSPs to provide network security and audit reports
- Can handle large scale multi-tenant businesses with ease
- Dashboard is highly customizable with a number of premade visualizations and widgets
- Can monitor data usage trends to detect data theft and malware
- Built-in backup and recovery
- Designed for MSPs and large businesses, not the best option for small networks and home users
N-able RMM is charged for by subscription and there are no installation fees. You can get a 30-day free trial to check out all of the services in N-able RMM risk-free.
Related post: Network Configuration Management Software
Netwrix Auditor is a network security auditing software that can monitor configuration changes in your environment. Through the dashboard, you can view information on system changes including Action, Who, What, When, and Where. All of the information provides you everything you need to know about the nature of the changes and what happened.
The user can also view the same information about login attempts and port scanning attempts. Failed logins are marked with a red box, which helps you to see immediately if someone is trying to break into your network. You can also view hardware monitoring information on CPU temperature, power supply, and cooling fan status.
An alerts system provides an automated incident response. You can configure scripts that Netwrix Auditor will execute when an alert is generated. For example, if a divide fails then you can configure the settings to generate a Helpdesk ticket for your team to start the remediation process.
- Offers detailed auditing and reporting that helps maintain chain of custody for sensitive files
- Offers hardware and device monitoring to track device health alongside security
- Allows sysadmin to implement automated remediation via scripts
- Integrates with popular help desk platforms for automatic ticket creation
- Trial could be a bit longer
- Can have issues supporting Cisco network devices
- Alerting could be made more intuitive
Netwrix Auditor is one of the top network security auditing tools for those who want a solution with automation and a rest API. There is a free community edition, but you’ll have to purchase the software if you want to view more in-depth detail on network events. Contact the company directly for a quote. You can download the 20-day free trial.
Nessus is a free vulnerability assessment tool that can be used for auditing, configuration management, and patch management. Nessus is well-equipped to confront the latest threats releasing plugins for new vulnerabilities within an average of 24 hours. Plugins are added automatically so the user is ready to discover new cyber-attacks.
Configuring Nessus is easy because you have the support of over 450 different configuration templates. For example, there is a range of scan templates including Basic Network Scan, Advanced Scan, Malware Scan, Host Discovery, WannaCry Ransomware, and more. The variety of templates makes it easy to find the vulnerabilities you need.
You can also generate customizable reports to reflect on new entry points. Create reports detailing specific vulnerabilities by host or plugin. For example, you could generate a Hosts Executive Summary report and see how many hosts are categorized as Critical, High, Medium, Low, and Info. Reports can be created in HTML, CSV, and .nessus XML to share with your team.
- Offers a free vulnerability assessment tool
- Simple, easy to learn interface
- Little configuration needed, 450+ templates that support a range of devices and network types
- Prioritization is easy to tweak for different events
- The paid version is a more expensive enterprise solution, not the best fit for smaller networks
- Limited integration options
- Scans can slow the system down and use a large number of resources
Nessus is ideal if you’re looking for an auditing solution that is equipped to discover new online threats. The Essentials version of Nessus is available for free and can scan up to 16 IPs. Paid versions start at $2,390 (£1843) for Nessus Professional, which comes with a one-year subscription and unlimited IPs. You can try a free trial version.
Nmap is an open-source port scanner and network security scanner. With Nmap, you can discover hosts and find open ports vulnerable to being attacked. The software tells you whether ports are open, closed or filtered, via a command-line interface. The interface also tells you additional information such as the Port, State, Service, and Version of entities discovered. You can use the program to identify what OS version a piece of software is running so that you can patch any glaring weaknesses.
There is also the option to create automated scans. Nmap allows you to write scripts in Lua to run scans automatically. Automating scans is beneficial because it saves you time so that you don’t have to run scans manually to discover vulnerabilities.
If you’re not a fan of command-line interfaces then you can switch to Zenmap, the GUI version of Nmap. With Zenmap the user can save scan profiles and run common scans without having to manually set up a scan every time. You can also save scan results to review later on.
- Entirelyfree and open-source tool
- Massive open source community to support plugins and new features
- Highly customizable – supports Lua scripting
- Lightweight tool
- Completely free
- No GUI – must use Zenmap for interface functionality
- Steep learning curve, designed for network professionals and in-depth security audits
- Lacks proactive protection, machine learning, and behavioral analysis
Nmap is a popular port scanning tool because it’s simple enough for new users and offers more experienced users a ton of advanced features. It’s also free! Nmap is available for Linux, Windows, UNIX, and FreeBSD. You can download the program for free.
OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanning software aimed at Linux environments that offers authenticated and unauthenticated testing. OpenVAS is constantly updated to detect the latest vulnerabilities with the Greenbone Network Vulnerability Tests public feed, which includes over 50,000 different vulnerabilities.
- Open source transparent tool
- Large dedicated community
- Completely free
- No paid support option
- Interface is barebones, and lacking quality of life features
- Enterprises will likely find the learning curve frustrating
It’s a good fit for enterprises looking for an affordable vulnerability scanning tool for testing out the defenses of a network. OpenVAS is available for free.
Acunetix is a web application security scanner and one of the top network security auditing software that can test for over 50,000 network vulnerabilities when integrated with OpenVAS. It discovers issues like open ports that leave your systems open to being compromised.
OpenVAS scan results can be viewed through the Acunetix dashboard, which details the severity and status of vulnerabilities. The tool can also test for weak passwords on database servers, FTP, IMAP, SSH, POP3, SSH, Telnet, socks, and more.
There is also a configuration management feature that automatically detects misconfigurations in your network. You can use the feature to discover issues such as weak SNMP community strings or TLS/SSL ciphers that attackers can exploit. Having vulnerabilities listed allows you to organize your remediation and eliminate entry points more effectively.
Any issues you discover can be monitored with external tools including Jira, GitHub, and Microsoft TFS. The integrations give you the option to choose where you want to see your environment.
- Designed specifically for application security
- Integrates with a large number of other tools such as OpenVAS
- Can detect and alert when misconfigurations are discovered
- Expensive when compared to similar tools
- Would like to see a trial version rather than a demo
Acunetix is worth a look for users who want an auditing tool that’s easy to navigate that can integrate with other tools. It starts at $4,495 (£3,466) for support for 1-5 websites. You can access a demo of Acunetix Online, which already has the OpenVAS system integrated.
Kaseya VSA is an RMM software that can discover and manage endpoints. The tool automatically stores audit information from devices throughout your network. View discovered devices in a list format and view data including name, OS type, CPU, RAM, disk volumes, license, manufacturer, and more. A search bar helps you to navigate and find the performance data you need.
The platform itself is highly customizable. The user can create custom dashboards to manage their devices. The dashboard lets you track the status of a patch, agents, and operating systems. There are also customizable reports that you can use to manage devices.
Policy-based automation enables you to automatically complete tasks like software, patch, and antivirus deployment. On the communities, Automation Exchange, there are over 500 scripts included out-of-the-box you can use to configure your monitoring environment.
- Offers RMM functionality alongside network security scanning
- Provides auditing information for user access and security events on the network
- Designed to work out of the box, offers over 500 ready-to-go scripts
- Built for larger networks and MSPs
- Could use a longer trial period
- Contains a lot of features, can be overwhelming in some respects when only needing one or two of the features
- Interface could use improvement, putting more features into a single place
Kaseya VSA is ideal for larger companies looking for an automated IT inventory management tool. To find out pricing details, you will have to contact the company directly for a quote. You can also start a 14-day free trial.
Spiceworks Inventory is a network inventory tool that takes an inventory of devices with IP addresses. You can automatically discover data on connected Devices and view it in a list format. Simply enter the IP range you want to scan and start scanning to identify devices. Once finished scanning, you can view the software installed, manufacturer, MAC address, open ports, and more.
You can use the tool to configure email reports. The user can create customized reports and email them to other employees on a schedule. Customization options include the ability to select what columns to display.
For example, if you wanted to generate a report on whether devices had antivirus installed then you can select the AntiVirus Name, Antivirus Version, and AntiVirus Up-to-Date? Options to verify the device is protected.
- Can automatically detect new devices and inventory them
- Can manage devices via simple agents
- And remotely manage endpoint security as well as monitor the device’s network usage and hardware resources
- Available for both Windows and Mac
- Free tool
- Ticketing could be improved, feels clunky on the NOC end
- Functionality was lost when moving to the online dashboard from the desktop version
- Could benefit from a less crowded UI
Spiceworks Inventory is an excellent tool if you want to take an inventory of Windows and Mac devices without paying anything upfront. The software is available completely free with support for unlimited devices and users. Download Spiceworks Inventory for free.
Network Inventory Advisor is an inventory scanning tool that can automatically detect Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and SNMP-enabled devices. Device data is displayed in a list format detailing the OS and storage space of devices.
You can navigate inventory data to view All license keys, All hardware, All software, All Alerts or a Network Summary. In the All Alerts view you can view a list of notifications on your environment. The notifications tell you about hardware/software changes and storage issues.
The software licensing management feature that can track software licenses. For example, the tool scans for serial numbers and license codes to help you keep your software up to date. This tool can collect software licenses for a range of providers including Microsoft, Symantec, Autodesk, Adobe, Corel, and more.
- Available for Mac, Linux, and Windows
- Supports SNMP for custom alert integrations
- Offers licensing management alongside security scans
- Feels like its better at licensing management than security scanning at times
- Trial period could be longer
Network Inventory Advisor is intended for those looking for a simple inventory management solution that can manage a range of devices. They offer a scalable pricing model starting at $89 (£68.65) for 25 nodes going up to an unlimited custom package. There’s a 15-day free trial.
Related post: File Activity Monitoring Software
Metasploit is an open-source penetration testing software for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, that many companies use to test network defenses. Running a penetration test with Metasploit allows you to find vulnerabilities in your network from the perspective of an attacker. The Metasploit framework comes with a range of exploits with almost 500 different payloads you can use to simulate a cyberattack.
The tool offers plugins that can integrate with other monitoring services such as Nessus Pro and Nmap. For example, you can import Nmap scans directly into Metasploit. The integrations that are compatible with these external services enable the security software to work alongside other tools in your cybersecurity strategy.
- Open-source tool with huge community
- Supports in-depth penetration testing for more detailed manual tests
- Highly customizable
- Steep learning curve, designed for security teams and network professionals
- Limited user interface, CLI experience is necessary
- Trial period could be longer
- Doesn’t support live monitoring
Metasploit is available as an open-source (Metasploit Framework) or commercial tool (Metasploit Pro). The commercial version includes additional features like network discovery and a remote API. To find out pricing information you’ll have to contact the company directly. There is a 14-day free trial available for the commercial version.
Choosing a network security audit tool
Auditing your network, managing your IT inventory, and checking for vulnerabilities is something that every company needs to do. Conducting simple tasks like maintaining an inventory of devices and regularly searching for configuration issues ensures that your network is prepared for the future. If you don’t regularly monitor your network infrastructure there’s no way you can manage new vulnerabilities effectively.
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is our editor’s choice for managing device configurations. Other standout tools include NetWrix, and Nmap (the latter is ideal if you’re looking for a free vulnerability scanning solution). No matter what tool you choose, taking a proactive approach will give you the best line of defense against new threats.
Network Security Auditing FAQs
How does an IT audit differ from a security assessment?
An IT security audit checks that specific security controls are in place. A cybersecurity assessment is a high-level study that determines the effectiveness of those cybersecurity controls and rates an organization’s cybersecurity preparedness. Audits follow a list of requirements, such as those specified by HIPAA or PCI DSS and assessments make sure a company is secure against all known current cybersecurity attack strategies.
How often should security audits be performed?
A system that is high risk or new should be audited quarterly. Stable systems can be audited twice a year.
How do you audit cloud security?
Cloud security audits are not much different to audits of on-premises systems. The audit will be tailored according to any standards that the company works to, such as HIPAA or PCI DSS.