A technically better website vulnerability scanner can change the security outlook completely.

Are web scanners important for startups and small businesses? 43% of all cyber-attacks target small businesses.

Is an automated web vulnerability scanner better than penetration testing?

Often businesses are confused about the question. What’s the difference and should they choose one over the other? Automated testing and penetration testing are not against each other. Both of them have different use cases. Penetration testing is suggested for web assets with serious exploitation risks, but automated testing is for every web property. 

In fact, successful companies use both these testing methodologies to keep hackers away. Automated testing is used for weekly/monthly assessments and penetration testing after a major update or change.

While it’s super simple to run a Google search and find such statistics, we need to understand the real problem. Over the last few years, several startup founders and CEOs have admitted that growing business in the only thing on their mind. Interestingly, most of them aren’t concerned about attacks.

Scaling is the only thing on their mind. Plus, they believe that hackers are only after huge companies. Well, you can’t blame them. With limited capital and few resources in the team, hiring cybersecurity guys is a secondary task.

However, website vulnerabilities leak to hacking. There are a number of online free tools that hackers use to find security loopholes across the internet. Businesses need to be aware of such problems months before hackers can actually do something.

Best Website Vulnerability Tools in 2020

In this piece, we bring you the most trusted and popular website security scanners. These tools will help you keep web assets secure from hackers.

1. Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner

Acunetix was the first website vulnerability scanner that came out in the market back in 2005. As a Dynamic Application Security Testing Tool, it identifies and reports common security issues including XSS, SQLI, and CSRF.

With an online dashboard, you get simplified reports. This testing scanner is compatible with third-party issue trackers such as Jira, GitLab, GitHub, TFS, Bugzilla, and Mantis. This is one of the best features of the web vulnerability scanner.

  • Online dashboard
  • Scans for over 2000 vulnerabilities
  • Easy to use

One-line description: The oldest assessment tool on the market.

2. Qualys Web Application Scanner

Qualys WAS is one of the popular choices to find and fix issues in web apps, APIs, and IoT. Built on robust cloud infrastructure, Qualys offers a comprehensive DAST tool that covers OWASP Top 10 risks such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and unvalidated redirection.

Qualys WAS is also capable of detecting malware, issues on the API, and JS. The cloud dashboard makes it simpler to compile and report issues for the stakeholders.

  • Comprehensive scans
  • Cloud Infra
  • Compatible with API-based Connectors

One-line description: The fully-cloud website security scanner.

3. Tenable Scanning

Automated Web Application Scanning from Tenable provides context-based vulnerability results. The assessment tool is part of their Cyber Exposure platform where you can view and manage risks across different types of network and web app assets across the business.

Tenable automated scans report the most common security flaws including OWASP and SANS lists. The safe tests are designed not to affect the efficiency or latency of your asset.

  • Unified Security Dashboard
  • Zero Latency Tests
  • HTML and HTML Support

One-line description: The modern security scanner.

4. NetSparker Online Vulnerability Scanner

Although one of the most experienced security assessment tools, NetSparker is not for every business. The yearly cost of this web vulnerability scan tool can easily cross $12000 a year for a medium-sized business. 

The automated scanning tool identifies even the most complex vulnerabilities across every asset. NetSparker has developed a deep crawling technology that can test all kinds of web applications including custom-built HTML5, Web 2.0 and Single Page Applications. The reports include a practical guide on how to identify, prioritize, and solve the security flaw.

  • Scans Every Web App
  • Basic Plan @ $7000
  • Integration in the SDLC and  DevOps

One-line description: The robust security scanner for big businesses.

5. Mister Scanner

It’s the one web scanning tool that startups should at least try once. While the basic version offers acceptable results, the reports are something else. Each report is curated for the client with the help of an AI-powered bot and a cybersecurity expert.

The simplified reports tell decision-makers about the priority of the security loopholes and how they affect your business. Mister Scanner also offers phone alerts for critical issues and website downtime. And it’s the cheapest tool on the market.

  • Curated reports with easy to understand analysis
  • $5 scan plans
  • Phone/WhatsApp alerts

One-line description: Effective scanning at low costs.

6. Detectify

Detectify is one of the better web vulnerability scanning tools for companies that have a security team in place. It provides deep insights for over a thousand vulnerabilities. Even if your startup or small business has 1-2 security people in the team, Detectify can do wonders.

Pricing-wise, it is on the steeper side costing $50-100 depending on your requirement but most funded/profitable companies will be happy to pay for it.

  • Tests for 1000+ vulnerabilities
  • Basic plan starts at $50
  • Best suited for the security team

One-line description: Simple tool for security teams

7. Probely

This is one of the startups doing wonders in the field. Probely is pitched as a testing tool for everyone. It can be used by security teams, developers and DevOps. Again, if you have people on the team that understand security, Probely would be one of the options to look into.

Pricing-wise, it offers one free plan but for deeper insights, you will have to pay from $39 to $399 a month.

  • Developer-centric
  • Security Guidance
  • Basic Free Plan

One-line description: For developers and DevOps

8. WhiteHat Security

WhiteHat is one of the oldest players in the industry with years of experience in finding and remediating web vulnerabilities. While small businesses might find it expensive, this tool offers deep scanning with more features than any other product on this list.

This tool is pitched as a fast, easy-to-use web vulnerability scanner but people from the non-tech backgrounds will find it difficult. Again, like most of the scanning tools in the market, you will need someone in the team to handle it.

  • Deep Scanning
  • Expensive
  • On-premise and SaaS

One-line description: Thorough, deep web scanning

9. Sucuri

Sucuri’s popular malware and security scanner is one of the most basic tools out there. It’s free and apt for mini businesses that cannot afford to pay for a security tool. From malware checking to defacement, it offers everything basic you will need.

However, the basic version has drawn a lot of flak from security experts for not really adding any value. I recommend using it only ad an add-on tool and not to rely on totally.

  • Basic Malware Check
  • WordPress Support
  • Free Plan

One-line description: Free basic scan for bloggers

10. UpGuard

When UpGuard was launched, I was super excited about the things it had to offer. A simple interface, no-bs scan, and easy reporting. It was one of the first web vulnerability scanners to make reporting simple. Today also, with so many players in the market, UpGaurd holds its ground.

While non-tech people might not be able to understand valuations and vulnerability types, developers will get a lot of insights from the reports. Easy security scoring further simplifies priorities for the security teams. If your business has complex vendor logic, I highly recommend UpGuard.

  • Simple Reports
  • Security Scores
  • Vendor Management

One-line description: Simplified vendor security management

11. Imperva Attack Analytics

Imperva and Incapsula are two of the most trusted brands in web security. With half a dozen tools for vulnerability management, DDoS protection, and web application security, it is given that the tools are expensive for the expertise you get.

This is not a vulnerability assessment tool per se but can help you gather intelligence on how hackers try to get in your web apps. You can learn from these observations and improve the security outlook.

Imperva has invested around a decade in ensuring that their vulnerability identifier automates everything. However, I recommend this for database security only. Their automated tool can prevent breaches with over 1500 tests including those for faulty user rights and misconfigurations. However, there is no free plan for Imperva. You will have to book a demo.

  • 1500 Tests
  • Automated Scanning
  • Database Support

One-line description: Automated scanning for web databases.

What is vulnerability?

It is a potential security threat that bots or hackers can exploit to their advantage. While we can go in detail of vulnerabilities, their categories, and severity, this is all that it is. A weakness that hackers use to steal data, cause downtime or assume control of the systems.

What is a website vulnerability scanner?

Traditionally, developers used to assume the role of a penetration tester to ensure security. However, over the last decade with exponential growth in digital businesses and hacking attempts, there was a need for something better.

The best automated web vulnerability scanner is a smart replacement for humans. Powered by AI and vulnerability data from across the world, automated scanners can test hundreds of apps in hours.

An automated vulnerability scanner equips businesses and bloggers to assess threat severity without actually paying for expensive penetration testing services.

What type of vulnerabilities are covered in a website security scanner?

There are many types of web vulnerability or security scanners. OWASP and SANS have listed the top vulnerabilities that websites should prioritize. Most modern automated testing tools identify and report these vulnerabilities. 

OWASP Top 10
  • Injection
  • Broken Authentication
  • Sensitive Data Exposure
  • XML External Entities (XEE)
  • Broken Access Control
  • Security Misconfiguration
  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • Insecure Deserialization
  • Using Components With Known Vulnerabilities
  • Insufficient Logging And Monitoring
  • Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type
  • Improper Certificate Validation
  • Improper Restriction of XML External Entity Reference
  • Improper Control of Generation of Code (‘Code Injection’)
  • Use of Hard-coded Credentials
  • Uncontrolled Resource Consumption
  • Missing Release of Resource after Effective Lifetime
  • Untrusted Search Path
  • Out-of-bounds Read
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  • Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an SQL Command (‘SQL Injection’)
  • Use After Free
  • Integer Overflow or Wraparound
  • Improper Restriction of Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer
  • Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation (‘Cross-site Scripting’)
  • Improper Input Validation
  • Information Exposure
  • Improper Limitation of a Pathname to a Restricted Directory (‘Path Traversal’)
  • Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an OS Command (‘OS Command Injection’)
  • Out-of-bounds Write
  • Improper Authentication
  • NULL Pointer Dereference
  • Incorrect Permission Assignment for Critical Resource
  • Deserialization of Untrusted Data
  • Improper Privilege Management

It is often said that security is not an event. It is a continuous process but if you need to prioritize one vulnerability list over the other, use OWASP Top 10.  

Reducing Risk Exposure

We have talked to several business owners and cybersecurity experts in the last few months. The most common website security concern is what to do with vulnerabilities? Developers are usually swamped in tickets and business priorities. How would one solve the issues?

  • Create an estimated mitigation timeline. Developers can pick ‘Critical’ or ‘Red’ vulnerabilities immediately and solve the other issues as they get time
  • Deploy a Web Application Firewall. This will help stop the threats before you fix them in the code. However, choose a WAF carefully. Most open-source WAFs can cause serious latency if you deploy a bunch of complex rules. 
  • If you can afford it, run an assessment warning report on a TV screen in the developers’ area.
  • You do not have to research from scratch to mitigate security risk. Most web vulnerability scanners offer a thorough report with expert recommendations on how to solve security threats.
  • Keep security research and learning repository. Developers, security advisers, and freelancers can learn from issues that have been solved in the past. It is not uncommon for companies to encounter similar security flaws frequently. 

Other Considerations

There is no doubt that every website, app, and API should be tested/scanned frequently. However, we have a few observations that you might want to consider before choosing the best web vulnerability scanner.

  • Most of the security products are interestingly overpriced. Ranging from $5000 to $11000 for a yearly assessment package, these scanning tools do not seem to have that kind of RoI.
  • Startups, small businesses, and bloggers do not need the same level of assessment as a bank or financial companies.
  • Do not even try to solve every possible vulnerability. It is an impossible task but you can always pick the ones that have a high potential impact. Most businesses don’t even look at the ‘Low’ category of vulnerabilities. 
  • Security can be confusing. The real meaning is lost in industry jargon. You should choose a scanner with simplified reports that everyone can understand.
  • Free tools are not free. Most web vulnerability scanners offer a free version but they have limited capacity and cannot offer a lot.
  • One-time testing is not enough. If you are doing it just to get a clean-certificate, it will cost dearly when hackers exploit a weakness. Schedule weekly or daily scans with a tool that does not charge you a lot.
  • While WAF is an emerging tech, it still does not solve all of your problems.

What is the best vulnerability scanner?

Vulnerability scanners differ in terms of functionality and offerings. Here is a list of the top options.

1. Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner
2. Qualys Web Application Scanner
3. Tenable Scanning
4. NetSparker Online Vulnerability Scanner
5. Mister Scanner
6. Detectify
7. Probely
8. WhiteHat Security
9. Sucuri
10. UpGuard

Which is the well known tool to scan for vulnerabilities?

Acunetix was the first website vulnerability scanner that came out in the market back in 2005. As a Dynamic Application Security Testing Tool, it identifies and reports common security issues including XSS, SQLI, and CSRF.

What do vulnerability scanners do?

Automated vulnerability scanner find out hidden security flaws thats hackers can use. Powered by AI and vulnerability data from across the world, automated scanners can test hundreds of apps in hours.

How can I check the security of a website?

Website security is paramount to protect your data and business. Mister Scanner allows your to check the site for all kinds of security flaws that hackers can target.

How do you do a vulnerability scan?

You can run a vulnerability scan for free by simply adding the URL, IP, or API in the scanning tool. Most of the security scanners like MisterScanner run a basic test for free.

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