Greenbone, a world leader in open source vulnerability management software, has released its latest scanner, Notus.

“With Notus, a milestone for the performance of extensive comparisons of software versions has been created in recent years,” explains CIO Elmar Geese.

With Notus, Greenbone is also responding to customer requests for better performance in version checks. Whether a security vulnerability is dangerous for a company depends mainly on the installed software versions and their patch level. In very many cases, a vulnerability scanner must therefore match a large number of software versions and detect combinations of these. As the complexity of the setups increases, this test becomes more and more extensive. However, because the overall result of the scan also depends heavily on this data collection, Notus will enable such scans much faster than any of its predecessors.

Faster thanks to JSON

“The scanner rattles off the relevant servers and captures software running there. For the actual scan, it essentially only gets the info about affected and fixed packages,” explains Björn Ricks, Senior Software Developer at Greenbone. “With the previously used scanner and its predecessors, we usually had to start a separate process per version check, meaning a separate manually created script. Generating these scripts automatically is time-consuming.” Notus, on the other hand, only loads the data it needs from JSON files. Ricks sums it up, “Notus is significantly more efficient, requires fewer processes, less overhead, less memory, …”

CIO Geese then also declares the Notus scanner to be a “milestone for our users, it improves the performance significantly. Our well-known high detection quality as well as performance, central goals of our product strategy, will be optimally supported by the new scanner.”

Notus, Greenbone and OpenVAS

The Notus project consists of two parts: a Notus generator, which creates the JSON files containing information about vulnerable RPM/Debian packages, and the Notus scanner, which loads these JSON files and interprets the information from them.

OpenVAS, the Open Vulnerability Assessment System, was created in 2005, when the development team of the Nessus vulnerability scanner decided to stop working under open source licenses and move to a proprietary business model.

Since 2008, Greenbone has been providing professional vulnerability scanning support. For this purpose, Greenbone took over the further development of OpenVAS, added several software components and thus transformed OpenVAS into a comprehensive vulnerability management solution that still carries the values of free software. The first appliances came onto the market in spring 2010.