Acunetix and Netsparker are web application security products by Invicti.
Until 2018, the Acunetix vulnerability scanner and Netsparker web application security tool were developed and sold by separate specialized cybersecurity companies. After the merger in 2018 under the common Invicti umbrella, the products retained their original engines and technologies. However, the teams behind both products now work together to share their expertise and develop leading-edge functionality. As a result, both products grow much faster together than they used to grow separately and both benefit from the knowledge and experience of twice as many experts as any other web application security scanner on the market.
More than just web vulnerability scannersBoth web vulnerability scanners evolved to become fully-fledged DAST/IAST (dynamic application security testing / interactive application security testing) solutions. When choosing between these web application vulnerability scanners, it’s not a question of whether one web application scanning product is better in vulnerability detection, e.g. finding SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS), or other OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities. It’s a question of how well the product meets the specific requirements of the security team and development team, depending primarily on the business size and organization.
Acunetix and Netsparker – similarities
- Acunetix and Netsparker both have leading-edge vulnerability scanning engines. The enterprise-focused Netsparker Enterprise uses the Netsparker web application security engine developed especially for enterprise needs. The SMB/SME-focused Acunetix Premium uses the Acunetix vulnerability scanning technology developed for smaller business needs.
- Both security solutions cover an extensive range of web application security vulnerabilities with no significant differences in the scope of major vulnerabilities covered. Both are capable of finding out-of-band vulnerabilities as well as various web server misconfigurations.
- Both security testing tools provide leading-edge vulnerability management and vulnerability assessment functionalities. Both work with a myriad of external tools to allow you to easily integrate with your current environment – no matter if it’s simple or complex. Both support extensive automation and offer full-scope RESTful APIs. Both can scan not just web applications but APIs and web services.
- Several technologies that used to be available in one tool only are now available in both products. For example, the unique AcuSensor IAST engine has been the basis for the development of the Netsparker Shark IAST engine. The unique Netsparker Proof-based Scanning has been the inspiration for the Acunetix proof of exploit technology.
Acunetix and Netsparker – differences
- Since Acunetix Premium was developed for businesses that have yet to become enterprises, its focus is on covering more bases. Therefore, Acunetix offers some unique technologies and functionalities that would otherwise require you to purchase separate tools. This includes integration with antivirus tools (Microsoft Defender and ClamAV), as well as integration with a leading-edge open-source network scanner (OpenVAS). Acunetix Premium is also available on-premises for Windows users and not just as a SaaS product.
- Acunetix also has a much gentler learning curve. The Acunetix user interface is perceived as one of the easiest to use in the industry and Invicti strives to make it even easier in time. This allows security teams or even IT administrators and generic IT personnel to be able to get the most out of the tool without having to spend a lot of time and effort on configuration and the understanding of its intricacies. In most cases, you can start an Acunetix scan in less than 5 minutes and get immediately actionable scan results in a very short time to fix your source code and prevent data breaches.
- While Acunetix provides many integration capabilities (Jira, Jenkins, several web application firewalls), the scope is not as extensive as with Invicti enterprise products. On the other hand, Netsparker Enterprise is meant to become part of major enterprise installations, which often include other security tools. Therefore, its focus is less on being quick and easy and more on working in every environment. Netsparker offers many more out-of-the-box integrations. Its Proof-based Scanning technology is aimed to enable enterprises to scale by knowing exactly which vulnerabilities are real and which ones could potentially be false positives. All in all, Netsparker focuses on prioritized, large-scale remediation.
Which application security product should you choose?
The good news when choosing Acunetix or Netsparker is that if your company needs change and the other product fits them better, you can adjust your installation to your needs and it’s much easier than, for example, migrating from Burp Suite to WebInspect or from AppScan to Qualys.
The bad news is that it’s a difficult choice because both products are just as good and go head-to-head for the title of the best web application security solution on the market.
We utilize Acunetix to more thoroughly assess internet-facing websites and servers. Acunetix helps us identify vulnerabilities in conjunction with other vulnerability scanning applications. Acunetix has been a more reliable application when discovering / determining different types of malicious code injection vulnerabilities (SQL, HTML, CGI, etc).
Frequently asked questions
When choosing between Acunetix and Netsparker, the important thing is to choose the product that is a better fit for your organization and needs. There are no absolute advantages of one product over the other – they are simply designed to be most efficient in different environments.
Some Acunetix features are unique and designed to help small and medium-sized businesses. For example, the Acunetix engine is designed to crawl web applications in a way that delivers the most results early during the scan (SmartScan). Acunetix is also available on more platforms: not just in the cloud and on Windows but also on Linux and macOS.
Acunetix provides proof that a vulnerability exists. However, we do not call it proof-based scanning – it is a name used by Netsparker only. In the Acunetix interface, proof of vulnerability is labeled as Proof of Exploit. Note that both products provide this proof in an absolutely safe way.
The core Acunetix solution is Acunetix Premium, which is designed for small and medium-sized companies. However, there are two other solutions available. Acunetix Standard is the entry-level solution for the smallest businesses and Acunetix 360 is an offering for large organizations with a focus on integration.