What are the main differences between Nessus and Arcsight?


I would like to understand the basic difference between Nessus and Arcsight. Thanks.

ITCS user
1313 Answers

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Nessus is a remote security scanning tool, which scans a computer and raises an alert if it discovers any vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could use to gain access to any computer you have connected to a network. It also uses the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures architecture for easy cross-linking between compliant security tools. Nessus can be deployed on Cloud, On-premise and stand-alone as in laptop for consulting practice. You can try nessus for 7 days.

While ArcSight is an SIEM. a platform of an integrated set of products for collecting, analyzing, and managing enterprise event information.

I would think their difference lies on how they approach security. Nessus acts as preventive security control in term of identifying vulnerable systems which can exploited maliciously if no actions are done to fix and patch those system with identified vulnerabilities. While arcSight strenght lies on detecting those attacks while on going by correlating different events from different sources like networks packets and log sources from servers and network devices.

For me, SIEM solution is a very indispensable network solution that can really boost your network security stature when deployed and managed properly. But i would put caution when deploying an SIEM solution.

SIEM solution depends on EPS (events per second), and these EPS license are very expensive. If you miscalculated your EPS requirements and deploy the SIEM solution with loower EPS than your network generates, the risks that your SIEM solution may not be able to capture those critical events and correlates those incident properly is high because a lot of those events which are beyond your EPS license will just be dropped by the system.

While nessus will also depend on how many IP or devices you are license to scan. But if you opt to go for unlimited IP or devices I think is not that expensive. Their pro version starts at $2k i am not sure if this is good for unli IP.

author avatar

Nessus is a Vulnerability Scanner (Made by Tenable who also make SIEM Software) Arcsight is a SIEM (Security Incident Event Manager) made by HP.

Nessus is used by security testers to audit a network and will produce a list of known vulnerabilities sorted by risk, such as this is a Windows 2008 server with the following 5 missing patches, or this is a Cisco router with the public snmp community enabled. - It costs about $300 and takes 20 minutes to set up and 30 mins to scan a small network (give or take).

A SEIM like Arcsite is a log collection server on steroids, you configure all your devices to send all their logs to a central host that can then be configured to correlate those logs, for example if an attacker is scanning your website with Nessus, Arcsite would see connections from the firewall, page loads from the webserver logs, and the webserver requesting data from a database.. In theory you could create an automated action to alert your sysadmins, and block the user at the firewall and email his ISP to tell them he was being naughty. - It costs a fortune and takes about 2 years and 10 people to get it up and running, and then it takes another year to train your employees to use it, then the following years are spent replacing them when they use their new found Arcsite skills to get higher paid positions elsewhere.

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Short answer Nessus is a vulnerability scanner, it scans servers/desktops for OS vulnerabilities. ArcSight is a log consolidation, correlation and analysis engine that is basically used to consolidate logs from your Network devices, IDS, IPS, Firewalls and Servers to monitor and detect anomalous traffic and behavior.

author avatar

Nessus is designed to be a vulnerability management tool. It's primary use is to scan systems to detect known vulnerabilities in ports, services and protocols.

Arcsight is and always has been a SIEM. That means that it is designed to collect and analyze logs from systems to look for known and custom developed indicators of actual malware or "anomolous" behavior as defined by the Archsight administrators. Think of it as something that ingests log data from systems and searches for issues.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need additional guidance.

author avatar

Both are important piece of complete security infrastructure solution, but they don't belong to the same product family or type.
Arcsight is the HP solution for SIEM.
Nessus = isTenable Vulnerability scanner (VS).

They are both part of the leaders in their respective area.
So if you forget about vendors and brands, we can simply say that VS helps identify vulnerabilities in network device and servers. it help to get clear idea about the current picture of the vulnerabilities of our assets and and can be integrated with ticketing systems and / or patch management solution to ensure good follow-up.

SIEM is central point for log management , correlation and event management, depending on the deployments , to get the basic events or logs the SIEM relies on different security components including firewalls/VPN, IDS/IPS, UTM, Endpoint protections, LDAP/ directories, routers, switches, other server type like SQL database, .....

VS like Nessus can also feed the SIEM with information related to assets like OS / software components and versions, vulnerabilities, ..... this information help tune the SIEM to deliver more accurate information to SOC analyst who interface differently with it : Dashboard, reporting, ticketing interfaces, SIRT .....

There are huge link fo useful links to get basic understanding of the two products.

Hope this help.



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ArcSight is a log collection and correlation tool set with a monitoring front end, known as a Security Information and Event Management tool. Nessus is a vulnerability scanner, which has the ability to find systems on your network and determine their vulnerability level from informational to critical.

Nessus compliments ArcSight, in that you can take vulnerability data from Nessus and import it into ArcSight. ArcSight can then use that data to provide what is called an asset model - a list of IP addresses, system versions, vulnerabilities, etc. - for increased monitoring capabilities. If I have a system in my asset model that is currently vulnerable to... let's say Heartbleed, and someone attempts to exploit the vulnerability on that system, my IPS will pick up the attack and send the alert info to ArcSight. ArcSight will see that the system is vulnerable to this attack, and if the attack is not blocked it will have a higher criticality.

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This is a very broad question and the differences are huge.
In a nutshell:
- ArcSight (HP) provide a SIEM,
- Tenable Network Security provide a Vulnerability Scanner called Nessus.

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NESSUS is a remote security scanning tool, which scans a computer and raises an alert if it discovers any vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could use to gain access to any computer you have connected to a network.
ArcSight solutions help customers identify and prioritize security threats, organize and track incident response activities, and simplify audit and compliance activities

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What i know Nessus is focus on VA only. Tenable has SIEM solution

Arcsight can do a correlation from log, so it can give you an alert that you need to inspect more detail

look forward more discussion

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ArcSight is an (SIEM) Security Information and Event Management system that analyzes and correlates. It is designed to analyzing large amounts of network data in real time. It uses heuristic analysis to identify patterns of normal and abnormal behavior

Nessus is an open-source network vulnerability scanner it is used the signature to Detect security holes in local or remote hosts, and missing security updates and patches.

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ArcSight is a cyber security company that provides big data security analytics and intelligence software for security information and event management and log management solutions.
ArcSight SIEM solutions help safeguard your business by providing you complete information security across your IT infrastructure.

Nessus is a remote security scanning tool, which scans a computer and raises an alert if it discovers any vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could use to gain access to any computer you have connected to a network.

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You can use Nessus to find machines with vulnerabilities, but I would not categorize it as a SIEM product. Arcsight is a full blown solution which includes a logger and correlation engine.

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Real User

I don't know Nessus, but
Nessus - vulnerability scanner,
ArcSight = SIEM(Security Information Event Management).

ArcSight can collect, analyse and correlate events gathered from different sources(for example nessus).

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