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 ten best network security auditing tools:
- SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager – EDITOR’S CHOICE This package enables the standardization of network device configurations, which are then backed up to be restored if an unauthorized change occurs. Runs on Windows Server. Get a 30-day free trial.
- N-able N-sight – FREE TRIAL Secures its spot at number three in our list of best network security auditing tools.
- ManageEngine Log360 – FREE TRIAL A SIEM system that includes a log manager to funnel source data through to the security analyzer. Runs on Windows Server.
- ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer – FREE TRIAL A collector and manager for log messages that includes templates for threat hunting and compliance reporting. Available for Windows Server and Linux.
- 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.
- Metasploit One of the most popular open-source penetration testing tools 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
What should you look for in a network security auditing tool?
We reviewed the market for network security auditing systems and analyzed options based on the following criteria:
- Network device configuration standardization
- Configuration backup and restoration to prevent tampering
- Log message collection, consolidation, and filing
- Searches for indications of intrusion
- A feedback system that can update firewall rules to tighten security
- A free trial or a demo package to enable the system to be assessed before purchase
- Value for money from a competent security tool offered at a fair price
With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for a range of network security services that, when adopted in combination will provide effective network security auditing.
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.
- Built for medium to enterprise size networks, with features designed to streamline troubleshooting and revert config settings quickly
- Can automatically discover new devices on the network and provide templated health reports for immediate insights upon installation
- Offers configuration management, allowing teams to quickly backup and restore changes that may have impacted performance
- Can monitor settings for unauthorized changes and specific teams or managers
- Not designed for home networks, this is an enterprise tool built for system administrators and network technicians
You can try SolarWinds NCM on your network free through a 30-day trial.
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is our top pick for a network security auditing tool because it focuses on securing switches and routers, which are the core of any network. The package scans your installed devices and identifies security weaknesses, recommending configuration changes to improve protection for the entire network. With this tool, you can standardize the settings of each make and model of device, store that configuration, and then apply it to all devices of the same type. This stored image can also be applied to new devices, automating onboarding. The SolarWinds system constantly checks on the network’s switches and will reapply the stored configuration image if it detects unauthorized changes.
Get a 30-day free trial: https://www.solarwinds.com/network-configuration-manager/registration
Operating system: Windows Server
N-able N-sight 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 N-sight 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 N-sight 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 N-sight 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.
- Highly scalable cloud-based platform
- Flexible pricing (great for small and growing MSPs)
- Offers numerous white-label products that make it easy to expand your offerings
- Integrates well with N-able RMM
- Would like to see a longer trial period
Since N-able N-sight is a SaaS, installation is simple and billing is done through a subscription-based model. You can test out all of N-able N-sight features through a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine Log360 is a SIEM package that is bundled with a log management service. SIEMs mine logs for event information and so the quality of the SIEM is very dependent on the thoroughness of the log collection system. ManageEngine makes sure it feeds its SIEM good quality log data.
The log collector gathers data from more than 700 systems, including Windows events and Syslog messages from operating systems. Logs are sent to a central server where they are converted into a common format and filed.
The Log360 dashboard includes a data viewer and this displays live tail records as they are processed through the log server. The data viewer includes analytical tools and it is also possible to read in records from log files. It is possible to set up your own automated search rules that can run constantly and trigger alerts. For example, it is easy to use this service for file integrity monitoring.
The main automated data analysis and security research system in the Log360 package is the SIEM. The system identifies each user and device in the system and sets out a database listing each of these and establishing a baseline of normal activity per entity. This strategy is known as user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). The behavior profiles form the basis for anomaly detection.
When the SIEM detects suspicious activity, it raises an alert, which is shown in the Log360 dashboard. You can also set up the service so that it forwards alerts as notifications through the ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus, Jira, and Kayoko service desk ticketing systems.
The orderly storage of log files makes this is a good tool for compliance auditing. The package also includes compliance report templates for PCI DSS, GDPR, FISMA, HIPAA, SOX, and GLBA.
- Great dashboard visualizations, ideal for NOCs and MSPs
- Can integrate multiple threat data steams into the platform
- Offers robust searching of logs for live and historical event analysis
- Provides monitoring cross-platform for Windows, Linux, and Unix systems
- Can monitor configuration changes, preventing privilege escalation
- ManageEngine offers a suite of advanced services and features can time to explore and test out
The Log360 software bundle installs on Windows Server and you can assess it with a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is a log management system that includes analysis tools. There isn’t a full SIEM in this package but you can set up your own queries to run automatically and add on rules to trigger alerts, creating a custom security auditing package. Usages include threat hunting, event correlation, and file integrity monitoring. Alerts can be sent as notifications by email, SMS, PagerDuty, and Slack.
The EventLog Analyzer package includes log collectors and a central log server. The collectors gather data from more than 700 sources, which include operating systems, database management systems, and Web servers.
The log server consolidates all logs into a standard format and displays newly arrived records in a data viewer. This screen includes tools for searching, sorting, and parsing records, which includes a tagging system and a filtering mechanism. The service also has templates of searches that relate to specific types of analysis, such as threat hunting.
The EventLog Analyzer package includes templates for PCI DSS, FISMA, GLBA, SOX, HIPAA, and ISO 27001. The log manager rotates files and stores them in a meaningful directory structure, which facilitates compliance auditing.
- Customizable dashboards that work great for network operation centers
- Multiple alert channels ensure teams are notified across SMS, email, or app integration
- Uses anomaly detection to assist technicians in their day-to-day operations
- Supports files integrity monitoring that can act as an early warning system for ransomware, data theft, and permission access issues
- Forensic log audit features enable admins to create reports for legal cases or investigations
- Can take time to fully explore the ManageEngine ecosytem
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer runs on Windows Server and Linux. The service is available in three editions: Free, Premium, and Distributed. The Free edition is limited to five log sources. The Premium edition will cover one site and the Distributed system will centralize security tracking for multiple sites. You can access the Standard edition on a 30-day free 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.
- 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
- While the tool is highly intuitive, it is still can require quite some time to fully explore all of the platforms features
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.
- Completely free and open-source tool
- Massive open source community to support plugins and new features
- Highly customizable, supports lua scripting
- Lightweight tool
- Completely free
- 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
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.
- Open source transparent tool
- Large dedicated community
- Completely free
- Enterprises will likely want a tool with support
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.
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.
- Open-source tool with huge community
- Supports in-depth penetration testing for more detailed manual tests
- Highly customizable
- Steeper learning curve, designed for security teams and network professionals
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.
9. 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.
- Available for Mac, Linux, and Windows
- Supports SNMP for custom alert integrations
- Offers licensing management alongside security scans
- Feels like its better at licensing management than security scanning at times
- Trial period could be longer
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.
10. 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.
- 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
- Could use a longer trial period
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. N-able N-sight is likewise powerful and runs via the cloud.
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.