As a new Tenable employee, one of my first opportunities was to sit in on recently updated Nessus training classes taught by Tenable’s Training Lead, Matt Franz. Joining me in putting Matt on the hot seat was Tenable CSO Marcus Ranum. As a consultant, I have been using Nessus for almost ten years to assist in assessing clients’ networks, but had never attended formal training on the software. I sat in on the first day of class to better understand how to leverage Nessus to perform credentialed scans to audit a system against configuration standards such as CIS or PCI. Other students attended to not only learn more about Nessus, but also to learn how Nessus can specifically help assess their organization.
The first day covered a wide variety of activities involving the Nessus including installation, administration, configuration, scanning, policy generation, vulnerability analysis and reporting. Using a hands-on environment, students learned each aspect of the Nessus products by performing tests with a variety of configurations and hypothetical situations. Unlike many classes or training, the material wasn’t rigid in any way. As different ideas and questions came up, students were encouraged to discuss and experiment on the test network. In the first day alone, students chatted about the merit of CVSS scores, the philosophy of what defined a vulnerability and one-off situations on using Nessus across VPNs with SSH port forwarding. One of the nicer surprises to students was learning how to better manipulate scanner output, filter results to better match their needs and export them to a new file. Using this new-found ability, students quickly began discussing how this might better help administrators remediate vulnerabilities by severity, expertise or subnet. At some point, Matt brought in several boxes of pizza and encouraged us to chow down while we continued to learn. We ended up firing off several concurrent scans while watching a traffic monitor to see how much traffic was generated and directly answer students’ questions.
The second day delved into using Nessus for compliance audits, where students continued to learn and enhance their Nessus knowledge and skills as applied to their enterprise environments. With the ability for Nessus to assist in determining a system’s compliance with various federal guidelines, using the compliance plugins available to ProfessionalFeed customers adds additional functionality and value to an organization. This class gave additional instruction to students and demonstrated not only how to use the vulnerability scanner to ensure compliance, but also how to write custom audit profiles specific to their organizations.
Attending the Nessus training class made me realize that while the course material may be static, each class would invariably branch out and learn aspects of the scanner that were more helpful to the students’ own networks. Solid course material, combined with insightful class discussions provided a valuable learning experience.
For more information: http://www.nessus.org/training/