Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability scanners plagued with false positives, but still have value

Automated vulnerability scanners generate large quantities of false positives, resulting in a drain on resources as security engineers chase down bad leads. Nevertheless, the technology has value, as it is more cost-effective than constantly running penetration tests, according to a report in The Register today.

The report covers a session at the Nullcon security conference in Goa, India, where NCC Group security engineer Clint Gibler presented results from a recent test vulnerability scanning technology. In the test, Gibler used a scanner on 100 NCC customers across 10 industry sectors between February 2014 and May 2015. The scanner flagged approximately 900,000 potential vulnerabilities, the vast majority of which were false positives. Industry sectors experienced anywhere from an approximately 50 percent false positive rate to 89 percent in the most extreme cases.

Regardless, Gibler said scanners are still “worth it” for most companies, according to the article—in part because they “bridge the gap between expensive penetration tests.”

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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