New Nessus Targeted Email Notifications and Monitoring

by Paul Asadoorian
May 28, 2013

Actionable Results in Your Inbox

Nessus provides comprehensive vulnerability discovery using credentials, patch auditing, compliance auditing, and so much more. However, discovering vulnerabilities is only part of the process. To improve the security of your network, the vulnerabilities must be remediated. Nessus now puts actionable results in the hands of those who can fix the problems.

With a recent upgrade to Nessus 5.2, users on the HTML5 interface can now receive targeted email notifications. When scans are complete, Nessus can send an email with scan results and remediation recommendations to the recipients of your choice. This can be done for individual scans or set up in conjunction with scan scheduling to monitor the discovery of critical vulnerabilities or other conditions and automatically deliver the findings to the appropriate people.

New Nessus “Scan Summary Email”

The report sent via email is a brand-new format dubbed the “Scan Summary Email.” It provides recipients with a link to view the scan results if they choose to dig into the details. The report then displays an overview of the findings, including the top five hosts and plugins (ranked in order of most-frequently occurring). If the scan results contained suggestions, either to report errors or to improve scanning configurations, then those will appear in the report as well.

Scan Summary Email

The first section of the Scan Summary Email provides a nice synopsis for the user. It indicates the vulnerabilities encountered most frequently, lists which hosts contain the most vulnerabilities, and provides the ability to drill down into the details.

The final section of the email is the heart and soul of the report, listing the actions to take to support remediation. The first sentence provides a remediation impact summary. In the following example, Nessus advises that taking the listed actions across 5 hosts would resolve 31% of the vulnerabilities on the network. The list of actions is based on the patch consolidation report, and lists which patches to apply to remediate the discovered vulnerabilities and the quantity of hosts that will be affected.

Suggested Remediations

The above report provides a concise list of actions that will remediate the largest quantity of vulnerabilities. It provides you with the list of patches that will give you the most “bang for your buck” (e.g., Applying the Oracle Database April 2013 update remediates 235 vulnerabilities!).

Configuring an Email Server in Nessus

With just a few simple steps, you can begin receiving the above reports via email. First, in the "Configuration" tab, there’s a new section for users to add an SMTP server that will be used to send emails.

Nessus system configurations

Users must complete the Host and Port fields. You can configure the Reply-To email and set a username and password if your SMTP server requires authentication. Several different types of authentication are supported, including "PLAIN, NTLM, LOGIN, and CRAM-MD5."

Enabling Email Notifications

When you create a new scan, either as a template or as a scheduled scan, Nessus will provide you with a screen to enter the recipients and the option to set a results filter.

Scan Summary Email

For each new scan template, users can now enter an email address (or a list of email addresses) that will receive a Scan Summary Email.

Email addresses can be separated by a comma, and result filtering is configured the same as when you’re viewing the scan results. If none of your results match the filter once the scan completes, the user will receive a notification stating this condition.

More Information

Nessus ProfessionalFeed, Perimeter Service, and HomeFeed users can take advantage of the new notification email feature. If you have any questions, please visit the Tenable Support Portal or pose a question on the Tenable Discussions Forum.