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Understanding Tenable Plugins

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A re you pluggin’ along looking for vulnerabilities? The heart of Tenable vulnerability detection comes from the individual tests called plugins simple programs that check for specific flaws. Each plugin contains a vulnerability description, fix recommendations, and algorithms for detection. Tenable products receive new plugins nightly, which keep the tests current and relevant.

Finding plugin information

SecurityCenterhas at least four places to research plugins:

1. Click on your userid (top right) to find the Plugins . This is the quickest source while working on SecurityCenter. You can also use a URL such as: https://<SecurityCenterhostname>/#plugins


Understanding Tenable Plugins

2. On the analysis screens and plugin screens, click the i icon next to the Plugin ID This is the most informative source.


Understanding Tenable Plugins

3. Click on Analysis / Vulnerabilities and choose the Vulnerability Detail List (VDL) tool to find many explanations related to individual plugins.


Understanding Tenable Plugins

4. Log in as administrator. The initial Overview dashboard (bottom right) lists the plugins currently loaded in SecurityCenter.


Understanding Tenable Plugins

You can also find plugins in other Tenable products.

Nessustakes a few clicks to drill down to plugins. Go to Policies / New Policy / Advanced Scan / Plugins . Then select a family on the left and a plugin on the right:


Understanding Tenable Plugins

You can also see Nessus plugin information in scan results and by drilling down on individual plugin results. This provides similar information as VDL in SecurityCenter.

Tenable.ioprovides very similar information as Nessus, both in content and location (see Tenable.io Vulnerability Management for information about this new application).

You can use three places on the Internet to research plugins:

Plugins : This site is very useful. The Tenable Support Portal also links to the Plugins . Tenable Community : provides technical discussions on individual plugins. Use this site to see how a plugin is used by others. Google : Of course, an organic search for a Nessus Plugin Name or ID is often the easiest to remember. Explanation of plugin sources

Each plugin source has its advantages and peculiarities. They vary in the information provided. Here are the nine sources, comparing their advantages and unique details.

Plugin

This source provides many fields to search on. I use Plugin Name or Plugin ID most often.

This view has several unique characteristics. First, it shows the plugins currently in SecurityCenter:


Understanding Tenable Plugins

Second, this source enables you to search against the audit files that have been activated in your SecurityCenter installation. For example, you can see the compliance password tests:


Understanding Tenable Plugins
i icon

Clicking the small i icon results in voluminous information. If you carefully search through the Details tab’s Solution section, you can find the plugin’s source filename:


Understanding Tenable Plugins

A second Source tab (top right) displays the plugin’s actual scripting in Tenable’s proprietary Nessus Attack Script Language (NASL):


Understanding Tenable Plugins

Not all plugins are provided in NASL. Others plugins are compiled to protect confidential techniques.

VDL

You can find a gold mine of information in the VDL analysis tool. This is usually the best resource for researching plugin results.

The Plugin output field is one of the most valuable fields, because you can see the actual response from the target during testing. It stands out with green-on-black coloring:
Understanding Tenable Plugins
The VDL output is the best for assessing risk and how the CVSS score was tallied. It includes the vector, the version, and more. If a publicly-known exploit is available, the VDL will provide details. In this example, the specific Metasploit module is specified:
Understanding Tenable Plugins
VDL includes ties to many industry vulnerability sources like BID, IAVM, CVE, and CERT announcements:
Understanding Tenable Plugins
VDL also references frameworks like 800-53, CSF, PCI, ISO 27000, Critical Security Controls (formerly SANS top 20) and several others. Tenable provides audit files, which in the individual stanzas correlate the framework modules by tags in the Reference field. The tags enable framework dashboards, reports, and Assurance Report Cards to automatically populate with appropriate scan results related to the framework. A listing of related audit files can be found by posting a specific question on theTenable Community. The Host field includes items such as the date that the vulnerability was first seen. It also gathers asset identity details like DNS, NetBIOS, and MAC address. Admin overview dashboard

After logging in as admin, I like to sort by modified date to see when plugins arrived. The date for the newest plugin downloads should be less than 24 hours (except for an offline SecurityCenter). I also like to see what issues the recent plugins address.

Nessus

Finding plugin information takes several steps. Nessus also provides many fields about a plugin.


Understanding Tenable Plugins

To identify risk severity, Nessus shows both CVSS versions two and three in the detailed view.

Tenable.io

Similar to Nessus.

www.tenable.com/plugins/

This has been my favorite interface to work with for quick lookups. It also lists plugins by families. ThePlugins portal includes several pages:

Helpful screens on newest plugins and options on obtaining an activation code for plugin updates. View all plugins provides the latest count of plugins at the top. The page is organized by research plugin families. Search : I often start my research here. I usually search by Plugin Name and Plugin ID. Example:A customer asked if Tenable had any tests for nginx. I typed in nginx, searched with Plugin Name, and was surpris

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