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12 Best Network Security Audit Tools + Key Features


Fortified network security requires getting a variety of systems and platforms to work together. Security teams need to scan for potential threats, look for new vulnerabilities in the network, and install software patches in order to keep these different parts working smoothly.

While small organizations with dedicated cybersecurity teams may process these tasks manually at first, growing audit demands will quickly outpace their capabilities. Growing organizations and enterprises rely on automation to improve IT security auditing and make sure their tech stack is optimized to keep hackers out.

Network Security Audit Tools Explained

Network Security Audit Tools provide at-a-glance visibility into network security operations and infrastructure. They scan network security tools throughout the environment and alert administrators of situations that require their attention.

These situations can be anything from emerging threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, or newly released patches for important applications. Your network security audit tools provide a centralized solution for managing the effectiveness of your entire security tech stack – including cloud-based software solutions and on-premises tools alike.

With such a wide set of responsibilities, it should come as no surprise that many audit tools differ widely from one another. Some are designed for easy patch management while others may focus on intrusion detection or sensitive data exfiltration.

Major platforms and operating systems may even include their own built-in audit tools. Microsoft Windows has an audit tool that focuses exclusively on Active Directory. However, enterprise security teams don’t want to clutter their processes with overlapping tools and interfaces – they want to consolidate their auditing tools onto platforms that allow for easy management and oversight.

Types of Network Security Audit Tools

Firewall Auditing Tools

Firewall security rules provide clear instructions to firewalls on what kind of traffic is permitted to pass through. Firewalls can only inspect connections they are configured to detect.

These rules are not static, however. Since the cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly changing, firewall administrators must regularly update their policies to accommodate new types of threats.

At the same time, threat actors who infiltrate firewall management solutions can gain a critical advantage over their targets. They can change the organization’s security policies to ignore whatever malicious traffic they are planning on using to compromise the network. If these changes go unnoticed, even the best security technologies won’t be able to detect or respond to the threat.

Security teams must regularly evaluate their firewall security policies to make sure they are optimized for the organization’s current risk profile. This means assessing the organization’s firewall rules and determining whether it is meeting its security needs. The auditing process may reveal overlapping rules, unexpected configuration changes, or other issues.

Vulnerability Scanners

Vulnerability scanners are automated tools that create an inventory of all IT assets in the organization and scan those assets for weak points that attackers may exploit. They also gather operational details of those assets and use that information to create a comprehensive map of the network and its security risk profile.

Even a small organization may have thousands of assets. Hardware desktop workstations, laptop computers, servers, physical firewalls, and printers all require vulnerability scanning. 

Software assets like applications, containers, virtual machines, and host-based firewalls must also be scanned. Large enterprises need scanning solutions capable of handling enormous workloads rapidly.

These tools provide security teams with three key pieces of information:

  • Weaknesses that hackers know how to exploit. Vulnerability scanners work based on known threats that attackers have exploited in the past. They show security teams exactly where hackers could strike, and how.
  • The degree of risk associated with each weakness. Since scanners have comprehensive information about every asset in the network, they can also predict the damage that might stem from an attack. This allows security teams to focus on high-priority risks first.
  • Recommendations on how to address each weakness. The best vulnerability scanners provide detailed reports with in-depth information on how to mitigate potential threats. This gives security personnel step-by-step information on how to improve the organization’s security posture.

Penetration Testing Tools

Penetration testing allows organizations to find out how resilient their assets and processes might be in the face of an active cyberattack. Penetration testers use the same tools and techniques hackers use to exploit their victims, showing organizations whether their security policies actually work.

Traditionally, penetration testing is carried out by two teams of cybersecurity professionals. The “red team” attempts to infiltrate the network and access sensitive data while the “blue team” takes on defense.

Cybersecurity professionals should know how to use the penetration testing tools employed by hackers and red team operatives. Most of these tools have legitimate uses, and are a fixture of many IT professionals’ toolkit. Some examples include:

  • Port scanners. These identify open ports on a particular system. This can help users identify the operating system and find out what applications are running on the network.
  • Vulnerability scanners. These search for known vulnerabilities in applications, operating systems, and servers. Vulnerability reports help penetration testers identify the most reliable entry point into a protected network.
  • Network analyzers. Also called network sniffers, these tools monitor the data traveling through the network. They can provide penetration testers with information about who is communicating over the network, and what protocols and ports they are using.

These tools help security professionals run security audits by providing in-depth data on how specific attack attempts might play out. Additional tools like web proxies and password crackers can also play a role in penetration testing, providing insight into the organization’s resilience against known threats.

Key Functionalities of Network Security Audit Software

Comprehensive network security audit solutions should include the following features:

  • Real-time Vulnerability Assessment
  • Network Discovery and Assessment
  • Network Scanning for Devices and IP Addresses
  • Identifying Network Vulnerabilities
  • Detecting Misconfigurations and Weaknesses
  • Risk Management
  • Customizable Firewall Audit Templates
  • Endpoint Security Auditing
  • Assessing Endpoint Security Posture
  • User Account Permissions and Data Security
  • Identifying Malware and Security Threats
  • Compliance Auditing
  • Generating Compliance Audit Reports
  • Compliance Standards and Regulations
    1. PCI DSS
    2. HIPAA
    3. GDPR
    4. NIST
  • Integration and Automation with IT Infrastructure
  • Notifications and Remediation
  • User Interface and Ease of Use
  • Operating System and Configuration Auditing
  • Auditing Windows and Linux Systems
  • User Permissions and Access Control

Top 12 Network Security Audit Tools

1. AlgoSec

AlgoSec simplifies firewall audits and allows organizations to continuously monitor their security posture against known threats and risks. It automatically identifies compliance gaps and other issues that can get in the way of optimal security performance, providing security teams with a single, consolidated view into their network security risk profile.

2. Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks offers two types of network security audit solutions to its customers:

  • The Prevention Posture Assessment is a questionnaire that helps Palo Alto customers identify security risks and close security gaps. The process is guided by a Palo Alto Networks sales engineer, who reviews your answers and identifies the areas of greatest risk within your organization.
  • The Best Practice Assessment Tool is an automated solution for evaluating next-generation firewall rules according to Palo Alto Networks established best practices. It inspects and validates firewall rules and tells users how to improve their policies.

3. Check Point

Check Point Software provides customers with a tool that monitors security security infrastructure and automates configuration optimization. It allows administrators to monitor policy changes in real-time and translate complex regulatory requirements into actionable practices. This reduces the risk of human error while allowing large enterprises to demonstrate compliance easily.

The company also provides a variety of audits and assessments to its customers. These range from free remote self-test services to expert-led security assessments.

4. ManageEngine

ManageEngine provides users with a network configuration manager with built-in reporting capabilities and automation. It assesses the network for assets and delivers detailed reports on bandwidth consumption, users and access levels, security configurations, and more.

ManageEngine is designed to reduce the need for manual documentation, allowing administrators to make changes to their networks without having to painstakingly consult technical manuals first. Administrators can improve the decision-making process by scheduling ManageEngine reports at regular intervals and acting on its suggestions.

5. Tufin

Tufin provides organizations with continuous compliance and audit tools designed for hybrid networks. It supports a wide range of compliance regulations, and can be customized for organization-specific use cases. Security administrators use Tufin to gain end-to-end visibility into their IT infrastructure and automate policy management.

Tufin offers multiple network security audit tool tiers, starting from a simple centralized policy management tool to an enterprise-wide zero-touch automation platform.

6. SolarWinds

SolarWinds is a popular tool for tracking configuration changes and generating compliance reports. It allows IT administrators to centralize device tracking and usage reviews across the network. Administrators can monitor configurations, make changes, and load backups from the SolarWinds dashboard.

As a network security audit tool, SolarWinds highlights inconsistent configuration changes and non-compliant devices it finds on the network. This allows security professionals to quickly identify problems that need immediate attention.

7. FireMon

FireMon Security Manager is a consolidated rule management solution for firewalls and cloud security groups. It is designed to simplify the process of managing complex rules on growing enterprise networks. Cutting down on misconfigurations mitigates some of the risks associated with data breaches and compliance violations.

FireMon provides users with solutions to reduce risk, manage change, and enforce compliance. It features a real-time inventory of network assets and the rules that apply to them.

8. Nessus

Tenable is renowned for the capabilities of its Nessus vulnerability scanning tool. It provides in-depth insights into network weaknesses and offers remediation guidance. Nessus is widely used by organizations to identify and address vulnerabilities in their systems and networks.

Nessus provides security teams with unlimited IT vulnerability assessments, as well as configuration and compliance audits. It generates custom reports and can scan cloud infrastructure for vulnerabilities in real-time.

9. Wireshark

Wireshark is a powerful network protocol analyzer. It allows you to capture and inspect data packets, making it invaluable for diagnosing network issues. It does not offer advanced automation or other features, however. WireShark is designed to give security professionals insight into specific issues that may impact traffic flows on networks.

Wireshark is an open-source tool that is highly regarded throughout the security industry. It is one of the first industry-specific tools most cybersecurity professionals start using when obtaining certification.

10. Nmap (Network Mapper)

Nmap is another open-source tool used for network discovery and security auditing. It excels in mapping network topology and identifying open ports. Like WireShark, it’s a widespread tool often encountered in cybersecurity certification courses.

Nmap is known for its flexibility and is a favorite among network administrators and security professionals. It does not offer advanced automation on its own, but it can be automated using additional modules.

11. OpenVAS (Open Vulnerability Assessment System)

OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanner known for its comprehensive security assessments. It is part of a wider framework called Greenbone Vulnerability Management, which includes a selection of auditing tools offered under GPL licensing. That means anyone can access, use, and customize the tool.

OpenVAS is well-suited to organizations that want to customize their vulnerability scanning assessments. It is particularly well-suited to environments that require integration with other security tools.

12. SkyBox Security

Skybox helps organizations strengthen their security policies and reduce their exposure to risk. It features cloud-enabled security posture management and support for a wide range of third-party integrations.

Skybox allows security teams to accomplish complex and time-consuming cybersecurity initiatives faster and with greater success. It does this by supporting security policy lifecycle management, providing audit and compliance automation, and identifying vulnerabilities in real-time.

Steps to Conduct a Network Security Audit

  1. Define the Scope:
    • Start by defining the scope of your audit. You’ll need to determine which parts of your network and systems will be audited. Consider the goals and objectives of the audit, such as identifying vulnerabilities, ensuring compliance, or assessing overall security posture.
  2. Gather Information:
    • Collect all relevant information about your network, including network diagrams, asset inventories, and existing security policies and procedures. This information will serve as a baseline for your audit. The more comprehensive this information is, the more accurate your audit results can be.
  3. Identify Assets:
    • List all the assets on your network, including servers, routers, switches, firewalls, and endpoints. Ensure that you have a complete inventory of all devices and their configurations. If this information is not accurate, the audit may overlook important gaps in your security posture.
  4. Assess Vulnerabilities:
    • Use network vulnerability scanning tools to identify vulnerabilities in your network. Vulnerability scanners like Nessus or OpenVAS can help pinpoint weaknesses in software, configurations, or missing patches. This process may take a long time if it’s not supported by automation.
  5. Penetration Testing:
    • Conduct penetration testing to simulate cyberattacks and assess how well your network defenses hold up. Penetration testing tools like Metasploit or Burp Suite can help identify potential security gaps. Automation can help here, too – but the best penetration testing services emulate the way hackers work in the real world.
  6. Review Policies and Procedures:
    • Evaluate the results of your vulnerability and penetration testing initiatives. Review your existing security policies and procedures to ensure they align with best practices and compliance requirements. Make necessary updates or improvements based on audit findings.
  7. Log Analysis:
    • Analyze network logs to detect any suspicious or unauthorized activities. Log analysis tools like Splunk or ELK Stack can help by automating the process of converting log data into meaningful insights. Organizations equipped with SIEM platforms can analyze logs in near real-time and continuously monitor their networks for signs of unauthorized behavior.
  8. Review Access Controls:
    • Ensure the organization’s access control policies are optimal. Review user permissions and authentication methods to prevent unauthorized access to critical resources. Look for policies and rules that drag down production by locking legitimate users out of files and folders they need to access.
  9. Firewall and Router Configuration Review:
    • Examine firewall and router configurations to verify that they are correctly implemented and that access rules are up to date. Ensure that only necessary ports are open, and that the organization’s firewalls are configured to protect those ports. Prevent hackers from using port scanners or other tools to conduct reconnaissance.
  10. Patch Management:
    • Check for missing patches and updates on all network devices and systems. Regularly update and patch software to address known vulnerabilities. Review recently patched systems to make sure they are still compatible with the tools and technologies they integrate with.
  11. Incident Response Plan:
    • Review and update your incident response plan. Ensure the organization is prepared to respond effectively to security incidents, and can rely on up-to-date playbooks in the event of a breach. Compare incident response plans with the latest vulnerability scanning data and emerging threat intelligence information.
  12. Documentation and Reporting:
    • Document all audit findings, vulnerabilities, and recommended remediation steps. Generate data visualizations that guide executives and other stakeholders through the security audit process and explain its results. Create a comprehensive report that includes an executive summary, technical details, and prioritized action items.
  13. Remediation:
    • Implement the necessary changes and remediation measures to address the identified vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Deploy limited security resources effectively, prioritizing fixes based on their severity. Avoid unnecessary downtime when reconfiguring security tools and mitigating risk.
  14. Follow-Up Audits:
    • Schedule regular follow-up audits to ensure that the identified vulnerabilities have been addressed and that security measures are continuously improved. Compare the performance metric data gathered through multiple audits and look for patterns emerging over time.
  15. Training and Awareness:
    • Provide training and awareness programs for employees to enhance their understanding of security best practices and their role in maintaining network security. Keep employees well-informed about the latest threats and vulnerabilities they must look out for.


What are some general best practices for network security auditing? 

Network security audits should take a close look at how the organization handles network configuration management over time. Instead of focusing only on how the organization’s current security controls are performing, analysts should look for patterns that predict how the organization will perform when new threats emerge in the near future. This might mean implementing real-time monitoring and measuring how long it takes for obsolete rules to get replaced.

What is the ideal frequency for conducting network security audits? 

Network security audits should be conducted at least annually, with more frequent audits recommended for organizations with high-security requirements. Automated policy management platforms like AlgoSec can help organizations audit their security controls continuously.

Are network security audit tools effective against zero-day vulnerabilities? 

Network security audit tools may not detect zero-day vulnerabilities immediately. However, they can still contribute by identifying other weaknesses that could be exploited in tandem with a zero-day vulnerability. They also provide information on how long it takes the organization to recognize new vulnerabilities once they are discovered.

What should I look for when choosing a network security audit tool for my organization? 

Consider factors like the tool’s compatibility with your network infrastructure, reporting capabilities, support and updates, and its track record in identifying vulnerabilities relevant to your industry. Large enterprises highly value scalable tools that support automation.

Can network security audit tools help with regulatory compliance? 

Yes, many audit tools offer compliance reporting features, helping organizations adhere to various industry and government regulations. Without an automated network security audit tool in place, many organizations would be unable to consistently demonstrate compliance.

How long does it take to conduct a typical network security audit? 

The duration of an audit varies depending on the size and complexity of the network. A thorough audit can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Continuous auditing eliminates the need to disrupt daily operations when conducting audits, allowing security teams to constantly improve performance.

What are the most common mistakes organizations make during network security audits? 

Common mistakes include neglecting to update audit tools regularly, failing to prioritize identified vulnerabilities, and not involving key stakeholders in the audit process. Overlooking critical assets like third-party user accounts can also lead to inaccurate audit results.

What are some important capabilities needed for a Cloud-Based Security Audit?

Cloud-based security audits can quickly generate valuable results by scanning the organization’s cloud-hosted IT assets for vulnerabilities and compliance violations. However, cloud-based audit software must be able to recognize and integrate third-party SaaS vendors and their infrastructure. Third-party tools and platforms can present serious security risks, and must be carefully inspected during the audit process.

What is the role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in Network Security Auditing?

MSPs can use audits to demonstrate the value of their services and show customers where improvement is needed. Since this improvement often involves the customer drawing additional resources from the MSP, comprehensive audits can improve the profitability of managed service contracts and deepen the connection between MSPs and their customers.


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