Nessus vs OpenVAS: Which One is Best For You?

Last updated on March 22nd, 2022 at 10:23 pm

These are among the best vulnerability scanners available. Organizations of all sizes and shapes use these two vendors to find security risks.

The comparison provides an introduction to both programs and a description of the tasks each tool can perform and a brief overview of the key functions, the pricing and a head-to-head comparison.

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Before we examine the tools in themselves, we’ll look at what vulnerability scanners can do.

What Is Vulnerability Scanners?

What exactly does Nessus and OpenVAS achieve? Vulnerability scanners are tools that administrators of networks employ to look for weaknesses in networks.

A vulnerability scanner will highlight weaknesses and configurations that put networks vulnerable to cyberattacks or data breaches.

Many businesses use vulnerability scanning to find holes in their defences to network and repair the entry points before an attacker can exploit the weaknesses.

The need to scan for vulnerabilities is vital for companies since it’s the only method to know the present weaknesses. Continuously testing for vulnerabilities allows you to find security flaws and makes your network secure constantly.

Each of Nessus and OpenVAS both provides an easy solution to scan for vulnerabilities. It is essential to be aware that the performance of vulnerability scanning software is different from one vendor to another.

Some options have a better track record than others when it comes to deterring known and undiscovered threats.

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Nessus Product Highlights


Renaud Daraison invented Nessus (named The Nessus Project initially) in 1998. It was initially an open-source security remote scanner. Nessus was changed to closed- source licence by Tenable Network Security in 2005

At present, Nessus is a vulnerability scanning platform used by more than 27,000 companies that detect more than 47,000 vulnerabilities.

A lot of companies utilize Nessus due to its most accurate false-positive rate available on the market. It can detect legitimate threats and not generate unnecessary notifications for a human user to deal with.

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Important Information

  • A low false-negative rate within the market with an accuracy of six-sigma.

  • Offers users over 164,000 plugins.

  • Updates the plugins in 24 hours following detecting an issue.

  • More than 66,000 Common Vulnerabilities as well as Exposures (CVE)

OpenVAS Products Highlights


It  is an open-source vulnerability scanner which was initially conceived as a spin-off from Nessus and was later referred to by the name of GNessUs.

It was not until 2006 that GNessUs evolved into the OpenVAS tool that companies use in the present.

In 2017 Greenbone has changed its OpenVAS structure into Greenbone Vulnerability Management. They also transform the OpenVAS Scanner into an application.

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The platform’s integration with Greenbone Community Feed makes it an attractive low-cost option for companies. It can run more than 50 000 vulnerability tests, offering security against a wide range of dangers.

Important Information

  • Open-source.

  • The website is developed and maintained by Greenbone Networks.

  • Utilizes the Greenbone Community Feed to run 50,000 tests of vulnerability.

  • Supports more than 26,000 CVE’s

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Vulnerability scanning

Supports over 66,000 CVE’s

Supports over 26,000 CVE’s

Web interface




Reports in HTML, CSV, XML

Reports in HTML, PDF, CSV

Scan Templates

Over 450 scan configuration templates



Yes / 164,000 different plugins


Nessus vs OpenVAS Head-to-Head

User Interface

Each of Nessus and OpenVAS both has web-based GUIs. Although GUI preferences are typically dependent on personal preferences, there’s a noticeable distinction between the modern user interface provided by Nessus instead of the more traditional appearance of OpenVAS.

Both offer an excellent vulnerability scanning experience; however, the value of Nessus is far ahead of OpenVAS.

However, OpenVAS GUI does provide the dashboard view outfitter with straightforward graphs that can help you understand the vulnerability in the network according to their severity.

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The two programs OpenVAS and Nessus come with commands available on the command line for those who prefer the traditional approach.

Security Scanning Capabilities

The precision and the depth of vulnerability scanning abilities are among the most crucial factors to keep an eye out for when searching for scanners.

The best vulnerability scanners reduce negatives or false positives and identify legitimate weaknesses without generating flags that reveal unnecessary information.

Regarding those indicators Nessus provides a greater range of security vulnerabilities than OpenVAS as it supports over 66.000 CVEs, compared to 26,000 CVEs that OpenVAS covers.

Nessus is superior because it detects more security issues in comparison to OpenVAS. Nessus can also be capable of providing the advantage to keep an lower false-positive rate.

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Six-sigma accuracy decreases the chance of not detecting vulnerabilities or improperly detection any issue.

False positives are something OpenVAS has had to contend with since the community of users has complained of a variety of issues while conducting scans.

Based on the wide CVE coverage as well as the high rate of false-positives, Nessus provide a more complete scanning experience.


Nessus is simple to configure than OpenVAS.. The application is available to download via the company official website . It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

It is possible to sign up for an activation number, and the company will provide you with the code to sign up for the software. Once you have downloaded it, you can accept the agreement and install it using your internet browser.

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The installation process in OpenVAS is a bit more complex. To install OpeNVAS, you have to create it from the source code. If you’re comfortable creating software using source code, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, Nessus is the best in terms of ease of use.


Reporting is yet another area in which Nessus offers a good experience. Nessus will automatically send reports following the completion of a scan and provide regular reports and updates.

The user may design customize reports and save it to CSV, XML and HTML formats.

OpenVAS also offers its reporting function that lets you make vulnerability assessment reports and blend multiple scans in one report using visual elements like pie charts and tables. OpenVAS can export reports as HTMLPDF as well as CSV.

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Nessus reports could have the advantage in terms of output quality. However, OpenVAS reports are fundamentally superior.

Scan Templates

One area where Nessus has an advantage over OpenVAS are in templates. Nessus includes more than 450 configuration templates that help users to keep track of their network.

Templates comprise Offline Conflict Audit, Basic Network Scan, Host Discovery, advanced Scan, Malware Scan, WannaCry Ransomware and many more.

The variety of templates makes it easy for users to set up their monitoring environment without creating everything from scratch.

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While OpenVAS includes a few external tools, users can use, Nessus has over 164,000 plugins. Plugins are created with Nexus Attack Scripting Language (NASL) and include information about the vulnerability, remediation actions and test algorithms.

The vast array of Nessus plugins provides users with greater freedom in their experience of monitoring than OpenVAS.

OS Support

Regarding OS compatibility, Nessus supports a broader range of operating platforms than OpenVAS. Nessus is compatible with LinuxFreeBSD, Unix, Windows and macOS.

In contrast, OpenVAS works on Unix and Linux systems and is available as a default feature with Kali.


The quality of support offered by different providers differs significantly. OpenVAS includes a Security Response Team that can assist with security issues with the software or the associated modules.

There’s also a community forum that allows you to receive advice from the user community.

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Nessus also provides a wide variety of support options, including phone, email portal, chat, and technical support that can assist the user in any way (providing that you choose a package that includes high-end support).

The wide range of Nessus support options provide the business an pro in this manner.

Platform Support

The support for platforms offered through Nessus is also different from OpenVAS. Nessus can support various operating systems, including Windows Server 2008, 2012 R2, 2008 R2 2012 R2, 2016, Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Debian/Kali Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Centos, Oracle Linux, Free BSD, Fedora, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and Ubuntu.

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OpenVAS has Kali Linux operating system and is compatible with many Linux OS’s, but it doesn’t offer support for Windows users. The user must also create binaries using the source code or seek help by contacting the user community.


OpenVAS is open-source software. OpenVAS is much less expensive than Nessus since it’s free, which makes it more appropriate for smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to invest in more costly alternatives such as Nessus.

Nessus is available for free in homes; however, companies require a fee. We’ve listed the price options below:



1 year


1 year with Advanced support*


2 year


2 year + Advanced support*


3 years


3 years + Advanced support*


Advanced support offers enterprises 24/7/365 telephone, email as well as community and chat assistance.

While the cost remains affordable for a security tool, the reasonable price of OpenVAS is an option that appeals to SMEs with a smaller budget for the software but still requires an efficient vulnerability scanning tool.

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It’s important to note an open-source version of OpenVAS known as”the Greenbone Source Edition (GSE); however, we’re not highlighting this in the comparison due to its simplicity.

Nessus and OpenVAS the Verdict

Based on the background of Nessus and the development of OpenVAS, It’s not a surprise that these two scanners are often compared to one another.

Although each has its distinct merits, Nessus stands out as the better overall, especially for companies who can afford the price.

A modern user interface, numerous templates, plugins and a variety of platform support offer a superior user experience similar to OpenVAS. One of the primary advantages OpenVAS offers over Nessus is its cost.

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Therefore, OpenVAS is likely to be the better choice for companies that require an effective vulnerability scanner but don’t have the funds or desire to purchase an expensive option.

In most enterprises with the money, Nessus is the natural option for the most efficient scan experience for vulnerability.

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