Open Source Security Products for Identifying Vulnerabilities

Not matter how carefully you create and monitor networks, systems, and applications, the likelihood is that vulnerabilities exist that could potentially be exploited by hackers. Therefore, it is important to identify and address vulnerabilities before they are found by hackers. There are many open source security products for identifying vulnerabilities, and the top solutions are listed below:

Top Open Source Security Products for Identifying Vulnerabilities and Weaknesses


OpenVAS – or Open Vulnerability Assessment System – is one of the most widely used vulnerability scanners. It started life as a fork of the Nessus family of vulnerability scanners (GNessUs) and is the scanner component of the free-to-use Greenbone Vulnerability Manager framework. OpenVAS is continuously updated with the latest known vulnerabilities and can be used to perform a barrage of tests on servers to determine if they have weaknesses that can be exploited using known exploits. The tool performs vulnerability tests on more than 26,000 CVEs and checks for authenticated and unauthenticated vulnerabilities, outdated network services, and poorly configured servers. OpenVAS is one of the best open source security products for identifying vulnerabilities, although there is the potential for false positives.


The Metasploit framework is one of the most comprehensive open source security products. Rapid7, which owns the Metasploit project, rates it as the most impactful penetration testing solution available and allows penetration testers to act like hackers and use their own weapons against them. Metasploit includes a broad collection of penetration testing tools for assessing security. Metasploit will scan, find, test, and exploit vulnerabilities, with the database including a vast number of exploits for vulnerabilities in servers, networks, and web applications. It can be used to determine the most impactful vulnerabilities to allow them to be prioritized, and can fix the leading vulnerabilities and verify patching has been effective. Metasploit now includes more than 2,300 exploits and has over 3,300 modules and payloads. Metasploit is supported by a highly active community of more than 200,000 users and contributors.


Nmap is a free port scanner used by many penetration testers for identifying vulnerabilities in systems and networks, and an excellent open source security product to add to your arsenal. Nmap can be used to scan networks to discover everything connected to the network, and provides in-depth information about exactly what is connected – including the services each host is operating. Nmap cannot be used to exploit vulnerabilities, but it will show you where vulnerabilities exist that could be exploited by hackers so you can plug the gaps. The tool includes TCP/IP fingerprinting, stealth scanning, parallel scanning, decoy scanning, port filtering detection, direct scanning, fragmentation scanning, and flexible target and port specification. Nmap can also monitor host uptime and service uptime, and can be used to map network attacks.


Nikto2 is a web server scanner that has been developed to quickly identify vulnerabilities in web servers. The tool performs scans to look for dangerous files and programs, and checks for outdated versions of servers, more than 270 version-specific server problems, vulnerabilities in installed web servers and software, and server configuration issues that could pose a security risk.


W3AF is a free, Python-based open source vulnerability scanner and web application attack and audit framework that identifies exploitable vulnerabilities. The tool will scan web applications for more than 200 known vulnerabilities – including cross-site scripting, SQL injections, misconfigurations, and other coding errors. The tool has a user-friendly GUI for beginners and is capable of customization by hackers and developers. In addition to automated scanning of web applications, users can craft and send custom HTTP requests and generate requests in an automated manner, and cluster HTTP responses.

Log4JVulnerability Scanners

On December 9, 2021, a remote code execution vulnerability was identified in the Java-based Log4j software library that is used by millions of computers and applications for recording events such as errors and routine system operations. Logging is a fundamental feature of most software, and Log4j has been extensively used to provide that functionality. Estimates suggest there were more than 100 million instances where the vulnerable code had been used. The vulnerability, dubbed Log4Shell and tracked as CVE-2021-44228, has a CVSS severity score of 10/10.

A patch was issued that was incomplete, and several other vulnerabilities have now been identified. The problem for many organizations was not applying the patches but determining if and where Log4j had been used, as Log4j is often bundled with other software. Fortunately, many open source security products can be used to identify vulnerable Log4j versions.