Nessus Configuration: Part One

Nessus Configuration

Advanced settings in the Nessus web GUI.

Nessus Configuration: Proxy and Advanced Settings

The first thing you will see when you access Nessus is the login page. You must first enter the login name and password you created when you set up Nessus. Since Nessus uses a web-based front end, you can access the Nessus server from any computer on the local network that has a web browser, making Nessus configuration much easier. This increases the scalability of Nessus for larger organizations. You can configure scan options and make other changes, all from the web interface.

Once you are logged in, there are several settings you can change. If you click on your username (in this example, “nessusadmin”) on the right side of the page, there is a drop-down menu with several options; select “Settings”. On the left sidebar, there is an option called “Proxy”. If you did not set up a proxy during the setup process and need to do so now (for example, if your organization requires that all web traffic be directed through a corporate proxy), you can input the settings here.

Proxy Setting Options

Option Description
Host The host or IP of the proxy
Port The port of the proxy
Username Optional: if a username is required for proxy usage
Password Optional: If a password is required for proxy usage
User-Agent Optional: If the proxy you are using filters specific HTTP user agents, a custom user-agent string can be supplied
Custom Update Host Optional: This can be used to force Nessus to update plugins from a specific host. For example, if plugins must be updated from a site residing in the U.S., you can specify “plugins-us.nessus.org”

Different Nessus configuration options can be set by clicking on the “Advanced” link in the Settings menu. Each option can be configured by editing the corresponding field and clicking the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen. In addition, the option can be removed completely by clicking on the “X” button.


By default, the Nessus GUI operates on port 8834. To change this port, edit the xmlrpc_listen_port to the desired port. The Nessus server will process the change within a few minutes.

If additional preferences are required, click on the “New Setting” button, input the name and the value, and press “Save”. Once a preference has been updated and saved, Nessus will process the changes within a couple of minutes.

Nessus Configuration

Adding a new user in Nessus.

Nessus Configuration: Adding/Editing Users

During the initial setup, one administrative user is created. Using the credentials specified during the setup, you can log into the Nessus GUI. Once authenticated, click on the “Users” heading at the top. To create a new user, click “New User” on the upper right. This will open a dialog box asking for required details. Input the username and password, verify the password, and determine if the user should have administrator privileges. If a user account needs to be modified, double-click on the user.

You cannot rename a user. If you want to change the name of a user, delete the user and create a new user with the appropriate login name. To remove a user, select the check box next to the account on the list, select “Options” on the upper right, and then click “Delete User” and confirm.

A non-admin user cannot upload plugins to Nessus, cannot restart it remotely, and cannot override the max_hosts/max_checks setting in the configuration section. If the user is intended to be used by SecurityCenter, it must be an admin user. SecurityCenter maintains its own user list and sets permissions for its users.

In the next article, we will cover more Nessus configuration options.

External Links:

Nessus home page on www.tenable.com

Nessus on Wikipedia

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