Greenbone Vulnerability Management (GVM): History and Advantages of the OpenVAS Fork

Network security has become a fundamental requirement for any modern business. Vulnerability scanners are among the most crucial tools in the cybersecurity arsenal, designed to discover and analyze potential weaknesses in a system. One of the most prominent open-source options is the Greenbone Vulnerability Management (GVM), formerly known as Open Vulnerability Assessment System (OpenVAS).

The History of OpenVAS

The OpenVAS project came into existence in 2008 as a fork from the last free version of Nessus, a well-known vulnerability scanner, after it transitioned to a proprietary license model. The decision to change Nessus to a closed-source product left a gap in the open-source world. To fill this gap and promote the open-source ethos, a team led by Tim Brown and Jan-Oliver Wagner at Greenbone Networks decided to create a fork of the Nessus project – and so, OpenVAS was born.

The Evolution of OpenVAS into GVM

OpenVAS started as a simple vulnerability scanner, but over time, it evolved into a comprehensive vulnerability management solution. The project grew to include several services and components, including a manager, a scanner, a database, and user interfaces, expanding its functionality beyond what Nessus initially offered.

As OpenVAS developed and expanded, Greenbone Networks decided in 2019 to rebrand the entire framework to Greenbone Vulnerability Management (GVM), given that the project had evolved into a more comprehensive solution beyond just a vulnerability scanning service. This renaming underscored the project’s broader commitment to providing a complete suite of tools for vulnerability management, integrating multiple components for a full-scope analysis of network vulnerabilities.

The Core Function of GVM

The primary objective of GVM (formerly OpenVAS) is to identify vulnerabilities in networked systems that hackers could potentially exploit. It operates by sending multiple requests to targeted systems and analyzing the responses to identify potential weaknesses.

One of the unique aspects of GVM is its emphasis on comprehensive testing, leveraging over 50,000 Network Vulnerability Tests (NVTs). These tests cover a wide range of software and hardware devices, providing extensive network coverage. The system performs these tests regularly, keeping its vulnerability database up-to-date with the latest discovered vulnerabilities.

Moreover, GVM is characterized by its modular architecture. The main components of the system include GVM-Tools (for administration and management), GSA (Greenbone Security Assistant, a web interface), GVMD (a management daemon), GVMd (the core vulnerability scanner), and GCF (Greenbone Community Feed, which provides the latest NVTs).

Benefits of Using GVM

GVM provides several key advantages that have contributed to its widespread adoption. The main benefits are:

  • Open Source: GVM is free and open-source, allowing users to inspect, modify, and enhance the source code. This fosters a global community of contributors working towards the project’s improvement and innovation.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: With over 50,000 NVTs, GVM can detect a vast range of vulnerabilities in network systems, thereby providing a robust defense against potential threats.
  • Constant Updates: The Greenbone Community Feed regularly updates the scanner’s database with newly discovered vulnerabilities, ensuring the system remains aware of the latest potential threats.
  • Scalability: The modular architecture allows GVM to be scalable and flexible. It can be tailored to scan everything from small networks to large enterprises.
  • Detailed Reporting: GVM provides comprehensive and detailed reports of detected vulnerabilities, including potential impacts and suggested remedies. This enables system administrators to make informed decisions about addressing identified weaknesses.
  • Regulatory Compliance: GVM helps organizations meet certain regulatory compliances by demonstrating an active role in identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities.


The Greenbone Vulnerability Management, starting as the OpenVAS project, has become a central figure in the realm of cybersecurity. Born from a commitment to open-source philosophy, it has grown into a comprehensive vulnerability management solution used worldwide. With its emphasis on comprehensive testing, continuous updates, and detailed reporting, GVM continues to be a vital tool for maintaining network security in an ever-evolving digital landscape. Its trajectory and impact underscore the importance and potential of open-source solutions in the field of cybersecurity.

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