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Top OSS vulnerability management tools

8 open-source vulnerability management tools and their features, categorized by use case

Wiz Experts Team
7 min read

There are many benefits to using open-source software (OSS), including vendor lock-in elimination, low usage costs, and source code flexibility. These benefits may account for why 96% of enterprise apps have one form of open-source component or the other. However, security is a potential drawback of OSS because both legitimate users and cybercriminals can easily access and reuse OSS code, making it critical to proactively identify and resolve vulnerabilities. 

Security teams can handle vulnerabilities by adopting open-source vulnerability scanning tools. They are free and offer an array of features, so read on for a comprehensive outline of our top picks, including core capabilities to benchmark them against when choosing a best-fit solution.

OSS vulnerability management: A quick refresher

Open-source software vulnerabilities are exploitable security gaps or flaws within the codebase of open-source libraries and frameworks, e.g., out-of-date software, counterfeit software or updates, misconfigurations, etc. Open-source software vulnerability management is the use of dedicated and automated tools to continuously scan OSS code for vulnerabilities. 

OSS vulnerability management tools seek to reduce organizations’ attack surface by proactively identifying and resolving vulnerabilities before they lead to a data breach or loss. Without these tools, vulnerabilities can be difficult to detect quickly due to poor visibility into open-source software components, dependencies, and associated vulnerabilities. 

Manually tracking all OSS vulnerabilities and corresponding updates can be a laborious and inefficient task. Luckily, numerous automated open-source vulnerability scanners have been developed. Below we discuss the primary capabilities to consider when choosing a vulnerability management solution.

Dynamic asset discovery

With enterprises’ IT infrastructure getting more complex, it has become increasingly likely that engineering teams will adopt software without full knowledge of the open-source code it contains or the security best practices for configuring the code. 

Example inventory of all the cloud services running in an environment

As such, any vulnerability management tool worth its salt must be capable of automatically discovering and inventorying all software assets—including apps, VMs, containers, container images, and databases—and their open-source components. 

SCA and SBOM integration 

A vulnerability assessment, complete with a software composition analysis (SCA) and a software bill of materials (SBOM), speeds up vulnerability discovery by embedding security into the software development lifecycle (SDLC). 

Configure scheduled SBOM reports for multi-resources

With an SCA, DevSecOps teams can itemize open-source software components, examine vulnerabilities in source code and binaries, and check for license compliance information. They can also use an SBOM to track an app’s third-party dependencies, version numbers, release dates, licenses, etc. for easy identification of components that require patching.

Swift and accurate vulnerability detection

Look for tools that offer quick, comprehensive, and continuous scanning of your entire stack for proactive vulnerability detection. Agentless scanning will also come in handy, as it’s fast and resource-efficient. 

Example of vulnerability detections aligned with the CISA KEV catalog

Additionally, vulnerability detection must be accurate; the fewer false positives/negatives the better—you don’t want a tool that raises an alarm when there’s no problem or gives you a clean bill of health when there are actually vulnerabilities present.

Risk-based prioritization

Example vulnerability dashboard that prioritizes issues by contextual severity

Some vulnerabilities are unlikely to be exploited, or if exploited have very little impact. The best-fit tool is one that understands the risk level of a vulnerability in the context of a specific business. It should thus rank identified vulnerabilities (e.g., based on overall risk score/profile) to help DevSecOps engineers balance between the risk posed by a vulnerability and available resources.

Remediation and alerting

Example vulnerability detection with easy-to-follow remediation instructions

You don’t want to always take your teams away from their daily tasks to resolve even the smallest threats. Go for a solution that automatically resolves vulnerabilities through patches or—if the vulnerability cannot be automatically resolved—alerts security engineers in real time while offering actionable recommendations. 

Compatibility 

Compatibility can be an issue with OSS tools. Some open-source vulnerability scanners are designed for specific programming languages (e.g., Govulncheck) or OSes (e.g., Vuls and Lynis for Linux environments). 

Be sure that the tool you are choosing is compatible with your software environment.

Top OSS vulnerability management tools

There are various open-source vulnerability management solutions on the market, each offering different capabilities from basic detection to advanced detection and remediation. We cover the top open-source tools and their capabilities, separated into their respective categories. 

Infrastructure scanners

Note: A general limitation of tools in this section is that they cannot assess website and app vulnerabilities.

OpenVAS

Open Vulnerability Assessment Software (OpenVAS) is a network and endpoint vulnerability scanner made up of several testing modules and two central components: a scanner and a manager. Its extensive up-to-date vulnerability database enables accurate network vulnerability detection. 

OpenVAS has a free and a paid version, with the major differences being the capabilities offered and network vulnerability test (NVT) feeds used; the paid version comes with the Greenbone Enterprise Feed, while the free version has the Greenbone Community Feed. 

Features (of the free version)

  • Automatic asset discovery, inventorying, and tagging 

  • Local or cloud-based installation

  • Risk prioritization

  • Flagging of outdated software, web server vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations

  • Graphical, interactive web interface

ProsCons
User-friendly management console Complicated to use; there may be a learning curve for some
Extensive vulnerability reportsLimited coverage; scans only basic endpoints and networks
Customization and integration optionsIdeal for Linux and Windows OSes only
Active community; better peer support and regular updates

OpenSCAP

Open Security Content Automation Protocol (OpenSCAP) is a Linux-based platform managed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to implement the SCAP standard. It comprises a suite of modules, including OpenSCAP Base, Workbench, and Daemon, targeted at vulnerability scanning and compliance enforcement. 

Its vulnerability scanner—OpenSCAP Base—detects vulnerabilities by comparing Common Platform Enumeration (CPE) tags with those retrieved from vulnerability databases. More recent versions of OpenSCAP also support Windows.

Features

  • Security misconfiguration detection

  • Compliance assessment

  • Severity ranking

  • Command-line scanning 

  • Graphical web interface 

ProsCons
Integration with multiple open-source vendors including Red HatDifficult to set up and use
Vulnerability assessment in secondsLimited support for Windows
Routine and on-demand scansNo support for non-Linux and Windows OSes

Nmap

Network Mapper (Nmap) is a command-line network and port vulnerability scanner for Windows, Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD systems. Nmap sends various packet types to target networks to discover online/offline hosts, open/closed ports, firewalls, etc., as well as any associated vulnerabilities. 

Features

  • Automatic host address, service, and OS discovery 

  • Host and service scanning with IP packets

  • Advanced vulnerability assessment with 500+ scripts

  • Version detection

  • TCP/IP/OS fingerprinting

  • DNS querying

ProsCons
Highly extensible with built-in scriptsLimited user interface; only recently introduced
Multiple output formats including normal, interactive, grepable, etc.Susceptible to detection and blocking due to excessive traffic and noise generation
Customizable network scansNo graphical network maps
Fast and accurate vulnerability detection

Nikto

Nikto is a web server scanner with a command-line interface for running vulnerability checks. It uncovers software version vulnerabilities and malicious programs in various server types and automatically updates outdated software. 

It also checks for server misconfigurations and captures cookies to detect cookie poisoning. The latest version, Nikto 2.5, offers IPv6 support.

Features

  • Tests for 7,000+ dangerous files/CGIs

  • Detects 1250+ outdated server versions and 270+ version-specific vulnerabilities 

  • Supports SSL with Perl/NetSSL for Windows and OpenSSL for Unix systems 

  • Subdomain and credential guessing

  • Reports in plain text, XML, SQL, JSON, etc. formats 

  • Multiple web server support, including Nginx, Apache, Lighttpd, and LiteSpeed

ProsCons
Regular and automatic scan of plugin updatesFree software, but data files for running the program are paid
Template engine for customized reportsRequires some expertise
Mutation techniques and content hashing for minimizing false positivesLengthy scan durations
Anti-intrusion detection softwareLimited to web servers; does not scan the entire software environment
Authorization guessing for all directories, including root, parent, and subdirectories

Website and web app scanners

While these tools are top web app scanners, they cannot detect network and infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Wapiti 

Wapiti is an app/website vulnerability scanner and penetration tester. It supports GET and POST HTTP penetration attack methods. 

Rather than examining app codebases to uncover vulnerabilities, Wapiti uses a fuzzing technique to discover vulnerable scripts. It also allows users to set anomaly thresholds and will send alerts accordingly.

Features

  • Web app fingerprinting

  • Discovery of multiple SQL injection techniques

  • HTTP header security

  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF), server-side request forgery (SSRF), carriage return line feed (CRLF) injection, and brute force login detection

  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) proxy support

ProsCons
Scans folders, domains, pages, specific URLsNo graphical user interface
Five vulnerability report formats: TXT, JSON, HTML, XML, and CSVIdeal for experienced users only
Color-based vulnerability reporting
Customizable verbosity levels
Supports pausing and resuming pen testing and vulnerability scans

sqlmap

sqlmap is a vulnerability scanning and penetration testing tool primarily for databases. Its powerful penetration tester minimizes noise during scans and detects various database vulnerability types. 

Using DBMS credentials, database name, IP address, etc., it bypasses SQL injection when connecting to databases, minimizing false positives.

Features

  • Covers various SQL injection techniques, including stacked queries

  • Support for several database services, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Oracle 

  • Password hash format detection

ProsCons
Accurate vulnerability detection with advanced detection engineCommand-line tool only
Dictionary-based password crackingHas a steep learning curve
User, role, table, column, and database enumerationLimited to database vulnerability scans

Burp Suite

Burp Suite is a web app security platform that includes a suite of tools, including Burp Spider, Burp Proxy, and Burp Intruder for vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. 

It has a free Burp Suite Community Edition and a paid Burp Suite Enterprise Edition, which differ in terms of performance and capabilities. 

Features (of the free version)

  • CI/CD integration

  • Container scanning

  • Burp Proxy for tracking website traffic

  • Burp Spider for crawling apps and decoding app data 

  • Burp Repeater for discovery of input-based vulnerabilities, e.g., SQL injection 

ProsCons
Easy to set upManual web app testing, not automated
Standard software and Kubernetes Helm chart deploymentLimited number of features compared to other open-source tools
Compliance auditsConsiderably slower with large workloads
Intrusion detection only, cannot conduct pen testing

Skipfish

Skipfish is an automated website, web app, and penetration testing solution for content management systems (CMS). Using recursive crawling and dictionary-based probing, Skipfish creates an interactive, annotated sitemap that displays vulnerability pathways and exposed directories/parameters.

Features

  • Has 15+ penetration testing modules

  • Uncovers server-side query, XML/XPath, and shell command injection (including blind injection vectors)

  • Reveals invalid SSL certificates and problematic cache directives

  • Tracks various enumeration attack types

ProsCons
Written in C; consumes minimal CPU resourcesNo database of known vulnerabilities
Fast scans; runs 2,000 requests per secondOnly ideal for Kali Linux platforms
Heuristics approach that minimizes false positivesLimited to penetration testing; does not resolve vulnerabilities
Intrusive scans; may temporarily disrupt website activity during scans

Choosing a best-fit tool

The top open-source tools presented above have features that may make them ideal for small enterprises with low-risk data. However, for enterprises with more sensitive data and infrastructure, OSS tools have some important limitations, including their complexity, compatibility issues, and limited capabilities. 

Open-source tools do not offer comprehensive vulnerability assessments of an enterprise’s entire stacks, meaning organizations may have to integrate many such tools to fully cover their cloud. Furthermore, even if all the necessary integrations are compatible—and this can be quite the challenge—using multiple solutions increases their complexity and may result in inefficiencies. 

Wiz's approach to vulnerability management

As part of it's cloud-native application protection platform, Wiz's vulnerability management solution offers a robust, agentless, and cloud-native approach designed to manage and mitigate vulnerabilities across a variety of cloud environments and workloads. It's highlights include:

  • Agentless Technology: Wiz uses an agentless scanning approach, leveraging a one-time cloud-native API deployment. This method allows for continuous workload assessment across various environments without the need for deploying agents, thus simplifying maintenance and ensuring full coverage.

  • Comprehensive Coverage: The solution offers broad vulnerability visibility across multiple cloud platforms (AWS, GCP, Azure, OCI, Alibaba Cloud, VMware vSphere, etc.) and technologies (VMs, serverless functions, containers, container registries, virtual appliances, and managed compute resources). It supports over 70,000 vulnerabilities, covering 30+ operating systems, and includes the CISA KEV catalog along with thousands of applications​.

  • Contextual Risk-Based Prioritization: Wiz prioritizes vulnerabilities based on environmental risk, enabling teams to focus on remediations that will have the most significant impact on their security posture. This reduces alert fatigue by correlating vulnerabilities with multiple risk factors, including external exposure and misconfigurations, to surface the most critical vulnerabilities that should be addressed first.

  • Deep Assessment: The solution is capable of detecting hidden vulnerabilities, such as nested Log4j dependencies, across a wide range of environments including VMs, containers, serverless functions, and more. This ensures that even the most deeply buried vulnerabilities are uncovered​.

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