Free hacker scan for universities, nonprofits

Acunetix is providing free to unis its Web Vulnerability Scanner

Web application security vendor Acunetix Wednesday announced it would make available for free a Web site security scan and reporting service to universities and nonprofit organizations.

The vendor's offer follows a flurry of data leaks at universities. Most recently, a database breach at the University of California, Los Angeles, put some 800,000 personal records at risk. The service at this stage, however, only applies to US universities.

Acunetix says institutions of higher learning and nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive at no charge the vendor's Web SiteAudit services, which would be performed by an Acunetix security expert using its Web Vulnerability Scanner product.

Acunetix says that because many universities are decentralized, it is more difficult for IT and security staff to maintain tight security measures that could stave off hackers. Because hackers work stealthily, it's not always immediately obvious that information security has been breached, the vendor says.

"Hackers will not leave a trail. Your data will still remain there, but a copy of it resides in its entirety elsewhere, either for immediate sale or for later use," says K.J. Vella, vice president of sales and operations at Acunetix. "Organizations are duty-bound to protect the data entrusted them."

The Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner product is normally priced at about US$400.

Acunetix says the SiteAudit service ensures a Web site is secure against attack by checking for SQL injection, cross-site scripting and other vulnerabilities. The service also audits shopping carts, forms and dynamic content, while scanning the entire Web site and all Web applications (including JavaScript and AJAX applications) for security vulnerabilities. The vendor then provides a report on the scan to the Web site owner.

Universities and nonprofit organizations can apply for a free site audit here or by sending an e-mail to with general contact details and a Web site URL.

Acunetix also offers a free security scan to Web site visitors here.

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