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What Is a Vulnerability Scanner?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Many people use a vulnerability scanner with their computer system, because it is able to identify any potential holes in security without the user having to perform extensive work. This is done by checking coding, ports and many other aspects of the targeted area to reveal any possible problems that hackers can use to their advantage. A vulnerability scanner is used by many legitimate users to find out if there is a possibility of being hacked and what needs to be fixed to avoid it. At the same time, hackers use these scanners to know just where to attack. While vulnerability scanners tend to be used most often with programs, they can check an entire computer, networks and virtual machines.

Hackers have many ways of sneaking into a computer; they can come in through weak coding, an open port or a program with easy user access. To keep the possibility of being hacked to a minimum, a vulnerability scanner is used. The user may specify a target area, so the program scans just one part of the computer, shifting through everything within that area to reveal problems. Some programs can fix minor errors automatically, though most just report the problems.

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The primary users of vulnerability scanner software are legitimate, mostly businesses. Basic users tend to lack the programming knowledge to properly fix problems, and they are rarely hacked, so vulnerability scanners are usually not designed for them, though there are some consumer programs for this purpose. Still, these programs primarily are made more for businesses and large networks, where vulnerability can cause the direct loss of money or the loss of trade secrets, which also can be costly.

While a vulnerability scanner is made for legitimate users who want to ensure their computer or network is safe, hackers also often use this program. By running a vulnerability scan, a hacker can find out exactly what areas of the network are easy to penetrate. This means users should always ensure their computer or network is guarded against attacks.

A vulnerability scanner is most often used on custom programs or web applications and programs that involve many people working simultaneously, because these programs can present a security threat. Vulnerability scanners also are made for whole computers, networks, ports, databases and virtual machines. Some scanners are made to scan many different target areas, while some will just be able to check one aspect of a computer.

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