Vulnerability management is a critical aspect of vendor risk management (VRM). Organizations prioritizing third-party vulnerability management can mitigate third-party risk, ensure regulatory compliance, protect sensitive data, and maintain business continuity.

A robust vulnerability management program is essential for organizations with extensive third-party supply chains. One of the best ways an organization can improve its vulnerability assessment process is by utilizing a vulnerability management tool with built-in vulnerability detection. However, not all vulnerability management tools were created equally, so organizations must take the time to compare and contrast the features of different vulnerability management solutions to see how each stacks up against the competition.

This guide will provide an overview and comparison of the market's most popular vulnerability management and detection tools. Vulnerability management solutions in this guide are compared based on their scanning capabilities, user interface, learning curve, customer support, and ability to help organizations mitigate and remediate known third-party security vulnerabilities.

Discover how UpGuard helps organizations with vulnerability management >

Common Types of Vulnerabilities

In cybersecurity, a vulnerability is any weakness or flaw in an organization’s information technology system that cybercriminals can exploit to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or networks.

Network security personnel typically organize vulnerabilities into one of six categories:

  • Network Vulnerabilities: Unprotected communications, man-in-the-middle attacks, poor authentication, insecure cloud infrastructure, outdated web servers, insecure endpoint devices, and other elements of insecure IT infrastructure
  • Hardware Vulnerabilities: Compatibility issues, elemental damage (dust, humidity, moisture), unpatched firmware vulnerabilities, etc.
  • Software Vulnerabilities: Input validation errors (HTTP response splitting, SQL injections), privilege confusion bugs, side-channel attacks, etc.
  • Personnel Vulnerabilities: Outdated passwords, poor cyber hygiene, lack of security awareness, lack of cyber threat training, etc.
  • Organizational Vulnerabilities: Faulty incident response plans, poor business continuity planning, outdated disaster recovery plans, etc.
  • Physical Site Vulnerabilities: On-premises sites prone to natural disasters, unreliable power sources, unreliable keycard access, etc.

Recommended Reading: What is a Vulnerability? Definition + Examples

What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?

A zero-day vulnerability is a security vulnerability the original developer is unaware of. Zero-day vulnerabilities arise across hardware, software, and firmware, and when exploited by cybercriminals, they cause devastating consequences.

When cybercriminals exploit a zero-day vulnerability, that day is known as a zero-day. This term refers to the number of days since the developer installed a patch or eliminated the vulnerability: zero.

Throughout the past few years, cybercriminals have deployed several major zero-day attacks. Here are a few notable ones:

  • MOVEit: Ransomware groups exploited a flaw in MOVEit’s transfer software and compromised the sensitive information of more than 65 million customers
  • EternalBlue: Hackers used an outdated server message block (SMB) protocol in legacy Microsoft Windows computers to spread the WannaCry network worm
  • Facebook: Flaws in Salesforce’s email services led to an extensive phishing campaign that utilized Facebook’s domain and infrastructure

Recommended Reading: What is a Zero-Day (0-Day)? and The MOVEit Zero-Day Vulnerability: How to Respond

7 Best Vulnerability Scanners

The nucleus of a typical vulnerability management tool is a vulnerability scanner, a software application that assesses computers, networks, and applications for known vulnerabilities. Most vulnerability scanners detect new vulnerabilities based on misconfiguration, flawed programming, and public vulnerability databases like the CVE (Common Vulnerabilities & Exposures).

Vulnerability scanners complete two types of vulnerability testing scans:

  • Authenticated scans: Allows vulnerability scanners to access network resources by using remote protocols and provided system credentials. Authenticated scans also provide access to low-level data such as specific services, operating system information, installed software, configuration issues, security controls, and patch management.
  • Unauthenticated scans: Do not allow access to network resources, which can result in false positives and unreliable testing. Cybercriminals, security teams, and network security personnel typically utilize this scan type to determine the security posture of externally facing assets, including third-party vendors and suppliers.

Top Vulnerability Scanning Tools

There are various vendor vulnerability management tools on the market, but which is suitable for your business and its third-party ecosystem? In addition to running vulnerability scans, some solutions provide advanced vulnerability mitigation and remediation workflows, vendor reports, and other cybersecurity tools risk personnel can utilize to improve their VRM program holistically.

This blog will evaluate the vulnerability management solutions included based on public user reviews and the following criteria:

  • Scanning Features
  • Integrations
  • Customer Support
  • User Interface & Learning Curve
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support

1. UpGuard Vendor Risk

screenshot of one vendor vulnerability management solution: UpGuard Vendor Risk
Vendor Summary on UpGuard Vendor Risk

UpGuard Vendor Risk is a complete VRM solution that offers organizations vulnerability management, customizable workflows, vendor risk scores, and other comprehensive security solutions to secure their third-party attack surface. UpGuard’s vulnerability detection feature scans for verified and unverified vulnerabilities. All verified vulnerabilities are scrutinized against the CVE database to eliminate false positives.

  • Scanning Features: Completes third-party vulnerability scans daily, scrutinizes HTTP headers, website content, open ports, network devices, and cloud environments, continuously monitors vendor security posture and compliance status 24/7, provides real-time updates and notifications, and uses a proprietary rating algorithm to provide comprehensive vendor security ratings
  • Integrations: UpGuard Vendor Risk integrates with over 4000 applications using Zapier and an easy-to-use API
  • Customer Support: UpGuard’s world-class global customer support team is flexible towards requests, available 24/7, and enables same-day resolutions
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: UpGuard’s user interface is highly intuitive and well-organized and offers a shallow learning curve
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: UpGuard Vendor Risk’s automated and instant workflows allow organizations to mitigate third-party vulnerabilities and remediate third-party risks efficiently. Mitigation and remediation efforts are instantly prioritized by risk severity, saving organizations valuable time. Organizations can also access security questionnaires, vendor risk assessments, and an actionable reports library to strengthen additional processes in their VRM programs, such as vendor due diligence, onboarding, board communication, and more
an additional screenshot of the UpGuard vendor vulnerability management solution
Vendor Tiers in UpGuard Vendor Risk

2. Tenable

Tenable provides vulnerability assessments using Nessus technology. The web application provides organizations with a risk-based view of their attack surface.

  • Scanning Features: The Nessus scanner looks for known and unknown assets using CVE and application security testing. User reviews suggest high detection rates and responsive automated scans
  • Integrations: Supports several pre-built integrations and a documented API
  • Customer Support: 24/7 availability; resolutions can be slow 
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: A moderate learning curve can challenge first-time users, but the user interface is organized
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Prioritizes vulnerabilities using predictive technology and offers some mitigation and remediation support

3. OpenVAS

OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanner offered and managed by Greenbone Networks. The security tool includes access to an extensive community feed displaying several vulnerability tests.

  • Scanning Features: OpenVAS runs unauthenticated and authenticated scans, distributes industrial protocols, and contains a unique internal programming language
  • Integrations: The application only understands one type of program language (OPSD), which can make third-party integration challenging
  • Customer Support: Offers enterprise-level customer support package at a cost
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: A moderate learning curve can challenge first-time users, and the user interface can be challenging to navigate
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Mitigation and remediation support is lacking compared to other vulnerability management solutions

4. Qualys

Qualys offers several cloud-based applications to manage IT security and vendor compliance risks. Customers across sectors and within organizations of various sizes, including small businesses and mid-market enterprises, utilize Qualys' compliance tools.

  • Scanning Features: The Qualys vulnerability scanner monitors internet-facing servers, cloud-based applications, and other elements of a customer’s IT ecosystem
  • Integrations: Qualys partners with several companies that offer web application firewalls and pen tests (penetration testing) for several cloud-based integrations (AWS)
  • Customer Support: The Qualys support team is available and responsive
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: The Qualys web portal is less defined and organized than others, presents a moderate learning curve, and can be troublesome for first-time users
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Remediation is partially prioritized, but workflows lack the automated ease and visibility offered by some other solutions

5. Tripwire IP360

Tripwire IP360 is a web application vulnerability scanner within Forta’s cybersecurity portfolio.

  • Scanning Features: Tripwire IP360 completes on-premise, cloud-based, and web application scans. The product is scalable to suit the needs of small businesses and large operations
  • Integrations: Built on “open standards” that enable integrations with some third-party applications and plug-ins
  • Customer Support: Past customer reviews reveal customer support is readily available but occasionally slow to troubleshoot solutions
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: Intuitive interface and moderate learning curve
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Most remediation and mitigation efforts are only possible through integrations with other existing tools

6. Nexpose

Nexpose is a vulnerability scanner managed by Boston-based cybersecurity company Rapid7. The scanner specializes in on-premise scans.

  • Scanning Features: Nexpose exclusively offers on-premise scans. The platform can be paired with other Rapid7 products, like InsightVM, to provide comprehensive vulnerability detection
  • Integrations: Nexpose integrates with 40+ technologies that include firewalls, SIEMs, and ticketing systems
  • Customer Support: Rapid7’s customer support is responsive and available
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: The learning curve can be steep since the user interface is less intuitive than other vulnerability detection solutions
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Nexpose offers little in terms of remediation and mitigation support, but Rapid7’s InsightVM does offer some support

7. Burp Suite Scanner

The Burp Scanner is hosted by Port Swigger, and industry professionals recognized it for its efficiency and dynamic scanning performance.

  • Scanning Features: The Burp Scanner navigates network obstacles automatically and uncovers vulnerabilities across a wide array of modern web applications without extensive false positives
  • Integrations: Customers can integrate enterprise versions of the Burp Suite with other tools using REST API
  • Customer Support: Support is available around the clock and is needed to help troubleshoot onboarding and training questions
  • User Interface & Learning Curve: Burp presents an intimidating learning curve, and the user interface can be challenging to navigate
  • Mitigation & Remediation Support: Port Swigger offers some support, but workflows don’t meet the needs of all users or offer comprehensive solutions when compared to specific vulnerability solutions, like UpGuard

UpGuard: Cybersecurity Solutions & Threat Intelligence

UpGuard offers organizations comprehensive threat intelligence and cybersecurity solutions, including attack surface management and vulnerability detection tools. Gartner and G2 recognize UpGuard Vendor Risk as a leader in vendor risk management and UpGuard BreachSight as a leader in external attack surface management.

Organizations rely on UpGuard Vendor Risk and BreachSight for the following features:

  • Vendor Risk Assessments: Fast, accurate, and provide a comprehensive view of your vendors’ security posture 
  • Third-Party Security Ratings: An objective, data-driven, and dynamic measurement of an organization’s cyber hygiene
  • Vendor Security Questionnaires: Flexible questionnaires that accelerate the assessment process and provide deep insights into a vendor’s security
  • Stakeholder Reports Library: Tailor-made templates allow personnel to communicate security performance to executive-level stakeholders easily  
  • Remediation and Mitigation Workflows: Comprehensive workflows to streamline risk management processes and improve security posture
  • Integrations: Easily integrate UpGuard with over 4,000 apps using Zapier
  • 24/7 Continuous Monitoring: Real-time notifications and around-the-clock updates using accurate supplier data
  • Intuitive Design: Easy-to-use vendor portals and first-party dashboards
  • World-Class Customer Service: Professional cybersecurity personnel are standing by to help you get the most out of UpGuard and improve your security posture

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