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The Complete Guide to Web Vulnerability Scanners in 2023

Web applications have become prone to a growing number of cyber threats in recent years. According to research from Acunetix, web attacks increased by over 200% in 2019 compared to the previous year. At the same time, the average number of vulnerabilities per website stands at around 25.

This highlights the importance for website owners to identify and remediate vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them. Web vulnerability scanners provide an automated way to continuously test sites for security flaws.

This comprehensive guide will cover:

  • What are web application vulnerabilities
  • Top 10 web vulnerability scanners
  • Key factors in choosing a scanner
  • Why continuous scanning is essential
  • Best practices for implementation

What Are Web Application Vulnerabilities?

Web application vulnerabilities refer to weaknesses or misconfigurations in websites and web apps that can be exploited by hackers to access sensitive data, take over user accounts, or compromise the site.

Some of the most common web vulnerability types include:

SQL Injection (SQLi): Exploiting gaps in input validation of web forms to access the database layer of an application. This can allow hackers to steal data or execute malicious SQL commands.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Injecting client-side scripts into web pages to bypass access controls. Attackers can steal session cookies, redirect users to phishing sites, or perform other malicious actions.

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF): Forcing authorized users to execute unwanted actions in web applications by exploiting the trust relationship between the user and application.

Broken Authentication: Flaws that enable attackers to compromise user passwords, session tokens/cookies, or implement account takeovers.

Sensitive Data Exposure: Unprotected handling of sensitive data like financial information or personal user details. Can lead to fraud, identity theft and compliance violations.

This covers some of the OWASP Top 10 most critical web application security risks. Other common vulnerabilities include distributed denial of service (DDoS), insecure direct object references (IDOR), server-side request forgery (SSRF), and more.

The outcomes can range from minor nuisance to full infrastructure compromise and data breaches. Regular scanning is key to finding and patching these risks early.

Top 10 Web Vulnerability Scanners of 2023

1. Acunetix

Acunetix offers an on-premises desktop scanner as well as a cloud-based scanning platform. Key capabilities include:

  • Scans for 3000+ vulnerabilities based on OWASP guidelines
  • Crawls through site maps and sitemaps for comprehensive coverage
  • Automated and scheduled scanning options
  • Prioritized action plans and reports
  • Specialized scans for WordPress, Magento, Drupal and other CMSs
  • Integrates findings with bug trackers and IDEs
  • Affordable pricing starts under $500/year

Best For: SMBs and digital agencies managing multiple websites.

2. Netsparker

Netsparker is an enterprise-grade web application security scanner trusted by Fortune 500 companies.

  • 4000+ vulnerability checks covering the OWASP Top 10
  • Confirmed vulnerability identification to eliminate false positives
  • Powerful Proof-Based ScanningTM technology
  • Flexible integration options via API
  • Integrates with CI/CD pipelines and dev ops tools
  • Ideal for large, complex web applications and sites
  • Enterprise pricing available upon request

Best For: Large corporations and complex web apps requiring robust scanning capabilities.

3. WebInspect

WebInspect by MicroFocus Fortify offers robust dynamic, static, and interactive application security testing.

  • In-depth dynamic analysis covers over 4000 known vulnerabilities
  • Static analysis identifies flaws in source code
  • Covers the latest vulnerabilities like Log4J
  • Ideal for dev sec ops teams with CI/CD integration
  • Generates compliance reports (HIPAA, GDPR, etc.)
  • On-premise installation provides enhanced customization
  • Enterprise-level pricing starts around $15,000/year

Best For: Heavily regulated organizations like healthcare and financial services.

4. IBM AppScan

IBM Application Security on Cloud combines dynamic scanning with static and interactive analysis.

  • Identifies 4000+ vulnerability types
  • Integrates with IBM Cloud and CI/CD pipelines
  • Interactive analysis through manual testing
  • Ideal for complex applications and APIs
  • Customized enterprise packages available
  • Packages start around $30,000/year

Best For: Large enterprises leveraging IBM Cloud and tools.

5. Burp Suite

Burp Suite takes a three-pronged approach to web security testing:

  • Automated and manual testing uncovers app risks
  • Powerful web vulnerability scanner
  • Comprehensive set of analysis tools for pentesting web apps
  • Specialized add-ons available
  • On-premise installation offers extensive customization
  • Free and premium paid versions available
  • Pricing starts at $399/year

Best For: Penetration testers and security engineers.

6. Qualys Web Application Scanning

Qualys WAS enables end-to-end scanning of web apps with capabilities including:

  • Dynamic and interactive application security testing
  • Prioritized findings by severity level
  • Automated scanning and scheduling
  • Ideal for integration in CI/CD pipelines
  • Customized enterprise packages available
  • Packages start around $15,000/year

Best For: Mid-size to large companies wanting robust qualys integration.

7. Rapid7 InsightAppSec

Part of the Insight cloud-based security platform, Rapid7 AppSec key features:

  • Combines DAST scanning with IAST and RASP security
  • Covers the OWASP Top 10 and additional threats
  • Integrates findings into existing workflows
  • Ideal for modern devops-focused teams
  • Packages start around $15,000/year

Best For: Forward-thinking IT organizations with mature devops practices.

8. ImmuniWeb

ImmuniWeb Application Security Testing by High-Tech Bridge offers:

  • AI-powered web vulnerability scanner
  • One-click setup and automated scanning
  • Covers OWASP Top 10 and other critical risks
    -Specialized checks for CMS platforms
  • Integrates with Jira, Slack, Azure DevOps
  • Free plan for small sites + paid options
  • Packages start at $468/year

Best For: SMBs and developers needing easy-to-use DAST testing.

9. Detectify

Detectify is a cloud-based vulnerability scanner designed for SMBs/SMEs.

  • Scans reveal the OWASP Top 10 and 500+ other vulnerabilities
  • Scheduled and on-demand options
  • Integration with Slack, Jira, Trello
  • Specialized WordPress and other CMS scans
  • Intuitive dashboard to track status
  • 14-day free trial
  • Packages start at $468/year

Best For: Small to mid-sized companies wanting an easy-to-use SaaS scanner.

10. Intruder

Intruder helps developers build and maintain secure web applications through DAST scanning.

  • Scans reveal critical risks like SQLi, XSS, code injection
  • Integrates findings into workflows via Jira, Slack and IDEs
  • Specialized scans for various frameworks
  • 30-day free trial
  • Packages start around $29/month

Best For: Development teams in startup/growth companies.

How to Select the Ideal Web Vulnerability Scanner

With so many web vulnerability scanners to choose from, it can get overwhelming for website owners. Here are key factors to consider when picking the right solution:

Website Scale and Complexity

If your website receives minimal traffic and has basic functionality, a scanner designed for SMBs like Detectify or ImmuniWeb would suffice.

For large enterprises with heavy traffic and complex apps, robust scanners like IBM AppScan, WebInspect or Netsparker are better suited.

Budget

Scanner pricing can range from free for basic tools to over $100k annually for enterprise-grade scanners. Set realistic budget expectations before you start evaluating.

Integration Needs

Consider what other systems, like service desks, IDEs, CI/CD pipelines, etc. need to integrate with scanner findings. API capabilities become important here.

Scan Type Requirements

Some scanners focus only on dynamic analysis while others combine DAST, SAST, IAST testing. Know what depth of scanning your apps need.

Ease of Use

If your team has limited security expertise, tools like Detectify with intuitive interfaces may work best. For advanced security engineers, Burp Suite offers extensive customization.

Reporting

Compare report formats, dashboards, analytics capabilities and overall visibility each scanner provides into findings and security posture.

By carefully weighing factors like these, you can determine the best vulnerability scanning solution for your website‘s specific needs and budget.

Why Continuous Website Scanning is Crucial

With website hacks on the rise, regularly scanning apps for the OWASP Top 10 and other critical risks is no longer optional – it‘s imperative.

Consider that:

  • Websites have an average of over 20 vulnerabilities (Acunetix) – continuous scanning helps reveal them before hackers exploit them

  • The average website hack impacts 5,200 records containing sensitive customer or patient data (IBM)

  • Top vulnerabilities like SQLi and XSS have increased by an average of 196% (Positive Technologies)

  • Over 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses (Verizon) with understaffed security teams

Clearly, every website faces substantial threats regardless of size or resources. The costs of cleaning up after a breach can easily run into millions of dollars when factoring in legal damages, fines and lost business.

Regular scanning is vital because:

  • It uncovers the latest threats like Log4J that may impact websites
  • New vulnerabilities constantly emerge and require ongoing checks
  • It helps prioritize patching based on severity ratings
  • Scanning reminds developers to incorporate security in workflows
  • It demonstrates due diligence for compliance requirements

Therefore continuous, scheduled vulnerability testing needs to become a standard part of application security hygiene.

Implementing a Web Vulnerability Scanning Program

Once you have selected a scanning solution, follow these best practices when rolling it out:

Start with Less Critical Systems

Test the scanner first on dev/QA/staging environments before moving to production sites. Let teams get familiar with features, workflows and reporting.

Schedule Multiple Scans

Set up weekly or monthly recurring scans to reveal the latest threats across the entire portfolio.

Integrate with Issue Tracking

Link scanner findings with service desks like Jira so that risks can be assigned, tracked and resolved.

Include Scanning in SDLC

Add scanning checkpoints within existing agile workflows and CI/CD pipelines to catch issues early.

Review New Risks Regularly

Continually monitor dashboard and reports for new threats identified across the portfolio.

Educate Teams

Train developers and IT staff on interpreting scanner findings and hardening practices to mitigate risks proactively.

From SQL injection and cross-site scripting to insecure coding practices, web vulnerabilities open substantial risks for online businesses. Catching these early is critical before hackers exploit them in damaging data breaches.

By implementing a continuous web vulnerability scanning program powered by one of these top scanners, companies can cost-effectively uncover the latest threats. Paired with proper patching and developer education, scanners enable websites to find flaws faster and prevent crippling attacks.

Gone are the days when testing for vulnerabilities once a year sufficed. The rapidly evolving cyber risk landscape demands that scanning be an integral component of application security today.