OpenVAS vs Nessus – A Detailed Comparison 2022

Hey folks, I hope you are doing great today. In this article, we are going to do a detailed comparison of OpenVAS vs Nessus. When it comes to vulnerability scanning, there are two main players in the game – Nessus and OpenVAS. Both products have their pros and cons, and both are backed by large security firms (Tenable and Greenbone Networks, respectively). 

While there are many security vulnerability scanners available to businesses, it’s easy to get lost in them all. Two of those you will hear a lot about are OpenVAS and Nessus, but which is better for your business? To help you with that decision, we have put together an easy-to-read guide for how these two security scanners compare.

However, neither product is perfect; each has its unique features that make them both stand out in the crowd of vulnerability scanning tools on the market today. In this article, we’ll go over the main differences between Nessus and OpenVAS so you can make an informed decision about which tool will work best for your needs. Read on below for everything you need to know about OpenVAS and Nessus.

What are Vulnerability Scanners?

A vulnerability scanner is a program designed to test your network’s current level of security. Vulnerability scanners look for any areas that are open or susceptible to attack and allow you to address any potential problems.

Vulnerability scanners take a holistic approach to IT security. After configuring a vulnerability scanner, it will run through your network and attempt to identify potential security flaws. The idea is that you’ll find out sooner if someone is trying to attack your system rather than later when they succeed.

Vulnerability scanners are often paired with intrusion detection systems so that alerts can be sent when there’s an issue detected. Two of the most popular and well-known vulnerability scanners are OpenVAS and Nessus.

A lot of people wonder how they compare or which one they should choose between these two options. Let’s break them down so you can make an informed decision about which (if either) might work for you!

The Differences Between OpenVAS and Nessus

Both OpenVAS and Nessus are vulnerability assessment tools used by network administrators to find security flaws in their networks. They do many of the same things, like scan ports, provide reports on vulnerabilities, etc. But some key differences between them determine which tool is better for a particular job.

The similarities end there, however, as each tool has its unique strengths and weaknesses. With a clear understanding of how each one works, you can choose between them according to your needs. Although both of these are vulnerabilities scanners have been around for several years, there are still many people out there that are confused about their differences. 

In truth, OpenVAS and Nessus do share a few similarities but what separates them from one another is that they operate in different ways. Below we will take a look at some of those ways and hopefully, it will give you an idea as to which option might be better for your particular situation.

Features of Nessus Vulnerability Scanner

It’s free for home use; it’s easy to use, and it integrates with existing networks. It has a powerful plug-in architecture, allowing users to scan using third-party vulnerability databases and software. Since its acquisition by Tenable, it has integrated vulnerability management into one single product for automated scanning, remediation, and configuration management.

openvas vs nessus
OpenVAS vs Nessus

Once an organization installs Nessus Vulnerability Scanner, everything else—including new vulnerabilities and how to fix them—can be managed through Tenable Security Center Vulnerability Management.

Whether you have a small or large IT team or are a one-person shop, you can scan your entire network in less than 30 minutes with Nessus Vulnerability Scanner. The primary feature of Nessus is, of course, its ability to scan for vulnerabilities.

It uses a client-server architecture so that you can centralize all your scans to a single point and easily run vulnerability scans when needed.

However, there are other features it offers which may not be as obvious but are still very useful: Automatic detection: This tool automatically detects hosts on your network as well as their services to prevent service disruption during a scan.

It also shows plugin information, missing patches, and misconfigurations in an easy-to-read report format. Installation package dependencies: The package manager detects what software is installed on your machine and installs missing dependencies before installing Nessus for you.

Features of OpenVAS Vulnerability Scanner

OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanner, which means it’s free for anyone to use. One of its biggest advantages is that it’s cross-platform. It also integrates with many other popular security platforms like OSSEC and Snort.

And because it’s open-source, there are plenty of plugins available on Launchpad (its main source repository) that allows you to customize your scan to fit your needs.

openvas vs nessus
OpenVAS vs Nessus

Openvas is a powerful and popular vulnerability scanner with a very active development community. Many plugins are available for Openvas, providing users with greater versatility in their security assessments.

Additionally, Openvas’ vendor-agnostic nature means that it doesn’t depend on any single piece of hardware or software; instead, it can be used to scan multiple operating systems and hardware devices for vulnerabilities.

OpenVAS is a powerful tool that allows users to scan for vulnerabilities on multiple hosts at once. It’s more than just a scanner, too: It also does packet crafting and host profiling. The biggest advantage of OpenVAS is its active development community, which keeps the software up-to-date with all of today’s most important open source vulnerability assessment tools.

Many other applications make use of OpenVAS under-the-hood, making it a great way to get familiar with commonly used technologies like OpenSSL, Snort, and libnet. One common shortcoming of OpenVAS is its user interface, which can seem rather dated when compared to enterprise-level scanners like QualysGuard or Kaspersky Labs.

OpenVAS vs Nessus Feature Comparison

Vulnerability ScanningIt supports over 26,000 CVE’s.It supports over 50,000 CVE’s.
Web InterfaceAvailableAvailable
ReportingIt export reports in HTML, PDF, CSV Format.It export reports in HTML, CSV, XML Format.
Scan TemplatesNot AvailableMore than 450 scanning configuration templates are available.
Plugin SupportAvailableAvailable, more than 130,000 plugins are supported.

OpenVAS vs Nessus Face to Face

User Interface

OpenVAS and Nessus both are web-based GUI vulnerability scanners. When it comes to penetration testing or vulnerability assessment it doesn’t matter that the tool is a command-line or GUI the only thing that matters is the result. 

In terms of the user interface, Nessus is a better choice. It’s simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Nessus and OpenVAS both come with web-based graphical user interfaces. 

It’s usually up to personal preference which one you prefer, but there is a clear difference between the modern interface that Nessus provides, versus the more dated look of OpenVAS – they both provide great scanning experiences.

But functionally speaking, Nessus’ production value is head-and-shoulders above what’s offered by OpenVAS; it has charts for easy understanding of vulnerabilities according to severity (Openvas does not). 

However, if you’re old school like me and want to use command-line operations instead then neither are off limits!

Vulnerability Scanning Capabilities

When we look for a vulnerability scanner, accuracy and depth of the scan are two things that we need to take into account. These can be identified in how well they minimize false positives (attribute flagging up irrelevant information) and negatives (missing vulnerabilities), as well as detecting legitimate weaknesses with no unnecessary flagging or messages. 

Among these scanners, Nessus outperforms OpenVAS when it comes to metrics: 50,000 covered CVEs compared with 26,000 covered by our competitor’s toolset! This proves that Nessus is more accurate than its counterpart due to six-sigma being put into play – this means there is less of a chance of missing out on any vulnerabilities while scanning or incorrectly tagging anything up at all. 

The downside? False positives have been an issue plaguing OpenVAS for some time now according to many user reports from across the community. In summary: if you want accurate data from your scans without any extra hassle involved then go ahead and pick Nessus over OpenVas… but beware of false positive flags!


Nessus is simpler to install than OpenVAS. To register with the program, you need an activation code from the company and then it can be downloaded via a web browser on Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. Once installed, Nessus provides a license agreement for its use which also needs to be accepted before continuing through your web browser. 

When it comes to metrics- detection rates of vulnerabilities- Nessus has an edge over OpenVAS because it supports 50k more CVEs at 26k while maintaining lower false positives rates compared with any competitor in the industry.


OpenVAS and Nessus both have their reporting features. OpenVAS can produce reports in HTML, PDF, and CSV formats. In comparison to Nessus’s report-creating function which only allows the user to export in HTML or XML format, this is a plus point for OpenVAS when it comes to production value. Otherwise, when comparing these two products from a fundamental standpoint about how strong they are with regards to reporting functions, there isn’t much of a difference between them here either way – both seem equally good at what they do.

Scanning Templates

Nessus has a huge advantage over OpenVAS in its use of templates. Nessus comes with about 450 configuration templates that assist the user to monitor their network, and these range from Advanced Scanning, Basic Network Scanning, Host Discovery, Malware Scans, and more. The abundance of presets means the user can choose what they need without having to set up everything themselves – it’s easier!


OpenVAS offers some useful external tools that users can incorporate, but Nessus is more advanced with 130,000 plugins. These plugins are written in the Nexus Attack Scripting Language (NASL) and contain information on vulnerabilities, remediation actions, and testing algorithms. This provides a user greater control over their experience than OpenVAS does.


OpenVAS has a Security Response Team that can help you respond to security issues with the software or any associated modules. There is also a community forum where you can get help from the community.

When it comes to Nessus they have a wide range of customer support options which include 24×7 email, phone, and chat support to help us with any problem. But if you purchased its paid package then you will get advance support with them. 


One reason that OpenVAS is so much more affordable than Nessus is that it’s free. This makes it ideal for small enterprises which can’t afford to pay for more expensive alternatives like Nessus. While Nessus is free for non-commercial uses, companies need to pay for it if they want the best option available.

Nessus Professional Pricing Chart

OpenVAS vs Nessus

Pricing may vary as shown in the above screenshot. So it is better to check the current Nessus Professional Pricing by Clicking on this link:


At first glance, it seems that OpenVAS and Nessus are fairly comparable. Both are excellent vulnerability scanners that share a lot of core functionality. When it comes to which one is better, however, you have to take into account your organization’s needs and requirements. Whether or not you’re in a position to use OpenVAS will depend on how much you rely on some of its integrations—like Active Directory or Kerberos for authentication—or whether or not you can count on your IT department for support. Likewise, if you need more than ten concurrent scans at any given time, then don’t even consider using OpenVAS unless they make changes to their service offerings soon.

Personal Opinion On OpenVAS vs Nessus

Both OpenVAS and Nessus are good vulnerability scanners that do their job, but I recommend going with OpenVAS. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and find it more intuitive, easier to use, faster, and better suited for penetration tests. While you can use both on Windows or Linux machines as well as virtual machines, my personal preference is Ubuntu (you could run both on one system). The only downside to OpenVAS is that it has fewer plugins than Nessus. But if you’re only using it occasionally—say once every three months—the difference in functionality isn’t a big deal. If you plan on doing frequent scans, then go with Nessus because of its plugin selection; otherwise, open up your System and install OpenVAS!

Also Read: NMAP VS NESSUS – A Detailed Comparison 2022


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: