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Re: Question on root credentials for scanning
From: Todd Haverkos <infosec () haverkos com>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2011 12:43:15 -0500

Shobana Narayanaswamy <snaraya () opnet com> writes:


I am a newbie to security and scanning. Here is my question:

Do you generally need root credentials in order for the scan to
produce detailed results? When I run a scan without root credentials,
it comes up very little info. However, when I supply
root credentials, I get several useful reports. It appears that the
scanner detects the OS version and other s/w component versions only
if it is provided root access.

What's best  depends on your goals, but generally, yes, credentialed
gives you a far far more actionable report.  But if you're doing a
test for a client who wants to know what they look like to an attacker
without credentials, obviously black box and uncredentialed is the
right call. 

If you are scanning your own assets on the internal network to harden
them and determine what machines have software that's not getting
patched, then absolutely--credentialed scanning is the way to go.

Since you mention root, the assumption is that you're scanning *nix
boxes.  A low privileged account can get you most of where you need to
go for most patch checks, but a root level account is needed to run
some checks on certain configuration dependendent vulnerabilities, so
if you have one avaialble to you, root would be the better way to go.
I have a vague recollection that Solaris cared about this more than
Linux did, but I can't recall.

However, it's not a great idea to allow direct root logins via ssh or
allowing password auth, so picking a scanner that knows what it's
doing with su and sudo and supports public key ssh auth well would be
something you should strongly consider.  Nessus and Tenable Security
Center, by the way, really outshine the competition on this point if
this is a priority to you.

Best Regards, 
Todd Haverkos, LPT MsCompE

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