Nikto Review Including Alternatives

Nikto is a free command line vulnerability scanner. This type of software searches for the presence of loopholes known to be used by hackers who want to sneak into a system or send malware to it.

Key Features:

  • Command-Line Interface: Offers a straightforward, command-line interface for executing vulnerability scans.
  • Comprehensive Vulnerability Database: Contains about 6,700 known vulnerabilities for comprehensive web application scanning.
  • Multiple Output Formats: Supports reporting in various formats including plain text, XML, HTML, NBE, or CSV for flexible documentation.
  • Customizable Scanning: Allows users to tailor the scanning process by excluding specific tests or categories of tests.

A great benefit of vulnerability scanners is that they run through a series of checks automatically without the need for note-taking or decision-making by a human operator. This means that the user doesn’t need to have any cybersecurity knowledge to use the tool and can get a full assessment of the system without paying for an expensive consultancy service. Thus, vulnerability scanners save businesses time and money. In addition, Nikto is free to use, which is even better.

Top List: Best Nikto Alternatives

  1. Syxsense Secure – Distinguished for its cloud-based management and extensive security features, making it an all-encompassing solution for modern cybersecurity needs.
  2. SecPod SanerNow – Offers a versatile SaaS platform with a strong focus on vulnerability management, patch management, and configuration management, ideal for comprehensive security strategy implementation.
  3. Invicti – Stands out as a sophisticated, user-friendly option for web application security, backed by the support of experienced technicians and offering extensive scanning capabilities.
  4. Acunetix – Renowned for its rapid scanning abilities and in-depth application security insights, making it a preferred choice for developers and IT security professionals alike.
  5. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus – Celebrated for its continuous scanning and patching capabilities, along with its flexible deployment across Windows, Linux, and Mac environments.
  6. Rapid7 InsightVM – Known for its advanced analytics and automated remediation features within a comprehensive cloud platform, offering a robust solution for threat detection and response.

The history of Nikto

Nikto was first released in December 2001. The system was created by Chris Sullo, a security consultant and penetration tester. The project remained open-source and community-supported while Sullo continued with his career.

Open source projects have lower costs than commercial software development because the organization doesn’t have to pay for developers. In the case of Nikto, the entire base package was written by one person and then enhanced by other enthusiasts.

One source of income for the project lies with its data files, which supply the list of exploits to look for. Unfortunately, the package of exploit rules is not free. This puts the project in a difficult position. On the one hand, its promise of free software is attractive. On the other hand, however, the extra hidden cost is off-putting and would force potential uses to reconsider.

The prospect of paying to use the system brings it into competition with commercially-developed vulnerability managers, which have bigger budgets to fund development. Nikto struggled with finance until February 2014, when Invicti (formerly Netsparker) became a partner to the project, providing funding and organizational expertise. Invicti sponsors Nikto to this date.

Invicti produces a vulnerability scanner that can also be used as a development testing package.

Nikto usage

Nikto is currently billed as Nikto2. The tool is now 20 years old and has reached version 2.5. This is a Web server scanner that looks for vulnerabilities in Web applications. The package has about 6,700 vulnerabilities in its database.

Routines in Nikto2 look for outdated software contributing to the delivery of Web applications and check on the Web server’s configuration. The system can scan ports on Web servers and can scan multiple servers in one session. The scanner tries a range of attacks as well a looking for exploits. For example, it will probe credentials, working through a dictionary of well-known usernames and passwords that hackers know to try.

The sequence of tests also includes an anti-IDS attack that will help you to check on the abilities of your intrusion detection system if you have one installed.

The output from each scan will be summarized on the screen, and it is also possible to request a report written to file in plain text, XML, HTML, NBE, or CSV format. Reports can be customized by applying a pre-written template, or it is possible to write your own format template. It is also possible to request detailed logs for individual tests.

Each scanning run can be customized by specifying classes of attributes to exclude from the test plan.

The scan can take a while, and you might wonder whether it is hanging. Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t have any graphics to show that it is still working, such as a progress bar, as a command-line service. However, the system includes an interrupt procedure that you can implement by pressing the space bar. This prompts Nikto2 to give a progress report to estimate how much time is remaining for the scan.

Why do we recommend it?

Nikto stands out for its comprehensive vulnerability scanning capabilities, offering a free, open-source solution that effectively identifies security loopholes in web applications. Its extensive database and compatibility with Kali Linux make it a valuable tool for security professionals and penetration testers seeking an economical option for vulnerability management.

Who is it recommended for?

Nikto is particularly well-suited for cybersecurity enthusiasts, small to medium-sized businesses on a budget, and IT professionals who require a reliable vulnerability scanner without the associated costs of commercial software. It’s also a great educational tool for students and newcomers to cybersecurity.

Nikto deployment options

Nikto2 operates as a proxy. This intercepts traffic between your Web server and the program that launches all of the tests. A separate process catches traffic and logs results. This scenario is widely used in pen testing tools – for example, both Metasploit and Burp Suite use the proxy model. You need to host both elements on your site, and they can both be run on the same host.

The software is written to run on Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. The tool is built into Kali Linux. This is an open-source project, and you can get the source code from its GitHub repository and modify it if you like to create your custom version.

Nikto strengths and weaknesses

As a free tool with one active developer, the progress on software updates is slow. Despite the sponsorship from Invicti (formerly Netsparker), the project doesn’t seem to have improved its development strategy. For example, the site explains that the release management mechanism is manual and, although there is a planned project to automate this, Chris Sullo hasn’t got around to it yet. This explains that Sullo is pretty much the sole developer involved in the project. He is also the sole support technician.

There is no message board or data exchange facility for users, so the package doesn’t have the “community support” offered by many other open-source projects.


  • Cost-Effective: Being free, Nikto offers an affordable solution for vulnerability scanning.
  • Comprehensive Scanning: Provides detailed checks against a large database of known vulnerabilities.
  • Versatility: Suitable for scanning web applications, with results that match what paid vulnerability managers seek.
  • Pre-Integrated in Kali Linux: Easily accessible for users of this popular penetration testing Linux distribution.


  • Lacks a Graphical User Interface: Operates solely through a command-line interface, which may deter less technical users.

Alternatives to Nikto

Nikto is a brave attempt at creating a free vulnerability scanner. However, the lack of momentum in the project and the small number of people involved in managing and maintaining the system means that if you choose this tool, you are pretty much on your own.

Our methodology for selecting an alternative to Nikto  

We reviewed the market for vulnerability managers like Nikto and assessed the options based on the following criteria:

  • An installer package for automated installation
  • A GUI interface for ease of use
  • Options for on-demand or scheduled vulnerability scanning
  • A system that customizable rules can adapt
  • A well-maintained system with patches to update detection rules and functionality
  • A free tool or an assessment mechanism for paid tools
  • A paid system that offers value for money or a free tool that works

We have compiled a list of some excellent vulnerability managers that offer good alternatives to Nikto with these selection criteria in mind. Keeping in mind that the audience for this guide manages business systems, we also prioritized services that came with a professional support package or gave access to an extensive and active user community for advice.

1. Syxsense Secure

This is a cloud-based vulnerability manager that includes a range of additional security services plus system management tools. The vulnerability checking service consists of a port scanner, and the bundle incorporates a patch manager that will get triggered automatically by the vulnerability scanner.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-Based Vulnerability Management: Offers a comprehensive suite of tools for vulnerability scanning and endpoint security from the cloud.
  • Automated Patch Management: Integrates a patch manager that automatically addresses vulnerabilities detected by the scanner.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Provides an EDR module to detect malware, intrusions, and insider threats across endpoints.

Why do we recommend it?

Syxsense Secure delivers a robust, all-in-one solution for managing vulnerabilities and enhancing endpoint security. Its cloud-based platform simplifies the deployment of security measures across diverse environments, while features like automated patch management and EDR ensure comprehensive protection against threats. The platform’s user-friendly dashboard and automated remediation capabilities make it an excellent choice for organizations seeking to streamline their security processes.

Another feature in this service is an endpoint detection and response module (EDR) that scours each endpoint for malware and identifies intrusion and insider threats. The EDR simultaneously works as an agent for the vulnerability scanner and the patch manager, and it is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The scanner can be run on-demand or set to repeat on a schedule at a frequency of your choice.

Who is it recommended for?

This solution is ideal for businesses of all sizes that require a versatile and efficient way to manage vulnerabilities and secure endpoints. It’s particularly suited for IT teams looking for an integrated platform that offers both vulnerability scanning and endpoint security features, without the need for extensive manual intervention.


  • Automated Remediation: Streamlines the response to detected vulnerabilities, reducing the time and effort required for resolution.
  • Multi-OS Support: Ensures compatibility with a wide range of operating systems, enhancing its flexibility for diverse IT ecosystems.
  • Network Device Discovery: Facilitates easy management of IT assets by automatically discovering new network devices.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Simplifies the monitoring and management of devices, making it accessible to users of varying technical expertise.


  • Trial Limitations: The desire for a longer trial period reflects the need for more time to evaluate the full capabilities of the platform.

The system can also be set to work incrementally and launch automatically whenever threat intelligence updates arrive. The SaaS account also includes storage space for patch installers and log files.  Syxsense Secure is available for a 14-day free trial.

2. SecPod SanerNow

This SaaS platform of security and system management services includes a vulnerability manager, a patch manager, and a configuration manager. The system also provides on-device endpoint detection and response software that can be coordinated from the cloud platform. All of the security and management functions in the SanerNow package can be linked to provide complete security weakness detection and remediation.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive SaaS Platform: Combines vulnerability management, patch management, and configuration management in one cloud-based service.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Includes on-device EDR software to identify and mitigate threats directly from the cloud.
  • Continuous and Automated Operation: Designed to run continuously, providing ongoing system hardening and proactive protection against threats.
  • Integrated Asset and Software Management: Facilitates efficient IT operations, including user provisioning and device setup, through automated profile applications.

Why do we recommend it?

SecPod SanerNow stands out for its integrated approach to security and system management, offering a suite of tools that work together to ensure comprehensive protection and operational efficiency. Its ability to run continuously and automatically adjust to new threats makes it a powerful ally in maintaining a strong security posture. The platform’s SaaS model simplifies deployment and management, especially for organizations looking to minimize on-premise hardware and software overhead.

The tool can be set to run continuously and automatically to ensure system hardening and provide preventative protection. The combination of asset and software management in this bundle also works well for day-to-day operations, such as provisioning and onboarding. It can be used to create new users and set up new devices automatically by applying a profile.

Who is it recommended for?

This platform is particularly well-suited for medium to large organizations seeking a scalable, cloud-based solution for vulnerability management, patch management, and EDR. It’s also ideal for managed service providers (MSPs) looking for a versatile tool that supports asset tracking and automates many routine tasks, allowing them to offer enhanced security services to their clients.


  • Ease of Deployment: Being a cloud-based solution, it simplifies the setup process, eliminating the need for extensive on-site infrastructure.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Supports a wide range of operating systems, making it suitable for diverse IT environments.
  • Automated Asset Management: Enhances efficiency by automating the tracking and management of IT assets.
  • Versatile Security Solution: Acts as a hybrid security tool, offering both vulnerability scanning and endpoint protection.


  • Optimized for Larger Scale: While highly capable, the platform’s comprehensive feature set and scalability may be more than what is needed for smaller environments.

All of the monitoring and management functions in the SanerNow bundle include extensive action and detection logging service that provides a suitable audit trail for compliance reporting. SecPod offers a free trial of SanerNow.

3. Invicti

This is the vulnerability manager offered by the main sponsor of Nikto, and it also presents the best alternative to that open-source tool. Although Invicti isn’t free to use, it is well worth the money. The system can be deployed in several options that provide on-demand vulnerability scans, scheduled scans, or continuous scanning, which provides integrated testing for CI/CD pipelines.

Key Features:

  • Flexible Scanning Options: Offers on-demand, scheduled, and continuous vulnerability scanning to fit various development and operational needs.
  • Comprehensive Vulnerability Detection: Scans for exploits, code vulnerabilities, and potential entry points for zero-day attacks across web applications.
  • Sophisticated Analysis Tools: Utilizes advanced techniques to identify logical errors and security loopholes in application code.

Why do we recommend it?

Invicti stands out as a comprehensive, sophisticated vulnerability management solution that combines ease of use with deep analytical capabilities. Its support for a wide range of web applications and services, regardless of the underlying technology, makes it a versatile tool for securing modern web environments. The platform’s focus on eliminating false positives and providing actionable insights into vulnerabilities positions it as a valuable asset for development teams and security professionals alike.

This service scans for exploits and examines code to scour for logical errors and potential entry points for zero-day attacks. This is a sophisticated, easy-to-use tool supported by technicians who are available around the clock.

Who is it recommended for?

Invicti is ideal for organizations with a strong focus on web application security, including businesses that operate web services or APIs. It’s particularly well-suited for development teams that employ continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices, as well as those looking to embed security testing directly into their development pipelines. Companies seeking a reliable, support-backed solution for identifying and mitigating web application vulnerabilities will find Invicti to be a fitting choice.


  • User-Friendly Dashboard: Offers an intuitive admin interface that simplifies vulnerability management and reporting.
  • Framework-Agnostic Scanning: Capable of analyzing any web application or service, providing broad coverage.
  • Actionable Reporting: Delivers detailed, prioritized reports on vulnerabilities, facilitating effective remediation planning.


  • Limited Trial Access: The preference for a demo over a trial period may restrict hands-on evaluation before commitment.

This Web application vulnerability manager is offered as a SaaS platform or an on-site software package for Windows and Windows Server.

4. Acunetix

This vulnerability manager is a better bet than Nikto because it offers options for internal network scanning and Web application vulnerability management.t This system looks for more than 7,000 external vulnerabilities and more than 50,000 network-based exploits. The scans performed by this system are speedy despite the large number of checks that it serves.

Key Features:

  • Extensive Vulnerability Detection: Scans for over 7,000 external vulnerabilities and more than 50,000 network-based exploits, offering one of the most comprehensive vulnerability databases available.
  • Rapid Scanning Capability: Performs fast and efficient scans despite the vast number of checks, minimizing disruption and speeding up the security assessment process.
  • Flexible Testing Options: Available in three editions to support on-demand, scheduled, and continuous testing, catering to various operational and development needs.

Why do we recommend it?

Acunetix distinguishes itself with its laser focus on web application security, backed by an extensive vulnerability scanning capability that few competitors can match. Its ability to quickly identify and address vulnerabilities, combined with the versatility offered by its testing options, makes it a powerful tool for securing web applications against evolving threats. The integration with other security tools further enhances its value, making it a central component of any web application security strategy.

Acunetix is offered in three editions that provide on-demand, scheduled, and continuous testing. The tool can be used for Web application development testing as well as vulnerability scanning.

Who is it recommended for?

Acunetix is particularly suited for organizations that prioritize web application security, from small development teams to large enterprises. Its detailed vulnerability assessments and rapid scanning make it an ideal choice for security professionals and developers who need to integrate security testing into their development lifecycle, especially those involved in continuous deployment and agile development environments.


  • Application Security Expertise: Tailored specifically for securing web applications, providing deep and relevant security insights.
  • Comprehensive Integration: Enhances security workflows through compatibility with a broad range of security and development tools.
  • Proactive Misconfiguration Detection: Identifies and alerts on potential security misconfigurations, helping prevent breaches before they occur.
  • Automated Threat Mitigation: Utilizes automation to quickly respond to identified threats, reducing the window of vulnerability.


  • Trial Accessibility: The desire for a trial version highlights the need for potential users to experience the tool’s capabilities firsthand before making a purchase decision.

This system is available as a SaaS platform or for installation on Windows, macOS, or Linux.

5. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus

This package contains modules that can fix problems that the vulnerability scanner in the bundle identifies. As these services are offered as a collection, resolution can be triggered automatically by the scanner’s discovery of weaknesses. Those remediation services include a patch manager and a configuration manager.

Key Features:

  • Automated Vulnerability Resolution: Includes modules that automatically remediate detected vulnerabilities, streamlining the security maintenance process.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: The vulnerability scanner is scheduled to run every 90 minutes by default, ensuring frequent checks and updates.
  • Dynamic Exploit Database: Maintains an up-to-date database of exploits, automatically refreshing to include the latest hacker tactics and vulnerabilities.

Why do we recommend it?

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus is recommended for its robust, automated approach to vulnerability management, offering a comprehensive solution that spans identification, analysis, and remediation. Its frequent scanning schedule and dynamic exploit database ensure that organizations are protected against the latest threats. The flexibility to support multiple operating systems and the inclusion of essential remediation tools make it a versatile choice for businesses of all sizes.

The vulnerability scanner runs in a schedule with the default launch cycle being every 90 minutes – that frequency can be altered. The exploit database is automatically updated whenever a new hacker attack strategy is discovered. The software installs on Windows Server, and agents scan devices run Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Who is it recommended for?

This platform is particularly suitable for medium to large enterprises looking for a detailed and thorough approach to vulnerability management. Its support for a wide range of devices and operating systems, combined with the ability to automate much of the vulnerability management process, makes it a strong candidate for businesses seeking to enhance their security posture with minimal manual intervention. Small businesses may also benefit from the free version for basic vulnerability management needs.


  • Continuous Device Monitoring: Enables ongoing scanning and patching, ensuring devices remain secure throughout their lifecycle.
  • In-Depth Reporting: Provides detailed reports to track improvements and ensure compliance, aiding in the overall security strategy.
  • Multi-OS Compatibility: Ensures broad applicability across different IT infrastructures by supporting Windows, Linux, and Mac.


  • Complexity for Smaller Teams: The detailed and extensive nature of the ManageEngine ecosystem may present a steep learning curve for smaller teams or those new to vulnerability management.

ManageEngine offers Vulnerability Manager Plus on a 30-day free trial, and there is also a Free edition, which scans up to 25 devices.

6. Rapid7 InsightVM

This vulnerability scanner is part of a cloud platform that includes all of Rapid7’s latest system security tools. It is possible to subscribe to several of these and get all of the onsite data gathering performed by the same agents.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive Cloud Platform: Part of a broader cloud-based security ecosystem, allowing for centralized management of security tools and data.
  • Versatile Scanning Capabilities: Capable of performing both internal and external vulnerability scans across networks, endpoints, and cloud services.
  • Behavioral Analytics: Utilizes behavioral analytics to identify threats that evade traditional signature-based detection methods.

Why do we recommend it?

Rapid7 InsightVM is a sophisticated vulnerability scanner that stands out for its comprehensive coverage and advanced threat detection capabilities. By leveraging behavioral analytics and drawing on multiple data streams, it offers a dynamic approach to vulnerability management that can adapt to new threats as they emerge. The inclusion of automated remediation and the ability to perform detailed risk assessments further enhance its utility, making it a powerful tool for organizations serious about their cybersecurity posture.

The scanner can operate inside a network, on endpoints, and cloud services. It provides both internal and external scans. In addition, InsightVM includes a risk assessment service that provides a third-party risk notification service and is kept constantly up to date.

Who is it recommended for?

This solution is best suited for medium to large organizations that require a robust, all-encompassing approach to vulnerability management. Its ability to integrate with a range of security tools and provide detailed insights into both internal and external vulnerabilities makes it an ideal choice for businesses with complex IT environments or those subject to stringent compliance requirements. Companies willing to invest in a comprehensive security solution will find Rapid7 InsightVM to be a valuable addition to their cybersecurity arsenal.


  • Advanced Threat Detection: Offers cutting-edge capabilities to identify and mitigate complex threats that might bypass other systems.
  • Up-to-Date Security Intelligence: Constant updates ensure the tool remains effective against the latest vulnerabilities and exploits.
  • Automated Remediation: Simplifies the process of addressing identified vulnerabilities, reducing the workload on security teams.
  • Extensive Coverage: Suitable for a wide range of environments, including internal networks, endpoints, and cloud services.


  • Higher Cost: The pricing may be prohibitive for smaller organizations or those with limited cybersecurity budgets.
  • Additional Costs for Features: Some advanced features and integrations may require additional purchases, potentially increasing the overall cost.

InsightVM is available for a 30-day free trial.

Nikto FAQs

Is Nikto a good tool?

Nikto is a good tool but it has a few elements missing, which might make you move on to find an alternative vulnerability scanner. The most important absence in the Niktop system is a list of vulnerabilities to look for – you need to source this from elsewhere.

Can Nikto be detected?

Nikto is easy to detect – it isn’t stealthy at all. If a hacker wants to use Nikto to identify the security weaknesses in a system, that probe will be spotted immediately by any intrusion detection system.

Why is Nikto used?

Nikto is useful for system hardening. You need to look for outdated software and update it or remove it and also scan cookies that get installed on your system. Nikto performs these tasks.