Best Network Security Auditing Tools

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Intruder (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based vulnerability scanner with the monthly scans, on-demand scanning, and the services of a pen-testing team.
  3. 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.
  4. Atera (FREE TRIAL) A SaaS platform for managed service providers that includes remote monitoring and management systems, such as its auditor report generator.
  5. ManageEngine Log360 (FREE TRIAL) A SIEM package that collects logs from network endpoints and cloud platforms and stores them for compliance auditing. Runs on Windows Server.
  6. N-able N-sight Remote monitoring and management software that includes a risk intelligence module to protect and report on PII.
  7. Netwrix Auditor Network security auditing software with configuration monitoring, automated alerts, and a Rest API.
  8. Nessus Free vulnerability assessment tool with over 450 configuration templates and customizable reports.
  9. Trellix XDR Platform This cloud package draws activity data from multiple sources, including endpoints and networks.
  10. Nmap Open-source port scanner and network mapper available as a command-line interface or as a GUI (Zenmap).
  11. OpenVAS Vulnerability assessment tool for Linux users with regular updates.
  12. Acunetix A Web application security scanner that can detect over 50,000 network vulnerabilities when integrated with OpenVAS.
  13. Kaseya VSA RMM software with IT asset discovery, custom dashboards, reports, and automation.
  14. Spiceworks Inventory A free web-based network IT asset management tool that automatically discovers network devices via an on-site agent.
  15. Network Inventory Advisor inventory scanning tool compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux devices.
  16. Metasploit Penetration testing tool that allows you to hack into exploits in your network.

Best Network Security Auditing Tools

Our methodology for selecting 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

1. SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (FREE TRIAL)

solarwinds network configuration management

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.

Key Features

  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Tamper protection
  • Compliance enforcement
  • Security audit trail
  • Mass rollout

Why do we recommend it?

The SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager standardizes the configuration of network devices after scanning their settings for known security weaknesses. This process is a network security audit and it forms phase one of the Network Configuration Manager’s responsibilities. At the heart of this security system lies a library of device configuration images. Each records the recommended settings that have been applied to each device. The system repeatedly scans each device and compares its configuration with the stored image. If it finds a difference, the SolarWinds tool applies the stored image, wiping out the unauthorized changes.

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.

Solarwinds Network Configuration Manager Network Security Auditing Tools

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Although the security services of the Network Configuration Manager are needed by all businesses, small companies might find this package a little expensive for their needs. The tool is best suited for mid-sized and large organizations. This is a software package that runs on Windows Server, so it if you only have Linux servers, you won’t be able to use this system.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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 $1,687 (£1,273.54). You can download a 30-day free trial.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is our top pick for a security auditing tool because it offers document security assessments, automated solutions to tighten security, constant monitoring of network devices, and an audit trail for all configuration issues that are encountered. As well as being a good tool for auditing this is an easy-to-use security enforcement tool. Hackers know that they can ease their lateral movement by altering the settings of network devices and the automated configuration restoration feature in the Network Configuration Manager shuts that trick down.

Official Site: solarwinds.com/network-configuration-manager/registration

OS: Windows Server

You can get full observability for your network with the Network Automation Manager. That package includes the Network Configuration Manager and it also has the Network Performance Monitor, the Netflow Traffic Analyzer, the User Device Tracker, the VoIP & Network Quality Manager, the IP Address Manager, and the SolarWinds High Availability service. All of these system integrate into a single dashboard. The software runs on Windows Server and you can get it on a 30-day free trial.

SolarWinds Network Administration Manager Start a 30-day FREE Trial

2. Intruder (FREE TRIAL)

Intruder - SQL Injection scan screenshot

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.

Key Features

  • Choice of scan frequency
  • Cloud-based
  • Database of 9,000 vulnerabilities
  • Great performance visuals

Why do we recommend it?

Intruder.io is a vulnerability scanning system, which documents your network’s security weaknesses. This service can be run as an external scan, which identifies the security loopholes that hackers could use to get in. It also provides an internal network scan option, which will examine each device connected to your network and identify misconfigurations and software weaknesses that will help intruders move from one device to another and alter network devices to make secret activities hidden.

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.

Intruder Network Security Auditing Tools

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Any business would benefit from the Inteder.io system. It is made more accessible by the presentation of three plans. The plan levels provide monthly automated vulnerability scans at a low cost, which will appeal to smaller businesses and the top plan includes the services of a human penetration testing team, which meets the requirements of large companies that need to prove compliance with data security standards. This is a cloud-based system and its vulnerability database gets updated automatically behind the scenes, so your system is always scanned for the most recently discovered security weaknesses.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Intruder Start 30-day FREE Trial

3. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine Vulnerabilty Manager Plus

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.

Key Features

  • Configuration tightening
  • Software assessments
  • Threat intelligence feed

Why do we recommend it?

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus is a great bundle of tools that provide the discovery of all assets, scans for weaknesses, and tools to remediate discovered exploits. The identification of exploits and their resolution can be linked together so problems get fixed automatically. You can also choose to keep these two phases separate to require manual involvement – it’s your choice. The package offers three plans and the remediation tools, which are a patch manager and a configuration manager are only included in the top edition.

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.

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus Network Security Auditing Tools

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.

Who is it recommended for?

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus is only available for Windows Server. So, you need to have a server running Windows if you want to use this software. The appeal of this network security auditing tool is widened to businesses of all sizes by the three plans that are available for the tool. The first of these is free and it covers 25 devices. This is a great offer for small businesses because that capacity is enough to protect a fairly standard small business network. The top plan gives you automated remediation and that will appeal to mid-sized and large enterprises.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus Download 30-day FREE Trial

Related post: Network Configuration Management Software

4. Atera (FREE TRIAL)

Atera Dashboard

Atera is a package of services for monitoring and management tools for remote systems. The SaaS platform also has a section of utilities designed for use by the management team of a managed service provider. Among all of the tools in this bundle is a reporting facility that can generate a range of system audit reports.

Key Features

  • Suitable for MSPs
  • Subscription per technician
  • Security auditing reports

Why do we recommend it?

Atera is offered in versions for IT departments and managed service providers (MSPs). The system is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) system with an integrated ticketing system, so it is a complete package for an IT support team, whether in-house or contracted in. Access to remote systems requires individual technician accounts with credentials and these enable the actions of each support operative to be logged. This is a great security auditing feature by itself. The Atera package creates and maintains hardware and software inventories. The software register provides the basis for an automated patch manager, which documents and tightens the security of the supported systems.

The service is designed for use by managed service providers. When a system is enrolled in the service, the Atera server downloads an agent onto the target network. This uses SNMP to gather information on each of the devices composing the network.

Atera Security Auditing Tools

The result of this scan is a network asset inventory, which is updated constantly and provides a basis for all of the automated network monitoring activities of the package. That network monitor works on a system of performance expectation thresholds, which trigger alerts if problems are detected. Atera offers a network mapping system as a paid add-on.

Who is it recommended for?

Atera is priced per technician, which means support teams of any size will find the package useful. All of the functions offered by the Atera package are available for a single, independent freelance technician. That’s the same package offered to very large support organizations. As it is a SaaS package, a support technician can access the system from anywhere, even from home.

Pros:

  • A remote monitoring system that is easy to set up and enroll new clients
  • A flexible reporting tool that runs off status reports and activity audit reports
  • A network inventory that includes the age of each device
  • A network discovery system that is constantly updated

Cons:

  • No site agent for Linux
  • Network mapper costs extra

Atera is a subscription service and there are three plan levels for the service. This makes the package suitable for businesses of all sizes. As it is a SaaS platform, you don’t need to host any software on-site and all of the operating data and performance records are stored on Atera’s cloud server. You can get a free trial to assess the package.

Atera Start a FREE Trial

5. ManageEngine Log360 (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine Log360 Dashboard

ManageEngine Log360 is a SIEM that offers compliance auditing and reporting for HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA, SOX, GDPR, and GLBA. The system is composed of a central server and many device agents. The agents collect log messages and forward them to the server.

The log manager in Log360 consolidates arriving log messages by converting them into a common format. It then files those records so that they can be searched for compliance auditing.

Key Features

  • Collects Windows Events and Syslog messages
  • Interfaces with more than 700 software packages
  • Consolidates and files logs

Why do we recommend it?

ManageEngine Log360 is a SIEM system. A SIEM searches through log files and so, Log360 also includes a log manager that gathers, consolidates, and files log messages. These records are made available for the automated security searches o the IEM and there is a data viewer that allows manual ad-hoc data analysis. Those log files are made available for compliance auditing. As well as gathering log messages from network devices, operating systems, and software packages, the Log360 package also creates its own records by tracking user activity and building a profile of typical behavior per account. The system also data loss prevention.

ManageEngine Log360 Security Auditing Tools

Log messages are shown live in the dashboard of Log360 as they arrive and they can be loaded into the data viewer from files. The data viewer includes search tools for analysis and the package includes pre-written compliance reports for security assessments.

The threat hunter of the SIEM is supplied with a threat intelligence feed. Once it discovers suspicious behavior, it generates an alert, which is displayed in the dashboard. You can also get the system to channel those alerts through your service desk team management tool for technician action.

Who is it recommended for?

Log360 is a very large package. It is available for Windows Server, but it is able to gather logs from other operating systems, including cloud platforms. The tool provides Active directory analysis and improvement as well as log message collection and analysis. All of this is suitable for businesses that have become too large to keep track of, so it is probably more functionality than a small business would need. The Log360 system is suitable for mid-sized and large organizations. Very large businesses particularly need the automated detection services built into this package and companies that need to comply with HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA, SOX, GDPR, and GLBA will get the most value out of this package.

Pros:

  • Constant security monitoring
  • Data analytical tools
  • Pre-written compliance audit reports
  • Threat intelligence feed

Cons:

  • The server isn’t available for Linux

The server for Log360 is available for Windows Server. The agents are available for a list of operating systems, including Linux, AWS, and Azure. You can assess ManageEngine Log360 with a 30-day free trial.

ManageEngine Log360 Download 30-day FREE Trial

6. N-able N-sight

N-able N-sight

N-able N-sight 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 N-sight has network security auditing tools built-in to get your system compliant to standards such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA.

Key Features

  • Suitable for MSPs
  • Compliance auditing
  • PII tracking and protection

Why do we recommend it?

N-able N-sight is a cloud platform of tools for use by managed service providers (MSPs). This bundle includes network monitoring that can operate over several sites. This part of the system provides device discovery and inventory management. The service also offers a patch manager to keep operating systems and software up-to-date, thus blocking exploits that can assist intruders to get on the network. The package also provides security monitoring for endpoints and network devices.

The remote monitoring and management tools in N-able N-sight 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.

N-Able N-Sight Network Security Auditing Tool

The N-able N-sight 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 N-sight service also includes an anti-virus package and a firewall for the entire network and all of its devices.

Who is it recommended for?

This RMM system is suitable for monitoring network devices and also endpoints. However, those endpoints need to be running Windows, macOS, and Android, or iOS. The patch manager in the package only works for Windows. So, this package is really only optimal for networks that run Windows on all of their endpoints. This is a SaaS package, which means that it can be accessed from any operating system. However, if you are going to be monitoring systems that include Linux computers, N-able N-sight is not a good fit.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Designed for MSPs and large businesses, not the best option for small networks and home users

N-able N-sight 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 N-sight risk-free.

7. Netwrix Auditor

Netrix Auditor

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.

Key Features

  • Identify users accessing data
  • Full audit reports
  • Security controls

Why do we recommend it?

Netwrix Auditor is a comprehensive security auditing tool that examines user accounts and data locations above all other considerations. The package can be run continuously, which allows it to act as an intrusion detection system. The network device auditing feature in this system looks at access accounts and permission levels, issues such as telnet access without security, logon attempts, and configuration changes. As well as issuing live warnings whenever a security weakness or threat is detected, the Netwrix system also writes its discoveries to log files. These logs can be used for compliance auditing and reporting.

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Of all the systems on this list, this package is probably closest to ManageEngine Log360. It performs activity tracking for each user account, which can identify account takeover events. Like Log360, this tool will raise an alert if it discovers a threat and it will also organize log messages for auditing. However, Netwrix Auditor isn’t classified as a SIEM. The tool is heavily focused on Microsoft products, so you wouldn’t choose Netwrix Auditor if you use Linux and LAMP solutions. A free Community Edition will appeal to small businesses.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

8. Nessus

Nessus screenshot

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.

Key Features

  • Free to use
  • Configuration templates
  • Issue severity categorization

Why do we recommend it?

Nessus is a well-known and highly respected vulnerability scanner. This package was originally a free, open-source project but it has now gone proprietary. The tool is available in a free version but that has less functionality than the paid options and it is limited to scanning 16 IP addresses. Nessus will provide you with a list of vulnerabilities on your network devices and endpoints. These results can be stored as reports and they categorize all discovered exploits by severity.

Tenable Nessus Network Security Auditing Tool

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.

Who is it recommended for?

The Nessus system is a good option for mid-sized and large organizations. Small businesses can use Nessus Essentials for free. The OpenVAS system was created as a free, open-source fork of Netssus when the owner of the Nessus project decided to turn it into a commercial product. So, anyone interested in Nessus should also examine OpenVAS as well.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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 $2,990 (£2,257) for Nessus Professional, which comes with a one-year subscription and unlimited IPs. You can start with Nessus Professional on a 7-day free trial.

9. Trellix XDR Platform

Trellix XDR Platform

The Trellix XDR Platform is a full system security monitoring package that includes endpoint monitoring and network monitoring. The network security unit, called an NDR adds to the endpoint monitoring service. While the endpoint monitor looks for anomalous behavior on each device, the NDR catches lateral movement attempts between endpoints – a technique that is used by malware to spread around the enterprise.

Key Features

  • Spots lateral movement
  • Identifies unexpected access
  • Shuts down threats

Why do we recommend it?

The Trellix XDR package is hosted on the cloud and installs agents on your site. The combination of endpoint protection and network scanning covers all bases. The tool focuses on hosts, where all executables run, to find malware and intruders. The network detection feature is able to isolate infected devices by blocking all traffic that emanates from malware in attempts to extend the attack to other devices.

Having a user account stolen or getting malware on one endpoint is bad enough but when intruders use that account to get to sensitive data on other devices or when ransomware spreads to all computers, you are really in trouble. Automated responses in the Trellix XDR stop those horrors from occurring.

Trellix XDR Platform Network Security Auditing Tool

All of the discoveries and responses of the Trellix system are stored in logs for later analysis. The measures taken to protect your system also need to be recorded to form part of compliance reporting. So, this system is doubly important for companies that handle sensitive data and need to follow data protection standards.

There are always new attack techniques appearing and finding software that already has characteristic recognition built into it for every possible attack type is impossible. So, the backup protection of the NDR is vital because it blocks movement no matter what the methods of the malware or the intruder are.

Who is it recommended for?

Every business needs to protect its data against theft and corruption. Blocking access before it happens is better than trying to trap a malicious actor. NDR is preventative because any unimportant endpoint can be an entry point to malware or intruders due to user carelessness. You need to stop those malicious actors from getting from a user device to an important data store.

Pros:

  • Provides a high degree of automation for detection and response
  • A universal defense strategy that blocks any type of attack
  • Constantly active vigilance

Cons:

  • Needs a constantly available internet connection

You can investigate Trellix XDR further by requesting a demo.

10. Nmap

Nmap

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.

Key Features

  • Free to use
  • Command line utility
  • GUI front-end called Zenmap

Why do we recommend it?

Nmap is well known in network administration circles as a network discovery tool. It is a command line tool that can be integrated into scripts. The layout of the results of this utility can be a little hard to read and if you want to look at the layout of the network, you would be a lot better off downloading Zenmap, which is a companion system to Nmap and offers a GUI frontend. The Zenmap system is able to save the network device information discovered by Nmap, which makes it a useful network documentation tool.

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Nmap is used by network administrators, hackers, and penetration testers. As it is free, there is no reason not to download Nmap and have it on your computer for ad-hoc investigations. It is possible to get Nmap and Zenmap to run on Windows. If you like to write your own scripts and you have time to learn the Lua scripting language, you will really like Nmap.

Pros:

  • Entirely free and open-source tool
  • Massive open-source community to support plugins and new features
  • Highly customizable – supports Lua scripting
  • Lightweight tool
  • Completely free

Cons:

  • 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.

11. OpenVAS

Openvas

OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanning software aimed at Linux environments that offers authenticated and unauthenticated testing.

Key Features

  • Free to use
  • Script language
  • Customizable tests

Why do we recommend it?

OpenVAS is a fork of Nessus. Contributing developers to Nessus walked out and created their own version when Nessus turned into a commercial product. This project is sponsored by Greenbone Networks but it is still completely free. The package has a list of more than 50,000 network vulnerabilities, which makes this one of the most comprehensive internal vulnerability scanners. Greenbone has built a more user-friendly system around the OpenVAS code, called Greenbone Enterprise Appliance – which is a paid product.

OpenVAS is constantly updated to detect the latest vulnerabilities with the Greenbone Network Vulnerability Tests public feed, which includes over 50,000 different vulnerabilities.

Who is it recommended for?

OpenVAS is a great system but it is not very easy to use. Businesses of all sizes would benefit from using this tool. You will need to dedicate a member of staff to learning how to use the OpenVAS system effectively and that study can take quite a while. However, it is necessary to create your own on-site expert in the tool because there is no professional support available for the system. OpenVAS is only available for Linux.

Pros:

  • Open source transparent tool
  • Large dedicated community
  • Completely free

Cons:

  • 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.

12. Acunetix

Acunetix screenshot

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.

Key Features

  • Tests for 50,000 vulnerabilities
  • Integrates OpenVAS
  • Interfaces to CI/CD tools

Why do we recommend it?

Acunetix offers a way to integrate OpenVAS into a CI/CD pipeline because it offers an integration of the free scanner into its own application security testing service. This integration is easier to manage in the Cloud version because, on that platform, both the application tester and the network scanner are fully integrated into one interface. Acunetix is known as a DevOps tool because it can be used to look for vulnerabilities in code that is under development and it can also work as a Web vulnerability scanner for operations teams.

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.

Acunix Network Security Auditing Tool

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Businesses that develop their own Web applications will get the full benefit of the Acunetix system. However, it can be used as a standalone external vulnerability scanner for Web applications by operations teams. It excels in checking Web application code. If you want to use it with OpenVAS to get network security auditing, it is better to opt for the cloud SaaS package offered by Acunetix. The Acunetix system can be self-hosted on Linux, macOS, and Windows, but if you go down that route, you have to install OpenVAS separately on Linux and then manually link the two packages together.

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for application security
  • Integrates with a large number of other tools such as OpenVAS
  • Can detect and alert when misconfigurations are discovered

Cons:

  • 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. To discover the pricing of this tool, you need to get a quote. You can access a demo of Acunetix Online, which already has the OpenVAS system integrated.

13. Kaseya VSA

Kaseya VSA

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.

Key Features

  • Asset management
  • Security management
  • Suitable for MSPs

Why do we recommend it?

Kaseya VSA is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool that was designed for use by MSPs. The package includes network discovery and mapping utilities, which lets you identify all of your equipment, logs that are getting old or out of date, and spot rogue devices connected to the network. The remote monitoring and management tools in the package extend to mobile devices and IoT equipment and it can also monitor cloud services and the internet connections to them. All of these monitoring phases produce system security information, which can be stored for compliance auditing. Security protection systems that can be added on to the Kaseya VSA package include a backup service, patching, EDR, DDoS protection, and a Web application firewall (WAF).

Kaseya VSA Network Security Auditing

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.

Who is it recommended for?

As already stated, Kaseya VSA was designed for use by managed service providers. However, it could also be used by in-house IT support teams. The main competitor on this list for Kaseya VSA is Atera. Kaseya recommends that MSPs use this tool in conjunction with Kaseya BMS, which is a professional services automation (PSA) package. IT departments should combine Kaseya VSA with the Vortex package, which is an IT Service Desk package. All of these systems are SaaS bundles that are hosted in the cloud.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

14. Spiceworks Inventory

Spiceworks inventory

Spiceworks Inventory is a free network inventory tool that is delivered in a Web interface. After signing up for a free account, you need to download a collector agent onto one of the computers on your network. That agent is available for Windows and macOS.

Once set up, this tool scans your network to compile an inventory. The scanner is launched by entering an IP address range. The scan results list installed software packages on each device as well as that computer’s manufacturer, MAC address, and open ports.

Key Features

  • Free to use
  • Web-based
  • Customizable reports

Why do we recommend it?

Spiceworks Inventory is a free, ad-supported online system that is very easy to set up and use. This tool provides an on-demand scan of your network that compiles an inventory. The list details factors such as device type, make, model, and whether it has antivirus installed on it. It is also possible to get the scanner to run regularly on a schedule and email you an inventory report. There is also a companion Help Desk system available from Spiceworks and that is also free to use. Spiceworks offers very useful tools, such as connectivity testers that enable you to check on the availability of devices within your network and across the internet.

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.

Spiceworks Inventory Network Security Auditing Tools

Who is it recommended for?

This tool is ideal for small businesses and particularly oner-managers who don’t know much about IT but need to get to grips with tracking their network equipment. The system is Web-based and it will install an agent program on one of your computers in a guided process. This is just as easy as downloading a piece of software through an installer, which is a task that everyone has already performed. So, you don’t need specialist IT skills to get this service up and running.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

15. Network Inventory Advisor

Network inventory advisor

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.

Key Features

  • Hardware asset inventory
  • Software license management
  • Covers Windows, macOS, and Linux

Why do we recommend it?

Network Inventory Advisor is a low-cost system monitoring and management tool that provides a network scan for asset inventory creation. The package will generate a database of all of your equipment and then scan each endpoint to compile a software inventory. The tool then provides periodic sweeps of the network to update those lists. Software management features support license management and highlight patch statuses but the package doesn’t include an automated patch manager.

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.

Network Inventory Advisor Security Auditing Tool

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Although it is possible to buy a license for Network Inventory Advisor to track a network with a very large number of endpoints, this tool is most suitable for small businesses. You buy a perpetual license with a capacity limit. The smallest package available is for 25 devices. The software installs on Windows and macOS and it can scan endpoints running Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Pros:

  • Available for Mac, Linux, and Windows
  • Supports SNMP for custom alert integrations
  • Offers licensing management alongside security scans

Cons:

  • 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

16. Metasploit

Metasploit Pro screenshot

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.

Key Features

  • Free version available
  • Used by penetration testers
  • Audits security preparedness

Why do we recommend it?

Metasploit Framework is a highly respected penetration testing tool for networks and Web assets. Its paid version, Metasploit Pro, is fully automated and is really a vulnerability scanner. However, those who want to perform a manual exploration of a system would be happy with the free version. Metasploit is a package of tools and they fall into two categories – system investigation tools and system attack tools. The exploration tools effectively document the security status of your network and if you go for the paid version you can get all of that work done at the push of a button.

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.

Who is it recommended for?

Metasploit is a tool that is designed for cybersecurity consultants rather than for network managers. Its main rivals aren’t on this list but can be found in The Best Network Penetration Testing Tools. The appealing feature of Metasploit is that it can be extended by adding in third-party tools and it is also possible to import the results of other security scanning tools, such as Nmap. You need to have specialist cybersecurity training to get the best out of this tool. Even the automated Metasploit Pro is more appropriate for use by a pen tester than by a network manager.

Pros:

  • Open-source tool with huge community
  • Supports in-depth penetration testing for more detailed manual tests
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • 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.