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Securing Your Linux Server with OpenVAS: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction to OpenVAS

Protecting your Linux server from security issues is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your system. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and as a result, it is important to have a reliable and efficient vulnerability assessment scanner that can detect, assess, and report on any potential threats.

OpenVAS is an open-source software that can help you do just that. In this article, we will explore the importance of scanning Linux servers for security issues and provide an overview of OpenVAS.

We will also look at how to install OpenVAS on Linux systems, including how to enable the universe repository for Ubuntu distributions.

Importance of Scanning Linux Server for Security Issues

As a Linux server user, you should be aware of the security risks that come with using the system. Vulnerabilities can arise from various causes, including improper configuration, outdated software, and system misconfigurations.

By scanning your system with a vulnerability assessment scanner such as OpenVAS, you can detect and remediate these issues before they become severe. Some of the security issues that can be detected by OpenVAS include misconfigurations, weak passwords, missing patches, and unauthorized network access.

These vulnerabilities could result in loss of data, privacy breaches, and even financial losses if not addressed promptly.

Overview of OpenVAS

OpenVAS is a powerful vulnerability assessment scanner that is used to scan and detect vulnerabilities on a Linux system. It is designed to be easy to use and configure, and it can be customized to meet the specific needs of your system.

OpenVAS is an open-source tool which means that it is free to download and use. It is also updated frequently, providing the latest security checks for your system.

OpenVAS utilizes the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to rate the severity of vulnerabilities that it has detected.

Installing OpenVAS

OpenVAS is available on a number of Linux distributions and can be installed using the package manager for each distribution. Here are the steps to follow to install OpenVAS on Ubuntu.

Availability of OpenVAS in Major Linux Distributions

Before installing OpenVAS, it is important to check whether it is available in your Linux distribution. Fortunately, OpenVAS is available in most major Linux distributions, including Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE, and Fedora.

Enabling Universe Repository to Install OpenVAS on Ubuntu

To install OpenVAS on Ubuntu, you need to enable the Universe repository. The Universe repository contains all the packages that are not officially supported by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu.

To enable the Universe repository, follow these steps:

1. Open the terminal and type the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository universe

2.

Once you have enabled the Universe repository, update your system’s package list by typing the following command:

sudo apt-get update

3. Next, install OpenVAS using the following command:

sudo apt-get install openvas

4.

After the installation is complete, start the OpenVAS service by running the following command:

sudo systemctl start openvas-scanner

5. Next, initialize OpenVAS by running the following command:

sudo openvas-setup

6.

Finally, start the OpenVAS web interface by running the following command:

sudo systemctl start openvas-gsa

Conclusion

In conclusion, OpenVAS is a powerful vulnerability assessment scanner that is designed to scan Linux systems for security issues. By using OpenVAS, you can detect vulnerabilities and remediate them before they become severe.

OpenVAS is available on most major Linux distributions and can be installed easily using the package manager. With OpenVAS installed, you can get a comprehensive report of your system’s security status and take appropriate measures to secure your system.

Using OpenVAS

User Management in OpenVAS

OpenVAS allows you to manage users and assign roles. As a system administrator, you can create new user accounts, assign roles, and control user access.

The roles determine the level of access that a user has, and you can create custom roles if the default roles are not suitable. To manage users in OpenVAS, you can access the web interface and navigate to the User Management section.

Here, you can add, modify, or delete user accounts as well as assign roles.

Launching and Stopping OpenVAS

OpenVAS can be launched and stopped using the command line interface. By default, the OpenVAS service is launched automatically during system boot, but you can also start the service manually using the following command:

sudo systemctl start openvas-scanner

If you need to stop the OpenVAS service, simply use the following command:

sudo systemctl stop openvas-scanner

It’s important to note that stopping the OpenVAS service could result in loss of data, so it’s best to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Scanning for Vulnerabilities with OpenVAS

OpenVAS allows you to scan your network or server for vulnerabilities using scan targets such as IP addresses or ranges. You can configure your scan to include or exclude certain hosts or services based on your needs.

To start a scan, you will need to log in to the OpenVAS web interface, navigate to the Scans section, and create a new scan profile. This profile will contain details such as the scan target, the type of scan to be performed, and the reporting options.

Once the scan profile is configured, start the scan and wait for the results. It is important to note that OpenVAS can perform both authenticated and non-authenticated scans, depending on the required level of detail.

Authenticated scans require valid credentials for each target, while non-authenticated scans do not need credentials.

Results and Reports in OpenVAS

Once a scan is complete, the results are displayed in the OpenVAS web interface under the Results section. You can view the vulnerabilities and their severity, as well as any recommended remediation steps.

You can filter the results based on various parameters, such as severity or host. OpenVAS also provides reporting options that allow you to export the scan results to various formats such as HTML, LaTeX, or XML.

You can customize the report to include relevant details such as the vulnerability severity, test description, and scan time.

Benefits of OpenVAS

User-Friendly Interface for Detailed Scans

OpenVAS has a user-friendly web interface that simplifies the process of scanning for vulnerabilities. The interface provides a dashboard with detailed information on scan progress, results, and reporting.

The filters and search options available make it easy to sort and find relevant information, and the reporting features provide export options for easy sharing with relevant stakeholders.

Free and Open-Source Nature of OpenVAS

OpenVAS is a free and open-source software that can be downloaded and used without any licensing fees. This makes it an ideal choice for organizations that want to scan their systems but have a limited budget.

Because it is open-source, it can be customized to suit individual needs and requirements.

Using Fail2Ban to Secure Linux Servers

Fail2Ban is a software that adds an extra layer of security to Linux servers by monitoring logs for suspicious activity and automatically banning abusive IP addresses. When a user or IP address attempts to log in to the server with invalid credentials, Fail2Ban automatically creates firewall rules that block access from that IP address.

By using Fail2Ban in conjunction with OpenVAS, you can add an extra layer of security to your Linux server. OpenVAS can be used to scan for vulnerabilities on your server, while Fail2Ban can be used to block access attempts from malicious actors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, OpenVAS is a powerful vulnerability assessment scanner that can be used to scan Linux servers for vulnerabilities. It has a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of scanning and reporting.

Being a free and open-source software, it is accessible to organizations of all sizes. Besides, using it in conjunction with Fail2Ban enhances its security capabilities on Linux servers, creating an overall positive impact on server security.

In this article, we discussed the importance of scanning Linux servers for security issues and provided an overview of OpenVAS, a powerful vulnerability assessment scanner that can detect, assess, and report on potential threats. We also discussed how to install OpenVAS on Linux systems, user management, launching and stopping OpenVAS, scanning for vulnerabilities, and viewing results and reports.

Additionally, we highlighted the benefits of OpenVAS’s user-friendly interface, open-source nature, and use in conjunction with Fail2Ban to secure Linux servers. In conclusion, implementing OpenVAS as a part of a security strategy for any Linux server can enhance the system’s protection against malicious actors and ensure the server’s sustainability.

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