You may think your network is secure, but how do you know you’re really safe from certain threats?
Network security auditing is key for protecting any business that utilizes networked resources.
In this article, we’ll dive into some of the best network security auditing tools that help identify security risks, and get them closed fast.
Here’s our shortlist of the nine best network security auditing tools:
- SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager – FREE TRIAL Designed for sysadmins to audit their network as well as deploy configuration changes to devices across the network.
- Intruder Cloud-based vulnerability scanner that performs monthly scans that can support multiple networks and clients.
- Nmap Classic security auditing tool that has been a staple among security professionals and hackers since the early 1990s.
- OpenVAS Free and open-source tool that offers detailed security auditing specifically for Linux environments.
- N-able RMM Secures its spot at number three in our list of best network security auditing tools.
- ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus A very detailed but simple security auditing tool that can quickly identify high-risk activity, configurations, and outdated devices on your network.
- Metasploit One of the most popular open-source penetration testing software on the market today.
- Netwrix Auditor Monitoring and configuration changes, permissions groups, and risk analysis across large networks.
- Kaseya VSA An RMM software that can run security risk audits as well as perform network discovery and endpoint management.
The Best Network Security Auditing Tools
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) is designed for sysadmins to audit their network as well as deploy configuration changes to devices across the network. This combination of features allows you to not only make security-related configuration changes but also monitor for new and unauthorized changes on your devices.
The tool automatically scans and monitors the network for devices, and allows you to decide how you want to manage the security of your network, and the devices that reside in it. From a centralized dashboard Network Configuration Manager can detect and alert you to the most pressing security events right away, so there’s no guessing what to prioritize first.
What’s especially great about this tool is that you remain in control of everything. For instance, you can choose to either be alerted when devices are missing firmware updates, or have the updates automatically applied. Oftentimes systems and software can break when trying to apply new updates or security changes, creating additional work. With NCM, you’re completely in control of how each risk is handled.
The platform has a robust alerting feature that allows for alerts on new configuration changes, as well as new risks that are detected. The tool even has a rollback feature which gives you the option to quickly roll back to a certain configuration status of your choosing.
SolarWinds supports dozens of integrations so porting alerts over to your ticketing system is also a viable option if you run a NOC or helpdesk. Lastly, reporting can be set to produce quarterly reports or detail specifics on what a security audit has detected.
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is one of the best networking auditing tools in its class. It’s truly built for medium size to enterprise-level networks that want to take a proactive approach to security, while still staying in control of how that is done.
You can try SolarWinds NCM on your network free through a 30-day trial.
Intruder is another cloud-based vulnerability scanner that performs monthly scans that can support multiple networks and clients. During the initial setup, a full scan is run on the system to check for the latest exploits, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations. Each scan covers over 10,000 known vulnerabilities and that number continues to grow as Intruder updates its backend database.
The endpoint agent can also offer a unique look for inside threats, detecting configuration changes, and rogue activity coming from behind the firewall. Once a scan is complete, all of these details are elegantly mapped out through a simple and easy-to-understand dashboard. Threats and risks are automatically prioritized so you can see what needs to be resolved first.
The platform also gives sysadmins a unique overview of their security posture, allowing them to track their progress over time, and see what some of the most common and dangerous threats are to the network through a quick glance at the audit report.
Intruder is a subscription-based service that comes in three packages, Essentials, Pro, and Verified. All of these plans include an automatic monthly scan, with the Verified plan including a live penetration testing team for additional support.
You can try out Intruder free with a 30-day trial.
Nmap is a classic security auditing tool that has been a staple among security professionals and hackers since the early 1990s. This open-source tool has been kept alive through a dedicated community that has worked to add new features and eliminate bugs over the years. Unlike the other tools on our list, Nmap is a command-line tool, meaning you’ll have to learn syntax in order to properly use it.
Rather than providing you a report based on what software thinks is a security risk, Nmap gives you raw information about your network’s port status, the type of services you’re running, and what operating system could be behind an IP address. Since Nmap requires you to read between the lines, this tool is more suited for pen-testers and dedicated sysadmins who want to take complete control of their network security auditing.
While the tool can seem primitive, in the right hands it has powerful applications. Lua scripts can be written to build out automatic scans and condition-based reports. Nmap is a great tool to deploy against your network when you already have a firewall in place, but really want to put your security to the test.
With Nmap, you’ll have full control over exactly what range of IP addresses and ports you scan, and even customize exactly how they are scanned in order to avoid detection from your network's security features. If you can’t stand command-line tools, Nmap has a clone called Zenmap which offers almost identical features but through a graphical user interface.
The tool remains one of the most popular port scanning software due to its simple syntax and dedicated open-source community. Nmap is completely free and supports Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and UNIX.
OpenVAS is another free and open-source tool that offers detailed security auditing specifically for Linux environments.
What makes OpenVAS so powerful is that its backend database is updated daily and includes over 80,000 vulnerabilities to test for. This massive open-source project has been maintained since 2009 by Greenbone Network, which also runs its own paid GSM appliances.
Since this tool is open source, it will require a bit more learning and setup than some of the managed tools on this list. While OpenVAS is free, you’ll be on your own to learn how its features are set up, as well as troubleshoot any problems that arise along the way.
5. N-able RMM
N-able RMM secures its spot at number three in our list of best network security auditing tools. While SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is great for individual companies, N-able RMM is tailored for MSPs who manage multiple clients and want to offer auditing as a service.
This cloud-based tool provides remote monitoring as well as risk management and threat detection across multiple sites or clients simultaneously. From a centralized dashboard, you can view risks on a per company, per facility, or in total view.
Details such as the number of problem devices, backup status, and health checks can all be seen through a simple security digest that the dashboard provides. The entire platform is entirely customizable, allowing you to create unique dashboard views for your network operation center, and other departments as needed.
Auditing templates help keep scans simple and pick up on specific compliance issues as well. For instance, there are built-in tools that can specifically scan and confirm if your network is currently HIPAA or PCI compliant and provide a supporting report. The risk management section of N-able RMM can scan and locate all Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and track how and where it moves across the network.
This level of risk management can stop specific information from leaving the network, as well as alerting when information is accessed inappropriately. Security permissions can be scanned on files and folders to uncover incorrect permissions on user accounts based on company records as well.
Lastly, N-able RMM has a strong patch management system, which allows you to create a template of the patching process. So if there are updates you know that interfere with specific software you can copy these patch templates across to all of your clients in your MSP.
Since N-able RMM is a SaaS, installation is simple and billing is done through a subscription-based model. You can test out all of N-able RMM features through a 30-day trial.
6. ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus
ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus is a very detailed but simple security auditing tool that can quickly identify high-risk activity, configurations, and outdated devices on your network. The tool also scans for known vulnerabilities and exploits that are being used to break into networks as well as propagate malware.
After setting up Vulnerability Manager Plus, the tool will automatically perform a scan and set to scan the network periodically through automated checks. This helps busy admins set it and forget it until they are alerted to risks that need to be resolved. The tool can scan the network ports and even audit software on Windows, Linux, and macOS systems making this a great tool for networks that have a diverse range of operating systems.
Endpoints checks in with the centralized dashboard every 90 minutes to keep security managers and network operation centers consistently in the loop. Like SolarWinds, ManageEngine has tons of integrations into some of the largest ticketing systems on the market, making this a great choice for MSPs and large helpdesk teams.
In addition to suggested network changes, Vulnerability Manager Plus comes with a robust patch management system that can automatically detect missing patches, and push them out upon your approval. With almost all the risk the platform finds, you’ll receive actionable steps to solving the issue, which is again great when offloading these tasks to a helpdesk.
Vulnerability Manager Plus comes in three tiers, starting with a free version that is limited to 25 machines. You can test out the full version completely free on your network through a 30-day trial.
Metasploit is arguably one of the most popular open-source penetration testing software on the market today. The Metasploit framework allows you to attack your network from the perspective of the hacker, giving you a unique perspective into exactly how your security systems respond and handle specific threats.
The framework comes with over 500 payloads you can use in conjunction with exploits to attack your network and put your systems to the true test. A massive open-source community has kept Metasploit one of the most popular security auditing tools, and now includes integrations into tools such as Nmap and Nessus Pro. This allows you to import results from port scans and other tests directly into Metasploit of analysis.
Like Nmap, Metasploit is truly geared towards professionals in their field who would rather analyze raw threat data, than receive a summary generated by another piece of software. The great thing about Metasploit is that most dedicated techs can sit down and learn how to use the system in an afternoon if they’re so inclined.
Metasploit is also available as a paid tool, called Metasploit Pro. This pro version includes features like remote API integrations, OWASP vulnerability testing, automated workflows, and a simple web interface. The Metasploit Framework is completely free, while the pro version can be tested free for 14-days.
8. Netwrix Auditor
Netwrix Auditor does an excellent job at monitoring and configuration changes, permissions groups, and risk analysis across large networks. What’s unique is you can view a complete audit chain of exactly who changed what, and when that change took place.
The system can not only detect risks, but also identify when someone is attempting to scan your network with a port scanner, or attempting logins into an account that continuously fails. These features are both ideal for detecting and stopping outside and insider threats alike.
A simple dashboard can visually alert you to these changes and attempts through a color-coded system and will display red when an alert is triggered. This is great for network operation centers and can be displayed on a centralized screen. Tickets can also be generated based on events, or email alerts can be sent out to specific groups.
Through the Netwrix Auditor, you can configure automated responses when a certain alert is generated, which is incredibly powerful and effective when done correctly. For example, you can write a script that disables an account automatically if it is behaving abnormally or making configuration changes that fall out of its scope.
If a condition in the automation fails, you can then choose to generate a helpdesk ticket. Automation can drastically reduce the number of tickets generated when implemented and tested over time.
The entire platform is based on the REST API framework which makes it a great choice for those who need a security auditing tool that can integrate with other platforms and solutions. There is a completely free community-based version of this software, but for more of the robust alerting capabilities, you’ll need to buy the full edition. You can download and test the software through a 20-day free trial.
9. Kaseya VSA
Kaseya VSA is an RMM software that can run security risk audits as well as perform network discovery and endpoint management. The network discovery component automatically stores device and network information alongside security and patching information. Global security and patching policies can be set per client, and deployed at scale, making Kaseya VSA a great option for MSPs and large enterprises with multiple networks.
The entire platform is incredibly customizable, which is ideal for sysadmins who like to leverage auditing tools, but still have a great deal of control over exactly how audits are run, and where that information is stored. A command and control dashboard allows sysadmins to track deployed agents, devices, and their risk status.
Condition and policy-based automation allow patching and security tasks to be carried out automatically, which again makes Kaseya a great tool to deploy when looking at scaling security services behind a dedicated team of technicians. The platform even has an Automation Exchange which is a community that shares over 500 different scripts and out-of-the-box configurations you can deploy right away.
Kaseya VSA is truly tailored for larger organizations and MSPs who plan to offer network security auditing as a part of their core services. With this said, accurate pricing is currently not publicly available. For additional information regarding pricing, contact the Kaseya sales team. You can test out Kaseya VSA in your network for free through a 14-day trial.
For almost any size network, SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager can provide simple yet detailed security auditing along with configuration management in a way that allows organizations to scale with the tool.
For more hands-on security tests that require customized and detailed attacks, the Metasploit Framework allows you to switch to the side of the attacker to see how your network truly holds up against different types of attacks.
Lastly, budget-conscious departments can leverage OpenVAS for powerful network auditing if the proper IT staff are in place to learn and become dedicated to the platform.
Do you have a favorite network security auditing tool? Let us know what it is and why you love it in the comments below.