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Nessus vulnerability scanner: Beginner’s guide

Hello aspiring ethical hackers. In this blogpost, you will learn about Nessus vulnerability scanner. Nessus is an open-source network vulnerability scanner that uses Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) architecture. It is widely used for vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

Nessus server can be installed on Unix, Linux and FreeBSD whereas Nessus client is available for Unix and Windows based operating systems. For this tutorial, we will be installing Nessus on Kali Linux. Nessus can be downloaded from here. It can also be downloaded using curl as shown below (version may change).

Once the latest version of Nessus is downloaded, it can be installed as shown below.

Once the installation is finished, enable nessus as shown below.

Then start nessus as shown below.

Nessus runs on port 8834 by default. It can be viewed in browser.

Click on “Accept the risk and continue”.

Click on “Continue”. Select the type of Nessus install you want. Since we are using a Free version of Nessus for this tutorial we select “Register for Nessus Essentials”. Click on “continue”.

To run Nessus Essentials, you need an activation code. Get the activation code by entering the following details.

You need a user account to login into Nessus. Create an account and most importantly remember the user account information.

Then, Nessus will download all the required plugins. This may take some time (a bit long time sometimes).

Once all the plugins are finished downloading, you should see this.

The installation is finished. Now, it’s time to start scanning with Nessus. Click on “New scan”. A new popup opens. Assign a target.

Click on “Run scan”.

The scan will start and take some time to finish. For this tutorial, we are using “Metasploitable 2” as target. See how to install Metasploitable 2 in VirtualBox.

The vulnerabilities are classified into five categories by Nessus. They are Critical, High, Medium, Low and Information. You can view detailed information about the detected vulnerabilities by clicking on them.

All the scans you perform are located in “My scans” section.

Nessus allows different types of scans. All the scans that can be performed using Nessus can be viewed from “All scans” section.

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How to Install Nessus in Kali linux

Nessus is a vulnerability scanner. My first disappointment  with Kali is that it excluded nessus from its vulnerability scanning tools. However it can be installed. Let us see how to install Nessus in Kali Linux. This guide works for all versions of Kali Linux. First download the nessus Debian package from the website ( here ). Go to the directory into which the package has been downloaded. It should normally be in the Downloads directory in root directory.  Open a terminal, navigate to the “Downloads” folder and type “ls“. You can see the debian package of Nessus. Then type the command “dpkg -i  package name” as shown below.

Then type command “service nessusd start” to start the service.

install nessus in kali

Open a browser and type “https://kali:8834/” to see the web interface of nessus. You will see the below warning that the connection is untrusted.  Click on “I understand the risks” option.

You will get a popup to confirm the security exception. Click on that option.

Then you will get a welcome screen of nessus as shown below. Click on “Continue”.

Its time to create our initial account. Type the username and password you want to set up for the account. Click on Continue.

Its time to enter the activation code for Nessus. You can get the activation code from here. After entering activation code, click on Continue.

After activation is completed, it will download the nessus packages required. It may take a bit long time.

Then we need to wait some more time while the program initializes.

After the initialization is over, you will see the Nessus scan page as below.

Congrats, you have successfully installed Nessus in Kali Linux.

That is how you install nessus in kali linux.