OpenVAS - The World's Most Advanced Open Source Vulnerability Scanner and Manager

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Open Vulnerability Assessment System (OpenVAS) is a framework of several services and tools. The core of this SSL-secured service-oriented architecture is the OpenVAS Scanner. The scanner very efficiently executes the actual Network Vulnerability Tests (NVTs) which are served with daily updates via the OpenVAS NVT Feed or via a commercial feed service.

The OpenVAS Manager is the central service that consolidates plain vulnerability scanning into a full vulnerability management solution. The Manager controls the Scanner via OTP (OpenVAS Transfer Protocol) and itself offers the XML-based, stateless OpenVAS Management Protocol (OMP). All intelligence is implemented in the Manager so that it is possible to implement various lean clients that will behave consistently e.g. with regard to filtering or sorting scan results. The Manager also controls a SQL database (sqlite-based) where all configuration and scan result data is centrally stored. Finally, Manager also handles user management includiung access control with groups and roles.

The OpenVAS protocols

Different OMP clients are available: The Greenbone Security Assistant (GSA) is a lean web service offering a user interface for web browsers. GSA uses XSL transformation stylesheet that converts OMP responses into HTML.

OpenVAS CLI contains the command line tool "omp" which allows to create batch processes to drive OpenVAS Manager. Another tool of this package is a Nagios plugin. 

Most of the tools listed above share functionality that is aggregated in the OpenVAS Libraries.

The OpenVAS Scanner offers the communication protocol OTP (OpenVAS Transfer Protocol) which allows to control the scan execution. This protocol is subject to be eventually replaced and thus it is not recommended to develop OTP clients.

Feature overview

  • OpenVAS Scanner
    • Many target hosts are scanned concurrently
    • OpenVAS Transfer Protocol (OTP)
    • SSL support for OTP (always)
    • WMI support (optional)
    • ...
  • OpenVAS Manager
    • OpenVAS Management Protocol (OMP)
    • SQL Database (sqlite) for configurations and scan results
    • SSL support for OMP (always)
    • Many concurrent scans tasks (many OpenVAS Scanners)
    • Notes management for scan results
    • False Positive management for scan results
    • Scheduled scans
    • Flexible escalators upon status of a scan task
    • Stop, Pause and Resume of scan tasks
    • Master-Slave Mode to control many instances from a central one
    • Reports Format Plugin Framework with various plugins for: XML, HTML, LateX, etc.
    • User Management
    • Feed status view
    • Feed synchronisation
    • ...
  • Greenbone Security Assistant (GSA)
    • Client for OMP and OAP
    • HTTP and HTTPS
    • Web server on its own (microhttpd), thus no extra web server required
    • Integrated online-help system
    • Multi-language support
    • ...
  • OpenVAS CLI
    • Client for OMP
    • Runs on Windows, Linux, etc.
    • Plugin for Nagios
    • ...

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