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Recently I've been diving into some advanced and targeted analysis features. Today I'd like to keep things simple while still addressing a significant use case - Vulnerability Regression. Often times the immediate response to high visibility vulnerabilities does not involve setting up future monitoring, leaving the door open for the same vulnerabilities to show back up time and again.


The Immediate Response - AKA Fire Drill

Sooner or later, for better or worse, everyone hits a fire drill.  You probably know the situation - late nights, high pressure, and a lot of leadership visibility.  It's a find-fix scramble under a microscope, and it's no fun.  Some slightly dated examples (more on that later) include: Shellshock, Heartbleed, and, for those of you with air-gapped networks, BadUSB.


My question is - what happens when the smoke clears?  Everyone takes a deep breath, some pats on the back, a cold beverage or two, maybe even a day off to recuperate before post-mortem reporting begins.  Unfortunately, when the immediate response ends is often when the real visibility gap begins.


The Regression

Over time these vulnerabilities have a way of reappearing.  Maybe an old system gets booted up when it was supposed to be deprecated, or maybe a new system gets rolled out with some old software installed on it.  One way or another, older, high-visibility vulnerabilities can come creeping back into the network.  I picked these examples intentionally, because I still see them in the field after all this time;  I even see them even in environments where a fire drill was run and considered a complete success.


Regression Monitoring

Without ongoing monitoring for regressions, any immediate response action is inherently a point-in-time fix and not a systematic remediation or root-cause resolution.  The idea of regression testing has been around for quite some time in the development world, and I think there's a huge value to applying that same concept in the security world.  Here's a quick example of how to set up a basic Heartbleed regression check in Nexpose:


Create a Dynamic Asset Group (you'll notice a trend - I use DAGs a lot, they are pretty neat):




Set up a filter for "Heartbleed" based on Vulnerability Title:





Click 'Search' and then 'Create Asset Group' as per usual.  If you create a Dynamic Asset Group the group membership will automatically be updated each time you run a new scan.


Conclusion - More Success!

There you have it - a simple, easy way to set up regression monitoring for high visibility vulnerabilities.  Go on and set up a few of these - you might just be surprised what you find!


For those of you who want something a bit broader than single vulnerability searching, check out my piece on the usage and value of Vulnerability Categories.


Update Tuesday, June 2016

Posted by anowak Employee Jun 14, 2016

June continues an on-going trend with Microsoft’s products where the majority of bulletins (7) address remote code execution (RCE) with elevation of privilege as a close second (6); the three address information disclosure (2) and denial of service. All critical bulletins are remote code execution vulnerabilities affecting a variety of products and platforms including Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Office Services and Web Apps as well as Windows (client and server). However, this month is missing resolutions for Adobe Flash issues; Adobe has recognized CVE-2016-4171 as being exploited in the wild (APSA16-03) but no solution is presently available.


Looking back at the last year of security bulletins, a resounding trend has emerged and continues to be prominent; the majority of these bulletins address RCE. While Microsoft continues actively working on resolving these issues as witnessed in the overwhelming number of critical RCE bulletins, there is an ongoing battle in which they are unable to permanently address these vulnerabilities, which predominantly affect consumer applications such as Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and .NET. Unfortunately, this leads to one of the single largest attack vectors, consumers/end-users.


This month Microsoft resolves 36 vulnerabilities across 16 bulletins with MS16-063, MS16-068, MS16-069, MS16-070 and MS16-080 as the bulletins to watch out for, addressing 21 vulnerabilities. Fortunately at this time, no vulnerabilities are known to have been exploited in the wild. However, one vulnerability from MS16-068 is known to be publicly disclosed CVE-2016-3222.


Users should be wary of untrusted sources as maliciously crafted content could allow an attacker to remotely execute code in order to gain the same rights as your user account. Your best protection against these threats is to patch your systems as quickly as possible. Administrators, be sure to review this month’s bulletins and in accordance with your specific configuration, prioritize your deployment of this month's updates. At a minimum, ensure to patch systems affected by critical bulletins (MS16-063, MS16-068, MS16-069, MS16-070 and MS16-071).


Resolved Vulnerability Reference:

Incremental improvement is great. Nothing, especially in the world of software, is perfect when first released to the market, so iterative improvement is an expectation every customer must have. But problems begin to arise for users when incremental improvement becomes the accepted norm for long periods of time. Many experts in the vulnerability management market believe that is what’s happened in the industry: vendors continuously spit out minimal, albeit important, updates such as a new report format or rebranding a scanner as an ‘agent'. Unfortunately for all of us, when this happens over several years, security teams are slowed - one might say trapped - by their existing solutions, forced to get creative to work around them. As a big part of the vulnerability management community, we wanted to take the time to talk through these trappings and why it’s NOW time to stop accepting them.


It’s often hard to tell what’s happening right now

In most organizations, the vulnerability management program involves a combination of two or more teams and a bevy of activities in multiple stages between asset discovery and remediation. When this process was first implemented, no one imagined it would reach this level of complexity, but as is the case with any cross-departmental system, each moving part adapted, as necessary, to account for the massive growth in workload. And yet, the technology in use by these teams has not made any dramatic changes to accommodate the way a modern, effective program operates.



When you’re not the person handling one of the many tasks along this process, it can feel like you’re the only one doing anything:


  • If you’re on the security team, actively prioritizing what was found in the latest scan and seeing vulns that you swear were sent to remediation last week, you wonder if it’ll ever get done. When you ask about it, you always hear something that sounds (to your biased ears) a lot like what Val said in Tremors: “We plan ahead, that way we don't do anything right now…”
  • On the other side of this process, you have a great deal of work outside of security-related patching and configuration changes, so you learn to tune out the frequent notifications because each claims to be the most critical action you could take all week. You take each ticket you’re assigned and plan it appropriately alongside everything else. You know it’ll get done and you don’t have time to give constant updates on every item.


This feeling of “being in it alone” only worsens when you’re provided outdated information and you lose thirty minutes chasing down the facts. It’s one thing to have to be handed a list of new assets for remediation every week, but when that list is inaccurate and you have to figure out the real list, it doesn’t exactly thrill you to start that work instead of more concrete activities. What must be kept in mind is that frustrations around outdated information aren’t limited to one party here; when the security team opens new tickets or raises outstanding ones only to find out the patch was applied the day after a scan, they realize they’ve lost some of their coworkers’ trust. When you’re frustrated like this, you don’t care that it was the technology’s fault.


Not knowing if you’re vulnerable to an attack makes waiting for the results excruciating

A major reason outdated information is too often used is the regular “cascade of waiting for results." The most extreme version of the window of wait is what has been experienced during the trend of announcing 0-days with a cool logo, marketing-approved name, and immediate Twitter storm, causing the following sequence of waiting events:advocate_bob.gif


You read about it on Twitter --> check your vendor’s blogs to see what they’ve said --> wait for the email update to arrive --> wait until your next scan window --> wait until the scan completes


It isn’t until the end of this InfoSec version of the Jupiter Ascending scene where Advocate Bob goes from room to room to confirm Jupiter’s gene sequence that you get the chance to review the results - and even he who is designed for bureaucracy is visibly frustrated by the end. Then, the right member of the team pulls the report and writes the necessary details into a ticket before starting the waiting once again. You wait until the next scan completes to see if this new headline-grabbing vuln has been eradicated before the next time the executive team meets, since the only security question in every newspaper is sure to be raised.


Small new injections can lead to immediate confusion and tearing up the plan

It’s this stage between scan results and a confirmed remediation that’s had the least support from technology to date. It’s bad enough that teams have to track progress for thousands of actions with spreadsheets, but that only covers the ideal scenarios when newly discovered exposures can be resolved after those already assigned. Your team probably operates more often in a world where some new vulnerabilities take precedence over what you knew the week before. After all, what good is a live view of your exposure surface area if the owner of the master remediation’s spreadsheet is constantly rewriting the plan until he wants to tear it all down like everyone’s favorite Burger Shack employee in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.



There is so much activity between the moment a vulnerability is discovered and it’s been effectively mitigated that security professionals typically have to list Microsoft Excel skills on their resumes to qualify for a job. This may have been a “good enough” solution for the first few years, but spreadsheets just don’t suffice for a workflow in which injections are the norm. You wouldn’t expect your software development team to track every task in this manner, so don’t accept it for the security team who expects the plan to change much more often.


If new risks are typical, your technology needs to take them in stride

Why can vulnerability management programs be as painful as described above? There are multiple reasons, but most of them come from one root cause: the process was built around limitations in the technology of yesterday. Let’s go through a quick list:


  • Passive and continuous scanning consumed too much bandwidth, so scan windows were set for times when they wouldn’t impact productivity
  • Agents evoked management nightmares and endpoint freezing visions from the antivirus era, so new approaches to agents were largely ignored
  • Present-day processing and analytics technologies couldn’t be added to legacy solutions without demanding more hardware, so reporting was the only option to explore results
  • The results were written in the language of CVEs, exploits, and CIS benchmarks, so the IT department needed everything habitually translated for their tickets and workflow


Security teams need to push for better. Better technologies. Better approaches. Better support for today’s reality.


Nexpose Now is the culmination of years of conversations with our customers, ranging from on-site interviews about their daily annoyances through clickable prototypes and the longest, most iterative beta programs in Rapid7’s history. It started when we launched Adaptive Security to take you from discovering systems to being informed of their exposure as soon as they come online. It now extends to watching live dashboards update as soon as a remote laptop across the globe installs vulnerable software (with the agent technology we first released with InsightIDR now in Limited Availability for Nexpose) and tracking its remediation along its entire path from assignment through fix using our new Remediation Workflow (Beta).


While you’re here, go check out what we’ve done with Nexpose Now.

Attackers don’t wait for your schedule, in fact, they try and take advantage of your ‘windows of wait’ when you’re biding your time waiting for a scan. Just think of your typical Patch Tuesday, when you walk in on Wednesday your vulnerability management solution has all the checks, but then you wait for that next scan. You wait for data to be recollected, assessed, and then hopefully served up in a way that is intuitive and describes exactly what you need to do, and when. At that point the work begins to actually get the remediation done, and thirteen days later you’ve finally got it all patched up.


Much of this is a result of technology simply not keeping up with our needs as security pros, as my colleague Matt discussed, but it’s also about combining the right technologies to deliver the right information at the right time. When you have the ability to see fresh data, analyze it easily, serve it up live with detailed priorities, and then manage the remediation with intuitive workflows, you’re no longer passively waiting. You’re acting at the moment of impact.


Introducing Nexpose Now

With all that build up above, NOW it's time to deliver. Today, we announced a major evolution in Nexpose vulnerability management, called Nexpose Now. Users will have the power of threat exposure analytics and live dashboards (generally available today), remediation workflow (Beta as of today) and live monitoring via Rapid7 Insight Agents (Limited Availability today). The combination of these capabilities means the end of passively waiting for the next scan or sifting through all those false alerts. Instead, you will immediately see exactly what needs to be done, how to do it, and manage that progress all the way until it's done.


Let’s take a look at what Nexpose Enterprise and Ultimate users will soon be able to do:


Nexpose Dashboard - Dark.jpg

Easily see the health of your security program with Liveboards and Threat Exposure Analytics (Available Now): New dashboards provide a live scoreboard of where you’re winning and losing in your security program. Unlike most dashboards, which are in reality simply static reports of old data, Nexpose’s Liveboards update instantly when you get new information, and make it easy to dig into granular data with a few clicks – no need for a degree in querying languages or data analytics.




nexpose now graphic.png

Make IT your best friend with Remediation Workflow (Beta): We all know that finding vulnerabilities is only one side of the coin. The key is how fast you can remove those vulns to reduce risk. Our Remediation Workflow will convert vulnerability data into action and hand deliver prioritized tasks and context directly to IT including what needs to be fixed, by when, and why, and you can then watch the progress to ensure the job gets done.


Monitor it all live with Adaptive Security or Rapid7 Agents (Limited Availability): As you all know, Adaptive Security has become an important capability, helping you to see exposures as they are introduced into your environment. The Rapid7 Agents, introduced in early 2016 with our InsightIDR product, are now in Nexpose with Limited Availability. When combined with Adaptive Security you will have a truly live monitoring capability that allows you to further avoid the ‘scan and wait’ trap. We are really looking forward to helping our customers realize this powerful capability.

These new capabilities are opt-in, cloud based features in Nexpose Enterprise and Nexpose Ultimate. Because this is a significant advancement, we’ve created a lot of resources for you to get more information, just head to our Nexpose Now overview page for the very latest.


We believe that the best advancements are made together, and we certainly owe a big THANK YOU to all of the amazing customers that not only participated in our Beta program for Threat Exposure Analytics and Liveboards, but also have talked with us about your need for each of these capabilities. Today we witness the outcome of our combined partnership and further inspired innovation. If interested in participating in the Beta programs for these upcoming releases and more, please reach out to your CSM or sales representative!


NOTE: Rapid7 creates innovative and progressive solutions that help our customers confidently get their jobs done. As such, the development, release, and timing of any product features or functionality described remains at our discretion in order to ensure our customers the excellent experience they deserve and is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any functionality. 

In my last blog post I went in depth on Impact Driven Analysis and Response, an often-overlooked but very handy analysis option in Nexpose. Today I'd like to talk about another great option for analysis - filtering assets based on their discovered vulnerabilities by Vulnerability Category. We will use Filtered Asset search to take a focused look at a specific category: Default Account findings.


Default accounts are high significance findings with low effort remediations, making them an easy win for targeted analysis. We'll look at how to perform this analysis and the operational value of these easy wins for new and maturing vulnerability management programs.


Performing Default Account Analysis


Looking at Vulnerability Categories

A Vulnerability Category is simply a grouping of similar vulnerabilities based on common criteria.  A single vulnerability may belong to multiple categories, i.e. a Cisco default account finding may show up in the 'Cisco' category and the 'Default Account' category. You can view an interactive drill-down list of available Vulnerability Categories directly in your Nexpose Console. Just use this URL, substituting in the hostname for your console: https://localhost:3780/vulnerability/categories.jsp


We're going to focus on the Default Account category, but this same analysis technique can be used for any category. I recommend taking 10-15 minutes one day to look down that list and see what catches your interest.


Vulnerability Category Analysis - Filtered Asset Search

You can get to the Filtered Asset search feature using the Filter icon in the upper right of the UI or by selecting 'Dynamic Asset Group' in the Create mean at the top.




The Filtered Asset Search feature allows you to search for assets based on the specific Vulnerability categories for discovered vulnerabilities. Take a look:




You can save your search results in an Asset group (either Dynamic or Static) or as a dynamic RealContext tag for ongoing analysis. I would call this group 'Default Accounts' and add a corresponding red custom tag myself, but you can configure it how you like. If you configure a Dynamic Asset group, this list will automatically update with each new scan.


Targeted Reporting

In addition to searching for assets, you can filter reports by Vulnerability category as well.  In the 'Scope' section of the 'Create a report' view in Nexpose, there is a 'Filter report scope based on vulnerabilities' option.  You will see the ability to filter by Vulnerability Category - just select the 'Include specific' radio button and use the multi-select dropdown.




Responding to Default Account Findings


Why They're Significant

Default account findings are of especially high significance because they open the door for an attacker to directly access a system without the effort and risk of detection associated with executing an exploit. There's a reason default accounts are instant-fail findings for PCI compliance. Using standards-based metrics can be an effective way to help communicate this significance more broadly, for instance:



There will be some nuance to the impact for any given environment, but hopefully the above example helps demonstrate the scale of the significance for these findings.



One of the great things about a default account finding is how easily you can confirm and remediate the finding. All that you need to do to confirm the finding is try to log in with the same credentials. In order to remediate the finding, you can either remove the default account or change the default password for the account.


This does, of course, assume the account is modifiable; if it's baked in to an embedded system, you would have to sort that out with the vendor and restrict all access to that particular service at a lower layer (i.e. firewall protection). Leveraging the CVSS score and the Nexpose Real Risk score associated with the finding may even help to communicate the significance of these findings to upstream vendors.


An Easy Win!

As we discussed above, default accounts are high significance findings with low effort to remediate.  This makes them a great option for organizations just starting their vulnerability management programs, or simply growing and maturing their existing process. Starting with targeted analysis lets you focus more time up front figuring out the practical operational details of your program, including: communication channels for remediation (i.e. report distribution, ticketing system integrations), organizational ownership for remediation, and managerial oversight.


Often these practical details create the biggest blockers to getting real security work done. By focusing on easy win findings at the beginning, you can help everyone involved with the program get comfortable with the workflow.


Custom Account Checks

One of the first questions people ask when they see this functionality is, "how can I add my own default accounts?" Often times developers will use common credentials for convenience during the development cycle with the intent of disabling those common credentials for production. Missing that last step can be a major problem though, and a diligent security team will want to validate that no in-house common credentials get used on production systems.


Good news - it is possible to create your own Default Account checks! You can write a custom vulnerability check for a default account using the instructions from the 'Default account checks' section of the Community site.


If you'd like an easier approach than writing custom vulnerability checks, you're not alone!  That idea has been suggested in our Idea Portal.  All you have to do is click here, log in with your customer (or employee) support credentials, and vote!

Today I'd like to highlight an often overlooked but very handy analysis option in Nexpose - filtering assets based on their discovered vulnerability CVSS Impact Metrics (Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability).


We will use RealContext tags and Filtered Asset Search to answer the following questions:

  • Are there any Availability Impact findings on High Availability systems? (i.e. web servers, authentication servers)
  • Are there any Confidentiality Impact findings on systems with Highly Confidential data? (i.e. HR systems, finance systems)
  • Are there any Integrity Impact findings on systems which should be High Integrity? (i.e. security systems, credential management systems, domain controllers)


Filtered Asset Search

You can get to the Filtered Asset search feature using the Filter icon in the upper right of the UI or by selecting "Dynamic Asset Group" in the Create menu at the top.




The Filtered Asset search feature allows you to search for assets based on the specific CVSS Impact Metrics of the asset's discovered vulnerabilities. The same goes for CVSS Exploitability Metrics. Take a look:



RealContext Tagging

RealContext asset tagging allows you to add your specific business context information to the technical data gathered by Nexpose. All you need to do is get a list of all High Availability (or High Confidentiality, or High Integrity) systems in your environment and tag those assets accordingly in Nexpose.


Putting It Together - High Availability Risk Analysis

When you combine the RealContext tag data with the CVSS Impact Metric filtering option in Nexpose, things get really interesting. You can set up a search to explicitly find High Availability assets which have Availability Impact findings on them, like this:




You can save your search results in an Asset Group (either Dynamic or Static) or as a dynamic RealContext tag for ongoing analysis. I would call this group 'High Availability Risk' myself, but you can choose any name you like.  If you configure a Dynamic Asset Group, this list will automatically update with each new scan.


High Availability Risk Reporting

Nexpose provides the ability to filter vulnerability findings in a report.  This is a great feature which lets you filter by severity and vulnerability category. Unfortunately for our immediate purposes, the report filtering does not let us filter on CVSS Impact Metrics. But don't worry!


For advanced reporting needs, Nexpose has a flexible SQL Query Export option.  You can find this by going to "Create a report" and selecting the Export tab within the Reports view.


Here's a query that lists all vulnerabilities with Partial or Complete Availability Impact findings, and the solutions for those vulnerabilities.  Note the use of the cvss_availability_impact_id field from the dim_vulnerability table and the use of the dim_cvss_availability_impact table:


SELECT AS "Site", da.ip_address AS "Asset IP", da.host_name AS "Asset Hostname", dv.title  AS "Vulnerabiltiy", ds.summary AS "Solution", dcai.description AS "CVSS Availability Impact"
FROM fact_asset_vulnerability_instance AS fav
JOIN fact_vulnerability AS fv ON fav.vulnerability_id = fv.vulnerability_id
JOIN dim_vulnerability AS dv ON fav.vulnerability_id = dv.vulnerability_id
JOIN dim_site_asset AS dsa ON fav.asset_id = dsa.asset_id
JOIN dim_site AS dsite ON dsa.site_id = dsite.site_id
JOIN dim_asset AS da ON fav.asset_id = da.asset_id
JOIN dim_vulnerability_solution AS dvs ON fv.vulnerability_id = dvs.vulnerability_id
JOIN dim_solution AS ds ON dvs.solution_id = ds.solution_id
JOIN dim_cvss_availability_impact AS dcai ON dv.cvss_availability_impact_id = dcai.type_id
WHERE dv.cvss_availability_impact_id = 'P' OR dv.cvss_availability_impact_id = 'C'
GROUP by, da.ip_address, da.host_name, dv.title, ds.summary, dcai.description


If you save this Custom SQL Export query and set the scope using the 'High Availability Risk' asset group from earlier, you will get a targeted list of the Partial and Complete Availability Impact vulnerabilities on your High Availability assets.


To learn more about working with SQL Query Exports in Nexpose, and some example queries, see this Nexpose Reporting area of the Rapid7 Community site.



One of the initial questions posed was, "are there any Availability Impact findings on High Availability systems?" By leveraging the Filtered Asset Search and RealContext Tag features, we are able to create a 'High Availability Risk' asset group and a 'High Availability Risk' CSV report - with solutions included. This definitively answers the question and provides remediation recommendations. I call that a win!


You can apply the same approach for High Confidentiality and High Integrity risk analysis following the steps below:

  • Tag your High Confidentiality or High Integrity assets accordingly
  • Use the Filtered Asset Search feature to create 'High Confidentiality Risk' and 'High Integrity Risk' Dynamic Asset Groups
  • Set up a SQL report for your findings. Adjust the query above - swap out the 'availability' fields and tables for the corresponding 'confidentiality' and 'integrity' fields and tables.


If you'd like to see this reporting capability baked in to the vulnerability filtering possible in the Nexpose Reporting UI - so would I!  I've created an idea in our Idea Portal.  All you have to do is click here, log in with your customer (or employee) support credentials, and vote!


Custom Targeted Analytics

If your organization wants deep analytics customized to your priorities, the Rapid7 Global Services team is always happy to help! We develop targeted analytics for: custom reports, custom SQL queries, custom dashboards, custom integrations (i.e. ticketing systems, asset management systems), and more. Your Customer Success Manager (CSM) can get the conversation started about requirements, scoping, and all that fun stuff.


Thanks, and stay tuned for more!


Patch Tuesday, May 2016

Posted by anowak Employee May 11, 2016

May continues a long-running trend with Microsoft where the majority of bulletins (10) address remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities; the remaining address elevation of privilege (2), information disclosure (2) and security feature bypass. All critical bulletins are remote code execution issues affecting a variety of products and platforms including Adobe Flash Player, Edge, Internet Explorer, .NET Framework, Office, Office Services and Web Apps and Windows (client and server).


Looking back at the last 12 months of security bulletins, a resounding trend emerges; the majority of these bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities. Microsoft is unable to permanently address these vulnerabilities, which predominantly affect consumer applications such as Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and .NET. Unfortunately, this leads to one of the single largest attack vectors, consumers/end-users. Fortunately, Microsoft actively works on resolving these issues as witnessed in the overwhelming number of critical RCE bulletins.


This month, Microsoft resolves 33 vulnerabilities across 16 bulletins with MS16-051, MS16-052, MS16-053, MS16-055, and MS16-062 as the bulletins to watch out for, addressing 20 vulnerabilities. Users should pay particular attention to the following bulletins as they resolve X vulnerabilities that have been known to be exploited (CVE-2016-0149, CVE-2016-0189):


  • MS16-051 - Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer
  • MS16-053 - Cumulative Security Update for JScript and VBScript
  • MS16-065 - Security Update for .NET Framework


Users should also be wary of untrusted sources, as maliciously crafted content could allow an attacker to remotely execute code in-order to gain the same rights as your user account. Your best protection against these threats is to patch as quickly as possible. Administrators, be sure to review this month’s bulletins and in accordance with your specific configuration and prioritize your deployment of this months’ updates. At a minimum, ensure to patch systems affected by critical bulletins.


Resolved Vulnerability Reference:

This year’s 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report has plenty of juicy data to pour over and for the past week we’ve been providing recommendations for ways to improve your security program and stop attackers. The report didn’t provide any huge surprises, except for the fact that everything that was bad just keeps getting worse. Thus, we’ve had some great posts from my teammates focused on the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report and how it affects the incident detection and response landscape with Eric Sun and the web app security space from Kim Dinerman. But today it’s time to talk vulnerability management.


Vulnerability Management has been around for a long time, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, practically every attack outlined in the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report or any other industry report still involves an exploited vulnerability at some point. The DBIR provides some key controls to implement to get a handle on the never ending growth of new vulnerabilities, and wouldn’t you know it, they match up perfectly to some of the key reasons our customers love Nexpose.


1. Focus on what the bad guys look for first

The DBIR describes patching vulnerabilities as a “Sisyphean struggle," with more vulnerabilities being released every week. Keeping pace is difficult. To stop endlessly running up that hill (bonus points if you get the 80s Kate Bush reference), they recommend you “establish a process for vulnerability remediation that targets vulnerabilities which attackers are exploiting in the wild, followed by vulnerabilities with known exploits or proof-of-concept code." Basically, prioritize the vulnerabilities and get that stuff done first, but one must remember that you have to look beyond CVSS.


Here to help: This is what Nexpose is all about! We’re still the only solution that automatically factors known exploits into our risk scoring (including how easy the exploit is to use), and with Metasploit Pro, you can validate your vulnerabilities to see which ones an attacker could exploit in real time. Check out this quick video to see how easy it is to scan for vulnerabilities with Nexpose and then validate your vulnerabilities with Metasploit Pro.


2. Identify what can’t be fixed, and come up with a plan to mitigate it

Many companies have critical systems running on legacy software that they can’t update without impacting their business; that doesn’t mean you can ignore the risk. Use a defense-in-depth policy to create mitigating controls for these flaws, so that if you have to leave a hole in the wall open, make damn sure it’s fortified (think the wall tunnel in Game of Thrones).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Here to help: Nexpose makes it really easy to create exceptions for these vulnerabilities and remove them from reports, as well as set expiration dates and approval chains to make sure you revisit them when you can. You can also use Metasploit to validate those compensating controls and make sure they’re blocking the bad guys the way they should.









     Mag the Mighty, only slightly scarier than attackers


3. Use vulnerability management to figure out what’s new in your environment

Regular vulnerability scanning is like flossing in between going to the dentist; it’s a great way to keep up on security hygiene, and the DBIR suggests you use it to identify unknown assets and deviations from standard configurations.


Here to help: Nexpose has baseline comparison and trending reports to make it easy to see what’s new, and with adaptive security you set up Nexpose to automatically scan and catalog new devices as they enter the network, removing a lot of the legwork that comes with today’s rapidly shifting environments. To learn more about adaptive security, check out this on-demand webcast.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on these controls and how you’re meeting them now! If you haven’t already, be sure to get a trial of Nexpose and/or Metasploit and take them for a spin!


Over the past year our Nexpose team has taken on the challenge of overhauling our product and internal processes to enable more frequent and seamless content releases. The objective is simple, get customers content to their consoles faster without disrupting their workflow and currently running or scheduled scans. This enables security teams to respond to industry trends much faster and coupled with our new adaptive security feature enables low impact delta scans of just the new or updated vulnerabilities. This ensures that the cumulative view of your assets are always fresh with current vulnerability findings. Add in some automated alerts, auto generated reports, custom dashboards and you’ve got a workflow for staying on top of your network.


Content updates include:

  • New or updated vulnerability descriptions, vulnerability checks, remediation guidance (solutions).
  • New vulnerability categories (new platforms, applications).
  • New or updated software fingerprints (operating systems and applications).
  • Updated vulnerability correlation, exploit, malware, supersedence, etc. metadata.


Our Content Delivery Vision

To react accurately and quickly to vendor releases of security advisories and industry trends, allowing stakeholders to contextualize risk and affected scope with minimal effort and operational impact, then take action and validate the remediation efforts.


Where Are We Now

We’re happy to share the news that for over a month now, we’ve been quietly releasing content updates to our customers as quickly as feasible and at minimum, on a daily basis (Monday – Friday and on weekends as needed). We’ve built automation that enables the generation, testing, packaging and seamless delivery of new content far more frequently (with no scanning impact, nor need to restart your consoles and engines). Moving forward you can expect more of the same as we continue progress towards the vision shared above.


How Do I Use This

So how do you take advantage of the increased update cadence? If your running Nexpose and have updates enabled you’ll automatically be receiving the latest and greatest product and content enhancements. The good news is you’ve already started taking advantage of these new capabilities. Take a look at our blog post on adaptive security and automatically triggering delta scans when updated vulnerability content is released. If you’re interested, dig in a little deeper to find out how adaptive security fits into your Vulnerability Management Program. Combining frequent updates, adaptive security, our built-in alerting and reporting capabilities, you’ve got a potent workflow to stay on top of the risk in your environment.


As always, we’ll continue building the functionality our customers ask for (feedback is always appreciated), we’ve got an exciting pipeline of enhancements planned that’ll further streamline the workflow to reduce your risk of a breach.


Onwards and upwards!

David Picotte

Manager of Engineering, Security

Starting this week, we have added a new vulnerability category: Rapid7 Critical.


When we examine a typical vulnerability, each vulnerability comes with various pieces of information such as CVE id, CVSS score, and others. These pieces of information can be very handy especially when you set up Automated Actions in Nexpose. Here is an example:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.17.21 AM.png

As you can see the example on the right, this trigger will initiate a scan action if there is a new coverage available that meets the criteria of CVSS score is 8 or above. This Automated Action is ideal for assessing for high-risk vulnerabilities right away. With Rapid7 Critical vulnerability category, we are giving you another indicator for high-risk vulnerabilities.


You might be thinking that the above Automated Action is good enough to catch high-risk vulnerabilities given the criteria is to take action as soon as a vulnerability with CVSS score 8 and above is released. Yes, you are right! For most circumstances, the above Automated Action would be good enough. However, the Rapid7 Critical vulnerability category ensures that you do not miss any high-risk vulnerabilities at all especially when the vulnerability is brand new.


When a vulnerability is new, it may not always have a CVSS score assigned it to it yet. When that happens, the above Automated Action may not be fully capable of assessing the new high-risk vulnerability simply because there is no CVSS score to check. With Rapid7 Critical vulnerability category, we are making sure that even if there no CVSS score yet for the vulnerability, you can still assess it with Adaptive Security right away.


Let me show you how you can use the Rapid7 Critical vulnerability category in Automated Actions.


Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.18.00 AM.png

As you can see the example on the right, you would just create a new Automated Action, and select only one filter*; Vulnerability Category is Rapid7 Critical. This Automated Action will ensure that Nexpose initiates a scan for the high-risk vulnerability even though the vulnerability does not have a CVSS score assigned to it yet.


If you already have an Automated Action similar to the first example in this blog post which uses CVSS score as a filter, you should not delete it. The second Automated Action that you created will simply catch those critical vulnerabilities in case there is no CVSS score available yet.


As always, feel free to drop us any comments below, or reach out to Rapid7 Support if you have any questions.



* We do not recommend using any other filter along with Rapid7 Critical vulnerability category filter to make sure that the Automated Action initiates a scan for all critical vulnerabilities that are marked by Rapid7.


Eray Yilmaz

Sr. Product Manager


Update Tuesday, April 2016

Posted by anowak Employee Apr 12, 2016

April continues a long-running trend with Microsoft where the majority of bulletins (9) address remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities; the remaining address elevation of privilege (2), security feature bypass and denial of service (DOS). All critical bulletins are remote code execution issues affecting a variety of products and platforms including Adobe Flash Player, Edge, Internet Explorer, .NET Framework, Office, Office Services and Web Apps, Skype for Business, Lync and Windows (client and server). '


Looking back at the last 12 months of security bulletins, a resounding trend emerges: the majority of these bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities. Microsoft is unable to permanently address these vulnerabilities, which predominantly affect consumer applications such as Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and .NET. Unfortunately, this leads to one of the single largest attack vectors, consumers/end-users. Fortunately, Microsoft actively works on resolving these issues as witnessed in the overwhelming number of critical RCE bulletins.


This month Microsoft resolves 29 vulnerabilities across 13 bulletins with MS16-037, MS16-038, MS16-039 and MS16-042 as the bulletins to watch out for, addressing 19 vulnerabilities. Users should pay particular attention to MS16-039 - Security Update for Microsoft Graphics Component as this bulletin resolves two vulnerabilities that have been known to be exploited (CVE-2016-0165 and CVE-2016-0167). Microsoft has also provided a resolution to the Named vulnerability Badlock (CVE-2016-2118), addressed by Microsoft in MS16-047 - Security Update for SAM and LSAD Remote Protocols. Since a wide range of products are affected this month, all Microsoft users should be on alert.


Users should be wary of untrusted sources as maliciously crafted content could allow an attacker to remotely execute code in-order to gain the same rights as your user account. Your best protection against these threats is to patch as quickly as possible. Administrators, be sure to review this month’s bulletins and in accordance with your specific configuration, prioritize your deployment of this months’ updates. At a minimum, ensure to patch systems affected by critical bulletins.


Resolved Vulnerability Reference:

Since I started working on Rapid7’s Information Security team, I’ve had firsthand experience with what is arguably the hardest part of vulnerability management: Creating and updating a complete inventory of your assets and their vulnerabilities. While you’ll never be able to achieve perfection in this regard, Adaptive Security in Nexpose makes it significantly easier for InfoSec teams to improve their current vulnerability management program with automation and orchestration.


For my team, Adaptive Security’s “New Asset” and “Known Asset” triggers provide us new ways to get up-to-date vulnerability data about remote assets that rarely connect to our corporate networks. While experimenting with these triggers in my Adaptive Security workflows, I’ve come up with some optimal ways to deploy them that I figured would be worth sharing with our customers.


Optimization Prerequisites

You might not have all of these prerequisites in place (e.g., Scan Engines dedicated for Adaptive Security scans), but hopefully being able to use some of them will put you and your team in a better position to leverage Adaptive Security’s New Asset and Known Asset triggers.


Create Discovery Connections

This is necessary for Adaptive Security to use asset-based Triggers. For this blog post I’ll be focusing on use cases involving DHCP Dynamic Discovery.


Enable Asset Linking

When known assets come back online after being disconnected from your corporate network for awhile, they’ll likely have different IP addresses over time. Asset Linking allows you to maintain one record for an asset that has multiple IP addresses assigned to it throughout its lifecycle on your corporate network.


Create new Static Sites dedicated to Adaptive Security scans

Think about this scenario: you have multiple employees that regularly travel to remote offices. You also have Static Sites for each remote office that run on a regular schedule. If you use Adaptive Security’s “Known asset” Trigger with the “add to site and scan” Action, and you use your existing Static Sites, you run the risk of cluttering your Static Sites with these traveling assets. The next time your Static Site’s scan runs, it will try to scan assets that Adaptive Security added to the Static Site Asset scope. Chances are those assets aren’t actually in that Site anymore, so your Engine will be wasting precious time and resources.


| Related Content – How to setup automated actions in Nexpose 6 |


These dedicated Sites also give you the ability to see Adaptive Security’s historical scan activity. Likewise, it provides opportunities for automatically tagging assets that Adaptive Security has scanned.


Use Scan Engines dedicated to Adaptive Security scans

This might be the hardest prerequisite to fulfill, but it helps make sure Adaptive Security doesn’t overload an existing scan engine that’s running a scheduled scan, thus minimizing scan failures.


Here’s an example of Site Configuration details for Static Sites dedicated to Adaptive Security “Known Assets” scanning:

  • Name: Austin DHCP – Known Assets (AS)
  • Custom Tags: Stale
    For the “Known Assets” use case, I use this to get an idea of which assets don’t touch our corporate network frequently to make sure they receive patches and updated security configurations in a timely fashion from our patch management solution.
  • Assets:
    When defining these dedicated sites, you need to put in an IP address so the Site can be saved. Since we won’t be running this site on a recurring schedule, put in a “dummy” IP. Also it’s better to put in in case you or another Nexpose admin ever “accidentally” clicks the “Scan Now” button for the site). Here's an example:Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.58.28 PM.png
  • Engines: Austin (Adaptive Security)
  • Schedule: None
    Since Adaptive Security will be adding assets individually to the Site configuration and then automatically initiating scans of those individual assets, we don’t need the Site to ever be scanned on a schedule


And here’s an example of the Automated Action details for “Known Assets” scanning:

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.57.22 PM.png


Hopefully this helps you and your team improve your vulnerability management programs. I’m interested to see if anyone else finds this useful or has other tips to make these use cases work better, so please leave your comments and feedback below

With Nexpose, you can assess your network for secure configurations at the same time as vulnerabilities, giving you a unified view of your risk and compliance posture. The latest version of Nexpose focuses on making it easier to understand how well you’re doing and the actions to take to improve overall compliance.


Starting with Nexpose 6.2.0, users now have access to two brand new policy reports that help you take control of your compliance program and focus on what is important.


The first report is the Policy Rule Breakdown Report, which provides a rule by rule breakdown of a policy for each asset. This allows you to understand which rules have passed and which have failed, giving you a high level view of how compliant each of your assets are and which rules to focus on.




The second report is the Top Compliance Remediations Report, which provides a prioritized list of remediations to help you drive your compliance program. This list is prioritized based on the actions that will have the greatest impact in improving overall compliance across all your assets.



By default, this report will show the Top 25 Remediations prioritized by Nexpose, but you can to change this to a number that meets your needs. In the sample report above, remediating all of the identified issues will increase overall compliance by 12% within the scope of the report. You’ll notice that in this example the top 25 issues are identified based on 671 rules across 10 assets, which is the scope of this particular report. All of this information is rule driven with a detailed breakdown of how remediating  specific rules will impact your overall compliance score. As you work through the remediation efforts identified, you can expect to see these numbers get smaller and smaller.

As most, if not all, current Intel Security customers are aware, Intel has announced the End-of-Life of the McAfee Vulnerability Manager, aka. MVM. Coupled with that announcement, Intel also announces it has partnered with Rapid7 and is recommending that current, and future Intel Security customers, leverage Rapid7's Nexpose to fill their vulnerability and threat exposure management needs.


To aid in the transition from MVM to Nexpose, Rapid7, has developed a Migration Toolkit. The Toolkit contains documentation to walk a customer through a typical pre-deployment/deployment tasks, pre-migration tasks, migration tasks, and post-migration tasks.


Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 1.59.36 PM.png

You may download the Migration Related Documentation from the community at:


The Migration Toolkit also contains a set of utility scripts to export relevant configuration and data from MVM and import it into Nexpose.

The Migration Utilitywill migrate the following:

  • Scan Configurations; including included and excluded assets, and scan schedule
  • Asset Groups and associated assets
  • Asset Tags applied to assets; including criticality, owner and custom tags
  • Asset Inventory; including IP address, host name, OS, discovered ports and services
  • Scan Credentials (i.e. Credential Sets)
  • Users



Exporting of MVM Scan Configurations:

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 2.14.13 PM.png

Importing of Scan Configurations into Nexpose:

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 2.13.30 PM.png


The Migration Utility is free to MVM customers that have purchased Nexpose, and is available as a virtual machine for simple setup, configuration and migration. If you are a former MVM customer and are moving to Nexpose, ask your Account Executive or Customer Success Manager about obtaining the Migration Utility. If you purchased Deployment Services, your Global Services Project Manager will advise you where to download the latest Migration Utility.

As we have reached out to customers for feedback on Adaptive Security use cases (see: Adaptive Security Overview for details on this feature), we have found that many customers would like to control the outcome of the “New Asset discovered” trigger. They want to be able to not just kick a scan since they either have some restrictions as to when to scan, or they don’t scan everything that comes out of DHCP (or other dynamic source of assets), for some networks they do spot checking and don’t want to scan everything.


The video below illustrates the usage of adaptive security’s “New Asset Discovered” trigger and how to pick the actions taken when new assets are added to your environment. The video shows that you can do multiple things to answer to the trigger:

  • Add the assets to a site and scan them
  • Add the assets to a site and not scan right away
  • Add assets that meet a certain rule (ie. ip range - to a site and scan, while assets that meet another rule (ie. ip range - to be added to the site but not immediately scanned.


The video shows how a Dynamic Site based on a DHCP connection is different than a Static site with Automated actions for new assets discovered. Furthermore the video explains that you have full control of your scanning windows and the fact that a “New Asset Discovered” action triggered does not mean you have to scan the asset right away, you have full control. Also, blackouts, both site level and global are ALWAYS respected by the Adaptive security feature, therefore, if a trigger that starts a scan happens in between a blackout, the scan will be held/queued until the blackout is completed and then kicked.


I hope you enjoy the video and you can put in practice these concepts to automate further the Vulnerability Management program at your organization.

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