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Rolling Review: N-Stalker Seeks, Doesn't Find

The Upshot

Web application scanners in this Rolling Review must not only find traditional vulnerabilities, like XSS and SQL injection flaws, but also handle Ajax applications, in which part of the app is running locally in the browser.
Complex Ajax apps represent a new twist for these products, and we don't recommend purchasing a scanner that isn't able to handle Web 2.0 environments, given that so much future development is moving in that direction. And, Web application scanners should be just one element in a comprehensive, layered program—educating developers and integrating security reviews into the development lifecycle are just as crucial.
N-Stalker's scanner failed to deliver on basic Web application security detection, let alone finding Ajax flaws. It does have the potential to be a useful scanner for known vulnerabilities once some quirks and bugs are cleaned up, but it simply can't compare to the first two products in this Rolling Review.

N-Stalker's Web Application Security Scanner 2006 Enterprise Edition.
Eight IP N-Stalker Enterprise Edition is $2,899 with 20% maintenance per year

The range of products calling themselves "security scanners" is so broad that the designation is flirting with irrelevance. You have your vulnerability assessment software, which uses large databases of known vulnerabilities. Then there are penetration testing applications that focus on fewer vulnerabilities, but include the ability to exploit flaws instead of just identify them. More relevant to this Rolling Review are Web application scanners, which attempt to uncover problems in newly developed software—before they get exploited.

As an added twist in this review, we've focused our testing on Ajax applications. We've already evaluated Hewlett-Packard's WebInspect (formerly from SPI Dynamics) and Cenzic's Hailstorm. Both are Web application vulnerability scanners aimed primarily at crawling new Web apps looking for exploitable flaws. Sure, they're able to detect some common misconfigurations within Web servers and languages, even pick up a few stock bugs in known programs. But that's not their primary focus.

Unfortunately, the newest entry in this Rolling Review, N-Stalker's Web Application Security Scanner 2006 Enterprise Edition (say that five times fast), doesn't measure up to the previously tested scanners, despite its hefty built-in database of vulnerabilities in known Web servers and Web applications.

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