Rapid7 Adds Continuous Discovery for VMs, New Risk Model in Nexpose 5

In the latest version of the Nexpose security framework, Rapid7 added continuous discovery to allow organizations to keep track of all VMs, regardless of state or IP address.

To help organizations secure their virtualized environments, Rapid7 has updated its security framework to include virtual machine scanning and automated scanning.

Nexpose 5 scans both physical and virtual environments to help identify and mitigate potential security risks, Rapid7 said Sept. 20. It also includes malware intelligence to identify vulnerabilities.

As organizations shift applications to virtualized infrastructures, it becomes more important to protect virtual applications, Rapid7 said.

New vulnerabilities and threats against management consoles and servers, virtual machines and hypervisors have increased demand in security for the virtual environment, according to Gartner. More than 80 percent of enterprises now have a virtualization program or project, the analyst firm said. However, the number of annually disclosed virtualization vulnerabilities has increased by more than 300 between 2005 and 2009 and the severity has increased, Gartner said.

"There is no silver bullet for addressing the issue of security, so it is essential that organizations are armed with real security risk intelligence and innovative solutions to identify, understand, prioritize and address the specific threats and risks facing them every day," said Mike Tuchen, president and CEO of Rapid7.

Nexpose 5 comes with vScan, which supports continuous discovery of virtual machines. Customers are demanding a way to inventory all their virtual machines at any point in time, Richard Li, senior director of product management at Rapid7, told eWEEK. Virtual machines can be powered on or off and move around the virtualized environment, which makes it difficult to keep track of assets, according to Li. Nexpose knows at any given moment what a customer has running and ensures that all machines are included in vulnerability scanning, prioritization and remediation.

"If you don't know what you have, you can't assess it," Li said.

Continuous discovery becomes even more important outside of the organization. Delivering security by scanning IP ranges is "essentially flawed," especially in dynamic environments such as the public cloud, according to Li. Customers don't own the IP address in the public cloud, so products relying on IP addresses wind up scanning someone else's virtual machine or not finding a machine at all, leaving the original system unprotected.

Nexpose uses virtualization management metadata to find and track assets in the environment, giving administrators an up-to-date and accurate view of the risks within their infrastructure, Rapid7 said. This capability is initially available only for VMware environments, according to Li.

Some customers have successfully used Rapid7 APIs to support other Amazon EC2 and other infrastructures, but VMware "has been by far and away the primary request," Li said. Support for other environments is expected in the future but Li did not provide any details.

The amount of risk information available in Nexpose 5 has been expanded, combining Exploit Exposure, which maps identified vulnerabilities to known exploits, with Malware Exposure, which looks at malware kits, according to Li. Administrators can proactively identify which vulnerabilities represent the greatest risk to the organization and prioritize for remediation.

Automating the scans allows administrators to spend more time on other tasks, such as analyzing breach paths or building strong security processes and incident response, Li said.

According to the Verizon Breach Report, 49 percent of data breaches in 2010 involved either off-the-shelf or targeted malware. The vast majority of the off-the-shelf malware used in data breaches exploit 13 vulnerabilities, such as PDF vulnerabilities, according to Dan Guido, a security researcher at ISEC Partners.

With Nexpose 5.0, organizations are able to verify that their controls are effective against the threats that they care about, Guido told eWEEK. "The new vulnerability rankings help organizations identify which vulnerabilities are going to sink their ship based on the realities observed in attacks in the wild," Guido said.

Called Rapid7 Real Risk, the new risk model is enabled by default for new users while existing users must opt in, Li said.