Today we are thrilled to announce the release of authenticated web application scanning! This new capability allows our customers to ...
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Announcing Authenticated Scanning: Enhance Your Web Application Security With More In-depth Checks

Olya Osiagina

Today we are thrilled to announce the release of authenticated web application scanning! This new capability allows our customers to expand their use of the Intruder platform to find vulnerabilities which exist behind the login pages of their applications. These scans help to achieve greater coverage and find dangerous flaws which wouldn’t be detected by performing infrastructure checks alone.

With the new release, Intruder aims to deliver a truly comprehensive vulnerability management solution, helping to detect issues not only in the web application layer, but also in the infrastructure on which these web applications are running. This holistic approach makes it much quicker to identify and resolve critical issues, empowering engineering and technical teams to build secure products with ease.

What is authenticated web application scanning and why are we introducing it?

Intruder has always scanned web apps externally from an unauthenticated perspective. It continuously looks for all those security misconfigurations or known vulnerabilities that any opportunistic threat actor could exploit.

While automated attacks targeting your external systems are highly likely to impact you at some point, a more targeted attack that includes the use of credentials cannot be ruled out. If your application allows anyone on the internet to sign up, then you could be exposing your business to malicious characters very easily. What’s more, the functionality available to authenticated users is often more sensitive which means a vulnerability identified in an authenticated part of an application is likely to have a greater impact.

A large percentage of your attack-surface can be hidden behind a login page of your web application

What types of authenticated web application checks does Intruder perform?

Intruder’s dynamic application security testing (DAST) scanner is designed to perform comprehensive reviews across your application, including sections behind your login page in order to identify undocumented vulnerabilities. The scanner is designed to be compatible with a wide range of web application technologies including single-page applications (SPAs) and JavaScript-heavy apps.

The scanning engine will perform numerous web application security checks, going beyond the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities, by covering server misconfigurations and injection vulnerabilities. This provides the assurance you need over vital functionalities such as account profiles and user-generated content.

Intruder prioritises scan results to help you focus on the issues which truly matter

Intruder’s web app scanner includes comprehensive checks which will assist in meeting compliance requirements such as SOC 2, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials, and help you keep abreast of your application’s threat surface.

How Intruder’s web application scanner helps software developers build secure products?

Intruder offers developers an efficient and reliable solution to resolving vulnerabilities before the software is shipped to the public. Using the Intruder API which easily integrates into CI/CD pipelines, engineering teams can catch bugs introduced with new deployments, ensuring that security keeps pace with software development.

In addition to web app checks, Intruder performs reviews across your publicly and privately accessible servers, cloud systems, and endpoint devices

By having a complete overview of application vulnerabilities in a single platform, developers can quickly see what matters the most and, as a result, significantly reduce the likelihood of sensitive data being compromised by threat actors.

Our new authenticated web app scanner encompasses the main benefits that our customers love: ease of use; developer integrations; false positive reduction; straightforward remediation advice; and more. Explore Intruder’s web application features in more detail by visiting our web application scanner page.

How does the licensing work?

Intruder’s authenticated web application scanning comes as an add-on feature to our main scanning service and is available across all existing plans.

This means, that in addition to our Infrastructure Licenses, it is now possible to purchase a separate Authentication License which includes the ability to add authentications to a host.

Get started today

The new authenticated web application scanner is already available for you to try and we’re grateful for feedback to help us improve our product.

Sign up to try Intruder for free for 14 days today and experience the new authenticated web application scanner first hand.

Want to learn more?

Great, get in touch to schedule a demo or send us a message in the chat window, we’d be happy to help.

Release Date
Level of Ideal
Before CVE details are published
Limited public information is available about the vulnerability.

Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers, threat actors have to actively research type of vulnerability, location in vulnerable software and build an associated exploit.

Tenable release checks for 47.43% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 32.96%.
Day of CVE publish
Vulnerability information is publicly accessible.

Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers and threat actors now have access to some of the information they were previously having to hunt themselves, speeding up potential exploit creation.

Tenable release checks for 17.12% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 17.69%.
First week since CVE publish
Vulnerability information has been publicly available for up to 1 week.

The likelihood that exploitation in the wild is going to be happening is steadily increasing.

Tenable release checks for 10.9% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 20.69%.
Between 1 week and 1 month since CVE publish
Vulnerability information has been publicly available for up to 1 month, and some very clever people have had time to craft an exploit.

We’re starting to lose some of the benefit of rapid, automated vulnerability detection.

Tenable release checks for 9.58% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 12.43%.
After 1 month since CVE publish
Information has been publicly available for more than 31 days.

Any detection released a month after the details are publicly available is decreasing in value for me.

Tenable release checks for 14.97% of the CVEs they cover over a month after the CVE details have been published, and Greenbone release 16.23%.

With this information in mind, I wanted to check what is the delay for both Tenable and Greenbone to release a detection for their scanners. The following section will focus on vulnerabilities which:

These are the ones where an attacker can point their exploit code at your vulnerable system and gain unauthorised access.

We’ve seen previously that Tenable have remote checks for 643 critical vulnerabilities, and OpenVAS have remote checks for 450 critical vulnerabilities. Tenable release remote checks for critical vulnerabilities within 1 month of the details being made public 58.4% of the time, but Greenbone release their checks within 1 month 76.8% of the time. So, even though OpenVAS has fewer checks for those critical vulnerabilities, you are more likely to get them within 1 month of the details being made public. Let’s break that down further.

In Figure 10 we can see the absolute number of remote checks released on a given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability has been published. What you can immediately see is that both Tenable and OpenVAS release the majority of their checks on or before the CVE details are made public; Tenable have released checks for 247 CVEs, and OpenVAS have released checks for 144 CVEs. Then since 2010 Tenable have remote released checks for 147 critical CVEs and OpenVAS 79 critical CVEs on the same day as the vulnerability details were published. The number of vulnerabilities then drops off across the first week and drops further after 1 week, as we would hope for in an efficient time-to-release scenario.

Figure 10: Absolute numbers of critical CVEs with a remote check release date from the date a CVE is published

While raw numbers are good, Tenable have a larger number of checks available so it could be unfair to go on raw numbers alone. It’s potentially more important to understand the likelihood that OpenVAS or Tenable will release a check of a vulnerability on any given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability is released. In Figure 11 we can see that Tenable release 61% their checks on or before the date that a CVE is published, and OpenVAS release a shade under 50% of their checks on or before the day that a CVE is published.

Figure 11: Percentage chance of delay for critical vulnerabilities

So, since 2010 Tenable has more frequently released their checks before or on the same day as the CVE details have been published for critical vulnerabilities. While Tenable is leading at this point, Greenbone’s community feed still gets a considerable percentage of their checks out on or before day 0.

I thought I’d go another step further and try and see if I could identify any trend in each organisations release delay, are they getting better year-on-year or are their releases getting later? In Figure 12 I’ve taken the mean delay for critical vulnerabilities per year and plotted them. The mean as a metric is particularly influenced by outliers in a data set, so I expected some wackiness and limited the mean to only checks released 180 days prior to a CVE being published and 31 days after a CVE being published. These seem to me like reasonable limits, as anything greater than 6 months prior to CVE details being released is potentially a quirk of the check details and anything after a 1-month delay is less important for us.

What can we take away from Figure 12?

Figure 12: Release delay year-on-year (lower is better)

With the larger number of checks, and still being able to release a greater percentage of their remote checks for critical vulnerabilities Tenable could win this category. However, the delay time from 2019 and 2020 going to OpenVAS, and the trend lines being so close, I am going to declare this one a tie. It’s a tie.

The takeaway from this is that both vendors are getting their checks out the majority of the time either before the CVE details are published or on the day the details are published. This is overwhelmingly positive for both scanning solutions. Over time both also appear to be releasing remote checks for critical vulnerabilities more quickly.

Written by

Olya Osiagina

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