Tenable officially released Nessus 4.2 today. I’ve been using a beta copy for a few weeks now so I thought I’d weigh in with my initial observations.
First, I’m going to recognize a certain bias here. I’ve done thousands of scans over the last couple of years with the Nessus client that, aesthetically and functionally, hasn’t changed much for my day-to-day use. Enter version 4.2 — a major (i.e. complete interface re-design) change and I must confess I’ve had to get used to it. That said, I think the new interface is a big win for Nessus in both the “look and feel” and functionality categories.
The new UI is a Flash-based web app. The big change is that scan reports and policies are now stored on the server instead of the client. This opens up some new opportunity for “disconnected” scans. You can log in and out of the server to monitor progress and scans are not interrupted. For Bandolier users running the client and server on a single machine, this may not be a huge deal since the scans generally run so quickly anyway. For those using more of a distributed architecture (which may make sense more now than ever), this is going to be a nice feature. It will also be great for doing more general vulnerability assessments, especially thanks to another new feature: a progress bar.
Another potential win for Bandolier users: the ability to compare scan reports over time and highlight the differences. Right now for the compliance plugins it seems to only catch the difference in the number of “high” or failed checks rather show you which setting, specifically, has changed. But if you’re doing netstat port scanning along with your Bandolier scan (which is enabled by default), then the compare feature can definitely help you see if any new ports have been opened.
So despite some early on, “who moved my cheese” complaining, the 4.2 upgrade is a good thing and I look forward to using it more. Take a look for yourself in this video from the Tenable YouTube Channel:
I’ll leave you with my tip of the day to get you started: remember that the sections and options are still organized the same way (i.e. you still choose Windows Compliance Checks under Preferences), it’s just laid out differently.