Network Devices

Network devices, also called network infrastructure devices, are a critical portion of your IT framework. Similar to how the nervous system handles the communication of all bodily signals between vital organs, network devices enable connectivity and communication between users, devices, applications, and the internet. They include components such as switches, routers, firewalls, wireless access points, and integrated access devices.

Why do we need a vulnerability scanner for network devices?

Given their importance, it might be misconstrued that network devices receive as much maintenance attention as every other system or server. However, in reality, it is often quite the opposite. SysAdmins, fearing the unaffordable downtime that can come when modifications are made to enhance the security posture of network devices, often shy away from implementing changes in them. The lack of conventional tools to monitor these network machines further increases the chance they could be changed into a breeding ground for threat vectors.

Malicious cyberactors, who are usually quick to recognize configuration oversights, readily see these network devices as ideal targets. In most organizations, customer traffic passes through these machines, further incentivizing the attackers to target them. If an attacker gains a proper footing in a network through these devices, they can access all the traffic and data passing through it, and bring the organization's entire IT infrastructure down by launching laterally moving attacks.

The worst part is the potentially recurrent nature of the attacks. Even if remedial actions by the IT team are implemented to combat and clean up after the attacks, the attention is mostly directed towards workstations, while the threat actors continue to secretly thrive in the network devices waiting for an opportunity to strike again.

In many organizations, inadequate maintenance efforts are common for network devices, and a plethora of firmware vulnerabilities often result. Organizations should equally prioritize firmware vulnerabilities with software vulnerabilities; implementing a foolproof vulnerability scanning and patching workflow for network devices ensures that the network remains secure from firmware vulnerabilities too.

How does Vulnerability Manager Plus combat network device vulnerabilities?

ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus uses a swift, agentless approach to assist SysAdmins addressing firmware vulnerabilities in network devices. This process to fortify network device security involves three steps:

  • Discover the network devices<
  • Scan for firmware vulnerabilities
  • Remediate and manage vulnerabilities
  • Discover the network devices

    Network devices are utilized across the organization, and the first step to enhance the security of these devices is to generate a consolidated inventory. Vulnerability Manager Plus performs the Nmap scan to discover network devices.

    Devices that need to be managed can be discovered and added by first specifying the local office or remote office they are a part of, and then specifying either an IP address or the IP range of the entire network. Once all the network devices are discovered, the IT admin can select and add the necessary devices to the Managed Devices list. Learn more.

  • Scan for firmware vulnerabilities

    Once the devices to be managed are discovered and added, the next step is to configure the details required for their scan. Vulnerability Manager Plus executes the scan through an agentless approach, and requires the credentials of the managed devices to access their information to advance the scanning process. These protocols are used for this purpose:

    • SNMP protocol: Used to arrive at information such as device type, vendor, series, and model of the managed network devices.These details are used to identify the firmware version detection command since it differs with every vendor and device.
    • SSH protocol: Used to run the identified firmware version detection command on the managed devices. Once the version is detected, vulnerabilities corresponding to it are correlated and displayed against that particular device.

    To leverage these protocols, the administrative SNMP and SSH credentials of the devices must be added. Since the same credentials can apply to multiple network devices, they are added separately and then mapped to the corresponding devices. Learn more about adding credentials and mapping them to the respective network devices.

    Once credentials are mapped to the devices, an authenticated scan will be immediately performed on these devices to detect firmware vulnerabilities. Subsequent scans will occur automatically every time the vulnerability database sync occurs. Manual scans can also be configured at the IT admin's convenience.

  • Remediate and manage vulnerabilities

    Before we remediate and manage the discovered vulnerabilities, we can group the discovered network devices to streamline the process. Since firmware patch deployment policies can have only devices belonging to the same vendor, OS, and series as simultaneous targets, discovered devices must be grouped that way. Learn more about grouping network devices.

    Firmware vulnerabilities are remediated by deploying the latest patch or the stable firmware version. Here are the three steps for this process:

    • Upload the firmware patch
    • Choose targets
    • Configure deployment settings
    • Upload the firmware patch

      The first step is uploading the latest patch, or the stable firmware version required to fix the vulnerability. Details of the patch or firmware version, along with the link to the vendor website to download it, will be made available corresponding to the vulnerability. Once it is downloaded, it must be uploaded to the Vulnerability Manager Plus server. The checksum details displayed can be used to check the integrity of the uploaded patch.

    • Choose targets

      The applicable devices affected by the vulnerability will be automatically selected for deployment and displayed here. Targets selected can be modified to meet the requirement.

    • Configure deployment settings

      Deployment can either be scheduled to happen automatically, or at a set time. Updating to the latest firmware version resolves all vulnerabilities discovered in the machine, including those from older versions of the firmware.

    Learn more about uploading patches/firmware.

Note: Vulnerability Manager Plus currently supports patching only for network devices that run the Cisco and Juniper OS.

With Vulnerability Manager Plus, IT admins no longer have to toggle between multiple security tools. Along with network device vulnerability scanning and management, it features software vulnerability assessments, patch management, CIS compliance, security configuration management, web server hardening, and high risk software audit capabilities in the same console to ensure centralized, seamless management.

With ManageEngine Vulnerability Manager Plus, you can receive a 360-degree snapshot of your security posture when you download a fully functional, 30-day trial version. You can also schedule a free demo with a solutions expert to have your product questions answered.