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Vulnerability Scanning Appliance
A vulnerability scanning appliance is a hardware-based scanner that's precision engineered to map systems for vulnerabilities and programming bugs within a network, computer, or application. This specialized IT security tool functions in virtually the same way as the more commonplace and software-based vulnerability scanner, save for the fact that it's a standalone device that comes with the added advantage of being able to accomplish its designated task even if the targeted system or platform has already been compromised (i.e., something that a vulnerability scanning application cannot do).
More often than not, vulnerability scanners—regardless if they're hardware- or software-based—are very limited in their analysis of systems and typically test a series of HTTP requests against previously defined CGI strings. All the same, a scanner utility is supposed to be a simple tool with one easy task to solve; search for vulnerable applications and, if it's so inclined, exploit the vulnerability to actively demonstrate its risk level. However, most scanners are limited by their vulnerability databases; unless a weakness has already been disclosed beforehand by a security expert or hacker, they are unable to check for unknown programming bugs on their own.
At any rate, the security scanning appliance goes about its work via the following steps. The first step involves examining any running programs, operating systems, open ports, and active IP addresses. Afterwards, step two stipulates that the gadget may either move on to the next step if it has found anything or create a report if it has yielded no suspicious activity on your system or network. The third step is the point where the appliance will attempt to determine the patch level of the programs and operating system that your computer has.
Subsequently, step four or the final phase of the scan is the portion where the hardware scanner may try to exploit any existing vulnerability to show whether or not your machine is safe from any actual attacks. Depending on the setting or type of appliance you have, it may simulate a highly realistic system crash or simply not go through the fourth step altogether and just deliver a word of warning to you on its final report. Friendlier scanners usually stop at the second or third step, but they never go outright to the fourth step unless they're programmed to do so.