Network auditing refers to systematically and thoroughly assessing a computer’s or network system’s security. This process can involve analyzing the hardware, software, and protocols used for communication across a network to identify potential vulnerabilities that cyberattackers could exploit.
Also see: Understanding the Zero Trust Approach to Network Security
Top Network Auditing Software
With its ability to identify and address potential security threats before they can do damage, network auditing is an essential practice for organizations that rely on computer networks for critical business operations. Thankfully there are tools that can help automate this process, making it more efficient and effective.
- SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager
- Netwrix Auditor
- Nagios XI
- Choosing a Network Auditing Tool
- Features of Network Auditing Software
- Benefits of Network Auditing Tools
- Importance of Network Auditing
Also see: Top Managed Service Providers
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager
SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is a sophisticated network auditing software that streamlines network change and configuration management to help IT pros quickly take control of network configurations.
This reliable solution combines network configuration monitoring and network change and configuration management in an easy-to-use, unified interface, so IT teams can automate network administration and reduce downtime associated with manual processes. With SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager, IT professionals can improve network security and react faster to any changes while keeping their network secure.
- Network Compliance: Network Configuration Manager can automate the collection and archiving of configuration information for network devices, so organizations can quickly scan networks to get a full inventory of configuration settings and to ensure they comply with regulatory standards.
- Network Automation: The tool provides a centralized interface for creating and managing network changes, allowing admins to quickly make configuration changes across multiple devices. This simplifies the process of making network updates, reducing the potential for human errors while increasing productivity.
- Configuration Backup: Network Configuration Manager offers automated configuration backups, allowing users to always maintain the most up-to-date snapshots of settings and history records for different devices. This helps prevent the loss or damage of critical configurations during network maintenance, outages, or other events.
- Vulnerability Assessment: SolarWinds also provides real-time vulnerability assessments of a network, so network admins can quickly identify and address any potential weak points.
- Network Insight for Cisco and Palo Alto: This feature allows network admins to find security threats in the network infrastructure and better understand what is happening across all devices.
- Easy to set up and use
- Cloud environment and on-premises troubleshooting
- In-depth monitoring of networking configuration errors
- Real-time metric reporting from application programming interface (API)-enabled devices
- Alerts are configured based on network audits
- Built-in audit checks for HIPPA, NIST, PCI, and SOX
Pricing starts at $1,738 with Subscription and Perpetual Licensing options available alongside a free 30-day trial.
Netwrix Auditor is network auditing software that provides powerful visibility and control of hybrid IT infrastructure. It offers a platform for user behavior analysis and risk mitigation, enabling network admins to gain control over changes, configurations, and access to protect data regardless of its location.
With insight into how users interact with sensitive data, Netwrix Auditor provides security intelligence to identify potential security weak spots and any anomalies in user behavior while staying on top of threat patterns that could lead to real damage. It covers network devices and applications such as Active Directory, Exchange, Office 365, Windows File Servers, and more. Plus, it even comes with RESTful API support and user activity video recording for an all-in-one view of on-premises or cloud environments.
- Risk Assessment: Netwrix Auditor offers a built-in risk assessment tool that enables network admins to identify network configurations and vulnerabilities and the potential impact they could have on the organization.
- Protect Sensitive Data Regardless Location: Network administrators can use Netwrix Auditor to monitor user activity across on-premises and cloud environments, continuously monitoring permissions changes and preventing any accidental or malicious data leakage.
- Change, Access, and Configuration Reports: Network managers can get real-time reports detailing who changed what, when they did it, and where the change occurred. This helps to streamline process workflows by eliminating the need to manually review network logs, while exposing any suspicious activity.
- Streamlined User Access Reviews: Network admins can use Netwrix Auditor to instantly identify users who have excessive privileges or who no longer need their existing permissions, ensuring system configurations are always up-to-date and secure.
- Alerts on Threat Patterns: Users can stay on top of potential network issues by receiving real-time alerts about any suspicious activity, such as users logging in from an unusual location or a data breach attempt.
- Google-Like Search: Users can easily find the information they need using Netwrix Auditor’s integrated search tool that works like Google, returning relevant results as they type. This saves time when troubleshooting and fixes errors quickly.
- Compliance Audits: Network admins can use Netwrix Auditor to achieve and maintain compliance with industry standards like HIPAA, SOX, NIST, and PCI cost-effectively.
- Simple to install and configure
- Eliminates permissive rules and inactive users
- Unified reporting dashboard
- Allocates every network and admin and user a risk score
- Google-like search feature
The vendor offers a free 20-day trial but does not publish any other pricing information.
Intruder is the network auditing software of choice for sophisticated network administrators and security professionals. This dynamic cloud-based vulnerability scanner allows cybersecurity professionals to stay one step ahead of potential hackers by proactively scanning for network threats and providing comprehensive threat assessment in real time.
With Intruder’s easy-to-understand system, it’s never been simpler to perform effective network vulnerability management and benefit from the peace of mind that your network remains secure.
- Enterprise-Grade Network Security Scanner: Intruder is a sophisticated network auditing software that combines next-generation malware protection with cutting-edge vulnerability scanning to provide comprehensive enterprise-level threat assessment.
- Vulnerability Assessments for Edge Networks: Network administrators can use Intruder to quickly scan their internal and external networks, detecting vulnerabilities across cloud, virtual, and on-premises environments.
- Continuous Security Monitoring: Intruder uses advanced, multi-stage scanning techniques to provide continuous security monitoring and proactive threat assessment.
- Smart Recon: With Intruder’s intelligent querying system and robust knowledge base, cybersecurity professionals can find the specific vulnerabilities they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.
- Simple and intuitive user interface
- Small footprint on internal devices
- Advanced threat assessment capabilities
- Real-time notifications and alerts
Pricing is based on the number of targets, such as a device, website, hostname, or IP address, that need scanning. The higher the number of targets the cheaper the per unit cost. Intruder also offers a free 14-day trial.
Also see: Top Enterprise Networking Companies
ManageEngine is a leading provider of network auditing software for organizations of all sizes. With its intuitive interface and powerful monitoring tools, ManageEngine is the ideal solution for network administrators who want to gain complete visibility over their networks while minimizing the risks associated with potential security breaches.
- Automated Configuration Backup: ManageEngine’s network auditing software offers automated configuration backup, which allows network admins to quickly and easily create a central repository of all network configurations.
- Real-Time Configuration Change Tracking: Real-time configuration change tracking allows network admins to monitor changes in the network’s IP address range and quickly identify any suspicious activity.
- Remote Firmware Upgrade/OS Image Transfer: ManageEngine provides advanced remote firmware upgrade and operating system (OS) image transfer capabilities, enabling network admins to easily update all devices on the network.
- Compliance Monitoring: Network auditing software is essential for maintaining compliance with industry standards, and ManageEngine offers in-depth compliance monitoring tools to help achieve this goal.
- Network Configuration Analysis: Network configuration analysis allows cybersecurity professionals to quickly identify any unauthorized or conflicting network configurations, minimizing risks and ensuring optimal performance.
- Startup-Running Conflict Report: ManageEngine’s network auditing software also offers advanced startup-running conflict reporting, giving administrators complete visibility into potential conflicts that could disrupt network operations.
- Prebuilt scripts for security patches
- Powerful network security features
- Robust database backup capabilities
- Intuitive interface
The enterprise version is available on a perpetual or subscription licensing model. There is a free trial, but the vendor hasn’t published any other pricing information.
Atera is an all-in-one network auditing software designed to meet the needs of both managed service providers (MSPs) and IT departments. It provides a unified platform for remote IT monitoring and management, equipped with professional services automation (PSA), automated patching, IT automation, ticketing, help desk resources, and more.
These comprehensive tools give MSPs and IT departments an edge over network performance, network security, and network compliance. Atera’s network security audits ensure compliance policies remain intact across the entire network.
With Atera, network admins can track every device in real time and stay informed at all times.
- Remote Monitoring and Management: Atera’s network auditing software offers powerful remote monitoring and management tools that allow network admins to gain a complete 360-degree view of the network, minimizing the risks associated with potential security breaches.
- Professional Services Automation: With Atera’s comprehensive PSA integration, administrators can streamline IT operations and deliver better customer service by automating recurring processes such as invoicing, booking, and ticketing.
- Remote Access: With Atera’s remote access tools, cybersecurity pros can securely manage network devices from anywhere in the world.
- Patch Management: Network security is essential for reducing the risk of data breaches, and Atera’s automated patch management tools help ensure all devices are always up-to-date and secure.
- Help Desk: With Atera’s help desk resources, network admins can provide instant support to users and resolve issues quickly, minimizing downtime and improving overall productivity.
- Network Discovery: Network discovery tools from Atera enable network admins to automatically detect all devices on the network, so they can keep track of all devices at all times.
- Integrations: Atera offers a wide range of integrations to help users get the most out of their network auditing software. Some popular integrations include ThreatLocker, AnyDesk, Malwarebytes, Bitdefender, and Domotz.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard interface
- Easy to set up and schedule automations
- Monitor multiple devices simultaneously
- Frequent product updates
- Timely alerts and notifications
- Remote monitoring and customer support
- Detailed audit reports
- Available as an Android and iPhone app
Atera has three pricing tiers, Pro, Growth, and Power, priced respectively at $99, $129, and $199 per month per user. Each plan offers a free 30-day trial.
Nmap is network auditing software that allows network administrators to discover network hosts and network services via a port and network scanner and audit the security of networks both large and small. Developed as an open-source program, it provides up-to-date support for a range of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Nmap is available as a command-line interface or as a Zenmap graphical user interface (GUI). It also comes with comprehensive guides and documentation that can be accessed with ease.
- Host Discovery: Nmap’s host discovery features allow network admins to scan their network to find all devices connected to it, allowing them to stay informed and keep track of every device.
- Port Scanning: Port scanning capabilities let cybersecurity pros quickly and accurately identify which ports are open on a target host or network, giving them a clear view of the organization’s security posture.
- Version Detection: Network auditing software that includes version detection capabilities allows cybersecurity teams to scan for vulnerabilities on servers and network devices, identifying which services are running and their versions.
- TCP/IP Stack Fingerprinting: Nmap’s TCP/IP stack fingerprinting features help administrators quickly identify the OS behind a network device or host by analyzing network traffic, making it a powerful and effective tool for network auditing.
- Scriptable Interaction With the Target: With Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) and the Lua programming language, network admins can easily perform complex tasks such as automating routine network administration tasks or scanning multiple hosts at once.
- A good track record in network auditing spanning 25 years
- Scans open TCP and UDP ports
- Configures and customizes port ranges, IP addresses, and networking protocols to scan
Nmap is free to use for network auditing but has license restrictions when redistributed and used within proprietary hardware and software products.
Nagios XI is a powerful, flexible, and advanced enterprise server, network monitoring, and auditing platform that helps administrators constantly monitor all the devices on the organization’s network. Using Nagios XI, network admins can easily set up and run scans on the network to find all mission-critical infrastructure components connected to it, including devices, operating systems, applications, services, network protocols, systems metrics, and network infrastructure.
- Nagios Core 4 Monitoring Engine: With the latest version of Nagios Core, network auditors can access efficient and scalable monitoring using the latest technology.
- Updated Web Interface: Network administrators have access to a completely updated and modern web interface providing a high-level overview of devices, hosts, and services.
- Advanced Graphs and More: Advanced graphs and other visualizations help administrators quickly identify the key metrics that matter to network operations and make it easier to spot performance issues.
- Capacity Planning: Capacity planning features allow network administrators to plan for future growth by monitoring current usage patterns, so they know exactly when they need to upgrade their network infrastructure or add more devices.
- Configuration Wizards: This feature makes it easy for network admins to set up and run scans on their networks. Network configurations can easily be modified, optimized, and saved as templates for repeat use.
- Infrastructure Management: Powerful infrastructure management features help network administrators quickly and easily manage their network infrastructure and devices, so they can focus on what’s really important — keeping the network up and running. These features include Autodiscovery, Mass Acknowledgment, Improved Bulk Host Import, Auto Decommissioning, and more.
- Configuration Snapshot: This feature makes it easy for admins to save and re-use their network configurations, so they don’t have to repeat the same tasks over and over again.
- Advanced User Management: With advanced user management features, network admins can easily grant and manage access to different users and roles, so everyone in the organization can access only the information and controls they need. Network security is strengthened with granular permissions and other best practices.
- Intuitive and user-friendly dashboard
- Customizable plug-ins to write and check values
- Fast detection of network issues
- Scalable and robust platform
- Free online demo
Pricing for the Enterprise editions starts at $3,495 per year. The final price depends on the number of nodes and other options.
Also see: 7 Enterprise Networking Challenges
Choosing a Network Auditing Tool
Whether you are a cybersecurity professional or a network administrator, choosing the right network auditing software will help ensure the continued security and performance of your organization’s networks. We recommend the criteria below when evaluating network auditing tools:
Ease of setup and configuration
Companies should look for a network auditing tool that is easy to set up and configure. Network administrators should be able to quickly and easily configure the tool according to their network requirements, without having to rely on external support or specialized IT knowledge.
Network scanning and monitoring capabilities
Network auditing tools should be able to effectively scan and monitor the network. This includes detecting and identifying mission-critical components, such as devices, operating systems, applications, services, network protocols, systems metrics, and network infrastructure.
Device, network, and configuration management
Network auditing tools should provide a comprehensive view of network information and device status. They should also enable network admins to configure and customize network devices, diagnose network issues, and generate reports on the audit findings.
Security and compliance
Network auditing software should offer robust security features, including advanced authentication and access controls. It should also be able to automatically detect known vulnerabilities in network devices and offer continuous compliance monitoring to ensure networks are up-to-date with regulatory requirements.
Also see: Understanding the Zero Trust Approach to Network Security
Features of Network Auditing Software
From the foregoing, we can infer that good network auditing software should have the following features:
- Automatic discovery
- Smart classification and mapping
- In-depth performance monitoring
- Security management
- Intelligent alerting
Benefits of Network Auditing Tools
Network auditing software comes with a host of benefits, key among them being the ability to:
- Simplify and automate network audits
- Reduce human error and enable faster detection of network issues
- Enhance security by implementing best practices in user permissions and access controls
- Facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards
With the right network auditing software, network administrators and cybersecurity professionals alike can rest assured that their organization’s networks are secure and performing at their best.
Importance of Network Auditing
As more and more organizations rely on computer networks for critical business processes, the need to effectively protect those networks becomes increasingly important. Network auditing helps identify and address potential security threats, allowing organizations to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture.
During a network audit, the following are some of the areas examined manually or via automated tools.
Network device inventory
The first step in a network audit is to inventory all of the devices connected to the network, including servers, routers, switches, and firewalls. This helps to understand how the network works and where potential vulnerabilities lie and allows cybersecurity teams to identify which devices need patches or upgrades to improve their security.
Another critical area to examine during a network audit is how much bandwidth each network device, service, or application uses. This helps ensure there is enough capacity to meet current and future needs while also ensuring unauthorized or malicious activities are not using excessive bandwidth.
Users and access levels
To maintain the integrity of your organization’s data, it is crucial to ensure only authorized users have access to certain resources on the network. During a network audit, you can review user accounts and determine whether they should be kept or deleted and which access levels are granted to each user.
Network configurations and firewall rules
Maintaining the network’s security also means ensuring all devices have the appropriate settings and rules in place. For example, a network audit can ensure any firewalls or other devices on the network enforce the proper access controls to prevent unauthorized access.
Network availability and health
Network auditing also involves monitoring the network systems’ overall health and availability to ensure they are performing at optimal levels. This might include running regular checks on devices, services, and applications to identify any issues or outages before they can cause downtime or security issues.