Nessus 4.4.0 Released!

by Paul Asadoorian
November 11, 2010

Tenable is excited to announce a new release of the Nessus vulnerability scanner! This is a major release (moving from 4.2.2 to 4.4.0) and includes several new features and enhancements, including the addition of scan scheduling and enhanced reporting. The GUI and web server have both been updated and will be released through the plugin feed. The enhancements included in the plugin feed will be backward compatible with Nessus 4.2, and some of the new features will be available in Nessus 4.2 via the plugin feed update. However all users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to the latest version to take advantage of all the new features.

The list below outlines the changes included in the 4.4.0 release, including sample reports, scheduling examples and more:

User interface

  • A brand new reporting engine produces improved reports. Two new HTML reports have been added: a detailed plugin report (results displayed by plugin / vulnerability) and an "Executive Summary" report that summarizes the top 10 most vulnerable hosts on the network.
Executive summary report
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An example of the "Executive Summary" report


Detailed HTML export

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An example of the “Detailed HTML export (by plugins)” report
  • Scan scheduling has been added for Nessus ProfessionalFeed users. It is now possible to schedule Nessus scans on a one-time, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
  • NessusSched1.png
    When creating a new scan, you can choose a type of "Scheduled", and then click "edit" to set the scanning frequency.

    NessusShed2.png
    A sample weekly scan schedule.

  • The XSLT transformations now take place on the server, instead of the user's web browser, for a unified and smoother user-experience.

  • The user interface now allows you to select multiple scans, policies or reports and delete them in bulk.

  • The web server is running and listening as soon as the "nessusd" process starts and no longer waits until it has finished processing the plugins.

  • When a scanner is managed by SecurityCenter, the web interface is now enabled and updated automatically.


  • NessusAbout.png
    The new "About Nessus" page, including the Feed type and expiration timer.

  • By clicking on "About" in the Flash interface, it's now possible to see how many days remain on your ProfessionalFeed subscription (for online updates).

Nessus Scanning Server Enhancements

  • Nessus can now reload its configuration file, plugins and web server while scans are in progress.
  • Per-scan memory requirements have been reduced by more than 50%. The average amount of memory needed per host is now approximately 1.3 MB (versus approximately 2.8 MB previously). This means that given the same amount of memory (and bandwidth permitting), you can double the "max_hosts" setting in your scan policy.
  • It is now possible to tune Nessus to use less memory when idle (at the price of a moderate performance impact).
  • It is possible to safely cipher all the policies (and the credentials they contain) by using the command "nessusd -K" to set a master key. Once a key is set, the server will prompt the user (via the web interface) at startup for the password.
  • NessusLocked.png
    A Nessus installation that has been locked using the new "nessusd -K" feature.

  • The web server uses gzip on its XMLRPC answers if the web client supports it.

  • The web server can make use of a SSL certificate chain.

  • Improved performance on Windows.

New (Often Requested) Platforms

  • Fedora 14 build
  • Ubuntu 10.10 build
  • FreeBSD 8 build
  • Oracle Linux is officially supported (via the RHEL ES5 packages)

Others

  • "nasl -M" now runs the scripts and their dependencies in command-line mode
  • "nessuscmd --fast" speeds up network discovery.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a few bugs when using the command "nessus -qSP".
  • Compliance results are now always listed in the order that the checks ran.
  • Packet forgery would not always work or use the correct route on Windows systems.
  • Plugin details did not change when selecting an open port.
  • When the client reloads the list of scans, it does not scroll the scan, policy or results window back to the top.

New customers can download and evaluate Nessus for free by visiting the Nessus homepage. Current customers can download the new version from the Tenable Support Portal. Detailed instructions and notes on upgrading are located in the Nessus 4.4 Installation Guide. Please contact Tenable Support (support -at- tenable.com) with any questions regarding the upgrade to Nessus 4.4.0. You can also visit the Nessus Discussion portal for more information.