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Detecting Mobile Device Vulnerabilities Using Nessus

The Mobile Device Threat

Without question the security of mobile devices is on the minds of almost every IT department. The average mobile worker carries 3.5 mobile devices at all times, a number that has doubled within the past three years and will likely continue to grow. The problem most organizations face is the workforce uses mobile devices, whether owned by your organization or not, to access company resources. This presents several problems, including not knowing who is using which device, if the devices have the latest software updates, or if device has been tampered with (i.e., jailbroken).

Getting a Handle on Mobile Device Security

Nessus has implemented new features to help users combat mobile threats. Network-based scanning is not the right approach to identify vulnerabilities on mobile devices, due in large part to the fact that most devices are in "sleep" mode and/or using a 3G/4G network. However, MDM (Mobile Device Management) technologies maintain information about the devices, including information about security vulnerabilities.

To learn more about detecting mobile device vulnerabilities with Nessus you can view a video tutorial on our YouTube channel:

The new "Mobile" tab in Nessus allows Nessus ProfessionalFeed customers to enter credentials for either (or both) Apple Profile Manager or Microsoft's ActiveSync. Nessus then uses the credentials to gather information about the type of device, who is using it, and mobile device vulnerabilities.

Mobile Device Audit: A Quick Tutorial

To enable Mobile Device auditing with Nessus, click the "Mobile" tab. The first time you access this menu item you will be prompted to enter the location and credentials of your Apple Profile Manager server and/or your Active Directory Domain Controller:

Mobile Wizard
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The ActiveSync information sent by mobile devices to your Microsoft Exchange server is subsequently stored in Active Directory. Therefore, you must provide Domain Admin-level credentials to allow Nessus to access this information. Once the information is saved, a "scan" will automatically launch. Since we are not scanning the devices, but polling sources of information on them, your results will be displayed rather quickly:

Mobile Vulnerability Results
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If you've configured Apple Profile Manager, you are able to detect if an Apple iOS device has been jailbroken:


Using the ActiveSync connection, you can get a list of devices connecting to your environment, including serial number, firmware version, and the user of the device:

Screen shot 2012 07 17 at 4 47 33 PM

You can also use Nessus report filtering features to show information for a specific type of device, for example the following feature displays information about iPads:

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When faced with a problem such as mobile device security, understanding the scope of the problem is the first step. Nessus now helps you define how many mobile devices are being used to access your information, who is using them, and if they contain vulnerabilities. This information is useful for providing justification to management for process and technology that will remediate the vulnerabilities. Remediation can include filtering technology which prevents certain devices and/or firmware revisions from accessing the network and/or an education program for the users to make them aware of the risk and how to secure their mobile devices.

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