Vendors sharpen vulnerability-assessment tools

A pair of vulnerability-assessment and remediation tool vendors are separately upgrading their products so that customers more easily can prioritize which networked systems need to be fixed.

Citadel Security Software says Version 3.5 of its Hercules desktop and server software includes new technology called AssetGuard that helps companies determine what needs fixing by examining vulnerability-assessment data collected from assorted scanners against an inventory of applications running on the network. Based on written policies, fixes can be prioritized.

Hercules 3.5 aggregates data from scanners such as those from eEye Digital Security, Foundstone and Internet Security Systems.

Other enhancements include the ability to query Hercules' management console for information about what types of computers with specific vulnerabilities are running on a sub-net and then scheduling remediation efforts.

Meanwhile, competitor Preventsys has upgraded its Linux-based Enterprise Security Management appliance, which also gathers vulnerability-assessment data from scanners.

New technology called Preemptive Threat Defense takes what's known about the organization's computer assets and risks and compares that against ongoing attack information from intrusion-detection systems.

"It can now look at the real-time flow of threat data, and then dispatch tickets out of a workflow system based on rules, explaining why it should be changed," says Preventsys CEO Tom Rowley.

Mark Byford, manager of technical information systems at St. John Health System, says he primarily uses Preventsys gear to automate the consolidation of information from scanners, including the open-source Nessus system. The data is used to determine the most critical vulnerabilities on the Tulsa, Okla., company's network of 130 servers and 3,000 desktops.

"Before, our reporting was manual," Byford says. "But we need to have reports we can show," especially because the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act now has established requirements for protecting patient records and for the security and auditing of systems.

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