OPENVAS ULTIMATE GUIDE

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OpenVAS (Open Vulnerability Assessment Scanner) is a robust open-source tool designed for performing comprehensive vulnerability scans and security assessments. It offers a wide array of features, including automated scans, detailed reporting, and an extensive database of known vulnerabilities, making it a vital component in any cybersecurity toolkit.

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Section 1

Installation & Setup

Installing and setting up OpenVAS, an open-source vulnerability scanning tool, is crucial for maintaining robust cybersecurity measures. This section guides through the installation process, initial configuration, and common troubleshooting steps, ensuring a smooth and effective deployment of OpenVAS in your security infrastructure.

To install OpenVAS, start by ensuring your system meets the necessary prerequisites: a compatible operating system (such as a recent version of Debian or Ubuntu), sufficient disk space, and network connectivity. Begin the installation by updating your package lists: sudo apt-get update. Then, install OpenVAS and its components with sudo apt-get install openvas. This command downloads and installs the latest version of OpenVAS along with its required libraries and components.

sudo apt-get install openvas

After installation, run sudo gvm-setup to configure all necessary components, including the creation of an admin user. The setup script configures the various services OpenVAS requires to run properly. Once the setup completes, execute sudo gvm-start to start all OpenVAS services.

sudo gvm-start

You can now access the OpenVAS web interface through the URL provided at the end of the setup process, usually https://<Your-IP-Address>:9392.

Once OpenVAS is installed, initial configuration involves setting up user accounts, adjusting scan settings, and updating the vulnerability database. Log into the OpenVAS web interface using the credentials created during the installation process. Navigate to the ‘Administration’ section to manage user accounts, allowing you to add or remove users and assign appropriate roles and permissions.

In the ‘Scans’ section, configure your scan targets and tasks. Define the IP ranges, hostnames, or URLs you want to scan, and create scanning tasks by selecting the type of scan and the targets to apply. Regularly update your vulnerability database to ensure OpenVAS can detect the latest threats. This can be done through the command sudo greenbone-nvt-sync, which should be scheduled to run daily for optimal security.

sudo greenbone-nvt-sync

Common issues during OpenVAS setup include problems with service start-up, updates not completing, and login issues. If services fail to start, check the log files in /var/log/gvm/ for any error messages. Issues with updating the vulnerability database often relate to network problems; ensure your server can reach the internet and that no firewalls are blocking the update processes.

cd /var/log/gvm/

If you encounter login problems, verify that the OpenVAS services are running correctly and listen on the expected ports. Use commands like sudo gvm-check-setup to diagnose and resolve setup issues. Additionally, the community forums and documentation are excellent resources for troubleshooting specific problems.

sudo gvm-check-setup

Section 2

Features and Capabilities

OpenVAS offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to assess and manage vulnerabilities within your network. This section delves into the core functionalities, practical use cases, and inherent limitations of OpenVAS, providing a clear understanding of how the tool can enhance your cybersecurity posture.

OpenVAS is renowned for its extensive vulnerability scanning capabilities, supporting a wide range of network devices, operating systems, and applications. It utilizes a constantly updated database of vulnerability tests (Network Vulnerability Tests, NVTs) to detect security weaknesses. Features include automated scanning, detailed reporting, and severity classification of found vulnerabilities, enabling targeted and effective remediation efforts.

The tool’s web interface, Greenbone Security Assistant, offers user-friendly access to manage scans, view reports, and configure settings. OpenVAS can perform unauthenticated scans (testing from an outsider’s perspective) and authenticated scans (testing with internal access), providing a comprehensive view of system vulnerabilities.

OpenVAS is used across various scenarios, from routine network audits to incident response. Its applications include compliance testing, where it helps ensure that systems adhere to security standards like PCI DSS or HIPAA. In regular security assessments, OpenVAS identifies vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers, aiding in the prioritization of remediation efforts.

Additionally, OpenVAS serves as a valuable educational tool, helping security professionals and students understand the impact of vulnerabilities and the importance of regular testing. By integrating OpenVAS with incident response protocols, organizations can rapidly identify and mitigate the vulnerabilities exploited in an attack.

While OpenVAS is a powerful tool, it has limitations. Its performance can vary based on network size and the number of scans, potentially leading to slower scan times and increased network traffic. Being open-source, it may lack the immediate support and updates provided by commercial products, although the community support can mitigate this issue.

Additionally, false positives and negatives can occur, requiring manual verification of results for accuracy. OpenVAS primarily focuses on network vulnerabilities, meaning it may not cover all aspects of cybersecurity, such as insider threats or advanced persistent threats (APTs), without integration with other security solutions.

Section 3

Advanced Usage and Techniques

Beyond basic vulnerability scanning, OpenVAS can be leveraged for in-depth security analysis and integrated into a larger security infrastructure. This section explores advanced features, best practices for effective scanning, and how OpenVAS can work alongside other tools to provide a comprehensive security overview.

OpenVAS supports advanced scanning techniques, such as credentialed scans that allow deeper access to systems for assessing local vulnerabilities, patch levels, and compliance with security policies. The tool can also perform targeted scans focused on specific vulnerabilities or systems, increasing efficiency and reducing network impact.

Schedule regular scans to continuously assess the security posture of your network and automatically generate and email reports for timely review. Utilize the Greenbone Security Feed for up-to-date information on vulnerabilities and configure OpenVAS to use custom feeds or plugins, enhancing its detection capabilities based on your specific environment.

For optimal use of OpenVAS, follow best practices such as segmenting your network into logical units and scanning them separately to reduce load and increase focus. Prioritize vulnerabilities based on severity, exploitability, and impact on your specific environment to address the most critical issues first.

Regularly update the NVTs and the OpenVAS software itself to ensure detection of the latest vulnerabilities. Handle false positives by verifying scan results and adjusting scan configurations to reduce inaccuracies. Ensure that scan reports are reviewed by knowledgeable personnel and that remediation actions are tracked and verified.

Integrating OpenVAS with other security tools enhances its capabilities and provides a more holistic view of your security posture. Combine OpenVAS with intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and other vulnerability management tools to correlate data and automate response actions.

Use APIs to integrate OpenVAS with ticketing systems, enabling automatic ticket creation for high-severity vulnerabilities. This facilitates prompt response and tracking of issue resolution. Additionally, integrating OpenVAS scans into your CI/CD pipeline can help identify vulnerabilities early in the development process, contributing to a more secure software lifecycle.

Section 4

FAQs

Addressing common questions and clarifications about OpenVAS provides users with a clearer understanding and more effective use of the tool.

  • Q: Is OpenVAS free? A: Yes, OpenVAS is free and open-source, available for anyone to download, use, and modify under the GNU General Public License.
  • Q: How often should I update OpenVAS? A: Update the NVTs daily and the OpenVAS software whenever updates are released to ensure detection of the latest vulnerabilities and optimal performance.
  • Q: Can OpenVAS scan for all types of vulnerabilities? A: While OpenVAS covers a wide range of vulnerabilities, no tool can detect every possible security issue. It is best used as part of a comprehensive security strategy.
  • Q: Does OpenVAS support scanning of remote locations? A: Yes, OpenVAS can scan remote systems and networks, provided it is legally permitted and the network is configured to allow such scans.

  • Misconception: OpenVAS can replace a complete cybersecurity strategy. Clarification: While OpenVAS is a valuable tool for vulnerability scanning, it should be used as part of a broader cybersecurity approach, including policies, training, and other security measures.
  • Misconception: OpenVAS scans are always accurate. Clarification: Like any scanning tool, OpenVAS may produce false positives and negatives. Results should be manually reviewed and verified for accuracy.

Section 5

OPENVAS USEFUL COMMANDS

This section provides a curated list of essential OpenVAS commands that facilitate various operations, from updating security feeds and starting services to managing users and launching scans. Each command comes with a succinct title and a concise description, enabling efficient management and utilization of the OpenVAS vulnerability assessment tool.

Synchronizes the latest network vulnerability tests from the Greenbone Security Feed.

sudo greenbone-nvt-sync

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Initiates all necessary services for OpenVAS to function, including the scanner and manager.

sudo gvm-start

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Verifies the proper setup and configuration of the OpenVAS environment.

sudo gvm-check-setup

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Adds a new user to the OpenVAS management interface with specified credentials.

sudo gvm-create-user <username> --password=<password>

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Executes a vulnerability scan using direct XML or GMP commands through the GVM command line interface.

gvm-cli socket --xml "<create_task>...</create_task>"

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Updates the Greenbone Vulnerability Manager with the latest security information and data feeds.

sudo greenbone-feed-sync --type GVMD_DATA

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Halts all running OpenVAS services, effectively stopping all scan activities and processes.

sudo gvm-stop

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Retrieves and displays a list of all configured scanning tasks in the OpenVAS database.

gvm-cli socket --xml '<get_tasks/>'

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Regenerates and updates the certificates required for OpenVAS’s secure operation.

sudo gvm-manage-certs -a

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Removes a specific scanning task from OpenVAS using its unique identifier (UUID).

gvm-cli socket --xml '<delete_task task_id="UUID"/>'

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The cybersecurity information provided on this site is strictly for educational use. We hold no responsibility for misuse and urge users to apply these skills ethically, on networks or systems where they have explicit authorization – such as a private home lab.