The Qualys Cloud Platform and its integrated apps can simplify security operations and lower the cost of compliance by delivering critical security intelligence on demand and automating the full spectrum of auditing, compliance and protection for IT systems and web applications. Qualys Scanner Appliance is an option with the Qualys Cloud Platform. With the Qualys Scanner Appliance, you can easily assess internal network devices, systems and web applications.  This post summarize some of my experience with Qualys Guard service from Qualys Scanner Appliance.

PCI DSS v3.0 Scanning Requirements

Quartely External Vulnerabibility scans via ASV:  

Per PCI DSS v3.0 requirement 11.2.2, merchants are required to perform quarterly external vulnerability scans via an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). Every part of cardholder data system components needs to be scanned. Using the PCI module you can meet the external network scans requirement.

Scans of public-facing web applications and review detected vulnerabilities

Per PCI DSS v3.0 requirement 6.6, merchants are required to perform scans of public-facing web
applications and review detected vulnerabilities. Using the PCI module you can meet the web
application scans requirement. Note that web application scanning is available when this option is
turned on for your subscription. Please contact your Account Manager or our Support Team if you
would like to use this option.

Qualys PCI Compliance Scan


1. Define Your In-Scope Assets Using Asset Wizard

Important! The wizard prompts you to confirm scans can be performed without interference. The service provides multiple scanners for external (perimeter) scanning and lists the scanner IP addresses.
Depending on your network, it may be necessary to add the scanner IPs to your list of trusted IPs.

2. Start an External Network Scan

Click Start Scan button
Tip 1 – You may have already run an external PCI network scan using Qualys VM and then shared this scan with the PCI module. In this case you’re ready to run reports and complete certification steps. Jump ahead to the section “Create Network Reports for Certification” later in this document.

Tip 2 – You can schedule the scan to run later or on a regular basis – daily, weekly or monthly. We

recommend you set up a schedule so you’ll receive vulnerability scan results on an ongoing basis.

3. Scan a virtual host or a web application

A virtual host configuration consists of the IP address of the virtual host, the port number to be associated with the hosted domain, and the domain name (FQDN) to be hosted by the IP address. To add virtual host, go to Account > Virtual Host. Click New to add new virtual hosts. When adding multiple virtual hosts, separate each one with a line break.

To add a web application to your account, go to Account > Web Applications and click the New link.

4. View Current Vulnerabilities and Fix, Rescan to Verify Vulnerabilities are Fixed, False Positive Requests

5. Submit Compliance Status

You are ready to create network reports when the Compliance Status shows that the number of hosts in
your account matches the number of hosts that are compliant. 

To create your reports, click Generate (under Actions) and simply follow the steps in the report
generation wizard. Your reports will appear on the submitted reports list.

Next steps:
1) Preview the reports online in PDF format for completeness and accuracy.
2) Request a review from your Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) using the report wizard or from the
submitted reports list. You will receive an email with the review status (approved or rejected).
3) Once approved by the ASV, the report is considered certified and can be submitted to your acquiring
banks for PCI certification


Using ASV Vulnerability Scan for PCI Audits


There is no product solution available on the market today that can be purchased and used to perform accredited PCI vulnerability audits. There are services which can be procured to perform vulnerability audits and some of the technology these services use is available in the form of a product.

For an organization attempting to navigate the requirements of PCI, the differences between buying a service and the product based on that service may not seem great. For example, many scanning services include an appliance which is deployed on a customer’s network which gives the feeling of a product.

If an organization governed by the PCI regulation does buy a product solution to perform PCI scanning, that organization will still be required to procure a 3rd party service to perform certified PCI vulnerability scanning. These services must be acquired from an Approved Scanning Vendor.

The benefit of buying a product that can perform realistic PCI audits is that when your official quarterly PCI scan is performed, you won’t be surprised and you will have had a chance to fix issues before your audit occurs. Also, if your scanning service makes an error or has inaccurate results, being able to compare their results with your own can help expedite any incorrectly reported issues.

Differences between in-house and Remote Scanning

There are also some very stark differences between remote PCI vulnerability assessments and what can be done with an in-house tool.

For example, section 8.5.9 of the PCI Audit Procedures document specifies that user passwords should be changed every 90 days. This sort of setting is something that can be audited with the Nessus Direct Feed and Tenable has even written specific PCI audit polices to look for this setting on UNIX and Windows operating systems. However, section 8.5.9 also gives MSPs some latitude in performing these audits and there are allowances for manual review of polices.

There are many more examples of this sort of discrepancy. Searching for the term “For Service Providers Only” in the audit guidelines will show many examples where a full internal PCI audit can be replaced with manual procedural reviews.

If such a review only occurs manually and quarterly, then when violations are found, fixing them implies not only changing the settings on various servers, but also changing the procedures and policies which allowed these lapses to occur in the first place. Performing in-house automated checks allows for early detection of compliance violations.

Another advantage of in-house scanning is that you may chose to perform a credentialed patch audit with Nessus. Patch audits  are very accurate and work for Windows and UNIX operating systems. If your MSP or ASV is not using credentials to audit your systems, it is possible that their scans may be less accurate than ones with credentials. If this is the case, performing these scans in-house with credentials can help expedite any issues reported by your ASV that are not accurate.

11.2.1 Perform quarterly internal vulnerability scans. Address vulnerabilities and perform rescans to verify all “high risk” vulnerabilities are resolved in accordance with the entity’s vulnerability ranking (per Requirement 6.1). Scans must be performed by qualified personnel.

For internal scans you could use Nessus as long as you have documented procedures and the personnel are “qualified.”

11.2.2 Perform quarterly external vulnerability scans, via an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) approved by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). Perform rescans as needed, until passing scans are achieved.

For external scans, the scanning must be performed by an approved scanning vendor (ASV). You can find the list of ASVs at  Tenable ( Jus like Qualys or other ASVs) certainly do offer ASV scanning as part of their product set, which seems a fairly straightforward statement that you can use Nessus as part of your PCI testing.

Unix/Linux Auth Scan with Sudo and SSH Port change

If a Linux system has a root account require sudo command, here are some settings:
If SSH port changed to different one, as shown below, you will need to add it into scan ports:
Note: If you are using Full TCP port scan, you will need need to add additional port. 

Cloud Agent – Continuous scanning in the cloud

How it works :

The agent sends up an upload of the baseline snapshot to the cloud agent 
platform for assessment. For the initial upload the agent collects comprehensive 
metadata about the target host (a few megabytes) and sends a baseline snapshot to the 
cloud for assessment. The status Scan Complete is reported upon success. This first scan 
typically takes 30 minutes to 2 hours using the default configuration – after that scans run 
instantly on the delta uploads (a few kilobytes each).
The asset data the agent collects includes many things for the baseline snapshot like 
network posture, OS, open ports, installed software, registry info, what patches are 
installed, environment variables, and metadata associated with files. The agent stores a 
snapshot on the agent host to quickly determine deltas to host metadata it collects.
What signatures are tested? Agent-based scanning uses the same signatures 
(vulnerabilities, compliance datapoints) as traditional scanning with Qualys scanners. 

Uninstall Cloud Agent to recycle licenses

Reports for Cloud Agent Findings:

  1. Log in to Qualys.
  2. Select Vulnerability Management from the drop-down list.
  3. Click Reports > Templates> New> Scan Template. 
  4. On the Report Title tab, give a title to your template.
  5. Choose Host Targets. Please note that you’ll need to run the report on asset tags to get AGENT tracked hosts that are not in VM license, or add IP tracked entries in VM modules (as required) to generate reports on IP/All asset group. Check reporting on agent hosts and cloud agent hosts in asset search report for details.
  6. On the Findings tab, select the Asset Group, IP, or tags then scroll down to select Agent Data.
  7. On the Display tab, select the following:
    • Host Data
    • Text Summary
    • Vulnerability Details
    • Results
    • Appendix
 8. On the Filter tab under Vulnerability Filters, select the following under Status
  • New
  • Active
  • Reopened
9. Under State, select the following:
  • Confirmed Vulnerabilities: Active
  • Potential Vulnerabilities: Active
  • Information Gathered: Active
10. Select the Report Format as Portable Document Format (PDF).
11. Click Run.  

Assetview & Tags

1.1 Dashboard

Some customized widgets :

  • Authentication Failed Assets : vulnerabilities.vulnerability.qid:105015 or vulnerabilities.vulnerability.qid:105053 or vulnerabilities.vulnerability.qid:105296 or vulnerabilities.vulnerability.qid:105297
  • Not Found 90 Days Assets : not”Found in 90 days” and activatedForModules:”VM”
    • Tag Rule:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

  • OS Not Identified Assets: not operatingSystem: “windows” and not operatingSystem: “HP” and not operatingSystem: “Ricoh” and not operatingSystem: “Linux” and not operatingSystem: “VMware” and not operatingSystem: “Xerox” and not operatingSystem: “Cisco” and not operatingSystem: “Power Supply”

YouTube Video: Using Qualys Free Community Edition to Scan Home Network

1.2 Tags

Asset Search – Dynamic Rule
Search all assets found / scanned in last 90 days:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

Enable Agentless Tracking

To reduce / suppress the duplicated assets because of dhcp, one of effective methods is to enable agentless tracking.

In order to support Agentless Tracking capabilities, QualysGuard will write a unique host ID on your Windows and/or Unix hosts during authenticated scans with agentless tracking enabled. Once the Manager primary contact has accepted this feature, agentless tracking may be enabled in Windows and/or Unix authentication records. For additional help, please visit the online help .

2.1. VM > Scans > Setup > Agentless Tracking > Accept

2.2. VM > Scans > Authentication > Edit [Your Authentication Record] > Login Credentials > “Enable Agentless Tracking”

2.3. VM > Users > Setup > Cloud Agent Setup > “Show unified view of hosts”

Note: QID 45179 for successfully checked tracking
QID 45180 – for failed

Change IP Tracked Host Assets to DNS Tracking

Qualys provides multiple mechanisms for tracking assets in your environment; IP, DNS, NetBIOS, Agent, and EC2. In Qualys IP tracking is the default mechanism. DNS and NetBIOS tracking are most useful for DHCP networks.


To change all ip tracking method machines to dns hostname tracking, I will need to search all assets with DNS name is not empty and tracking method is IP, then put them into a new group to do whatever you need to do, or edit all of them to change tracking method.
Issues with DNS tracking:
If you have some hosts which DNS hostname could not be resolved by your DNS servers, they will not be scanned. Here is a screenshot for those DNS hostname could not be resolved.
You will need to manually change them from DNS tracking to IP tracking.

Purge Assets Older than 90 Days

4.1 Manual Purge
The idea is to find all assets not scanned in last 90 days then purge them all.

4.2 Automatically Purge
From your Scans -> Option Profiles, enable the option to Close Vulnerabilities on Dead Hosts.

Delete Older / Obsolete Assets

  • Create an asset group called “ToBeDeleted”
  • Add all available IP’s in your subscription to it and save the AG
  • Now go to Asset search
  • Run an Asset search on the AG “ToBeDeleted”. Just select the AG and hit search. This returns a list of All IP’s in your subscription that has been scanned at-least once. (If it has been scanned at-least once, it isn’t a dead host). You may modify this search to suit your meaning of “Dead host”
  • On this asset search result, select all IP’s and select “Launch a scan” (Don’t run the scan, just hit launch) option from the action menu
  • In the Launch Vulnerability scan window, copy the target IP range
  • Now go back to the Asset group tab and select to edit the Asset group you created called the “ToBeDeleted”
  • In the Edit AG window, go to the IP’s tab, click Manually.
  • In the manual entry IP window, paste the range you have copied and click “Remove”
  • Now save your asset group again
  • Delete or do whatever you want to do to the list of IP’s now in “ToBeDeleted”

Best Practice to Maintain Timely and Effective Qualys Report

from Qualys Community:

1) Purge any assets that have not been scanned in some reasonable number of days.  Depending on your scanning schedule this might be 30, 60, or 90 days.
2) Determine if this is DHCP and set the tracking method for the network range appropriately.  NOTE: To convert to DNS or NetBIOS tracking all assets must have a DNS or NetBIOS name on them already.  So, there may be some clear up and rescanning required to make that happen.
3) Configure and test authentication records, ensure Agentless Tracking enabled in the authentication record.
4) Review your scheduled scan jobs and make any adjustments necessary in option profiles, authentication records etc
5) Scan your ranges
6) It is always a good practice to have a regular purge process.  This can be accomplished in numerous ways, but for good VM practice, it is imperative that the vulnerability data be accurate, timely, and actionable.  

Reduce Asset Duplication

From Qualys Community

  1. Authenticated scanning
  2. Agentless tracking (Run scans using Agentless Tracking)
  3. For our agent-installed assets for servers we created a network scanning job that defaults the agent as the authority.  Basically it scans for everything the agent doesn’t track (port-related)
    • Before this, we were scanning full network scan and agents were reporting in.  This caused a lot of fighting between network scans and agent scans.  We drank the Qualys Kool-Aid and created this scan and it has been working pretty good since then.  It has definitely cut down the QID flapping (scan fighting each other).

Scan a New Subnet

Lets assume I have a new subnet to scan –

Step 1 – Add to the none domain and approved hosts list

Step 2 – Set up a MAP Scan to map that subnet. (Lets assume the map scan found 30 Windows laptops)

Step 3 – In the MAP Report, select all those assets and “ADD” to my subscription. This adds the asset by IP Tracking.

Step 4 – I perform an authenticated scan (Standard profile, Agentless Tracking enabled, Unified View enabled, Dissolvable agent enabled) using a Domain Admin account for the domain the assets are a member of.

Step 5 – I now have 30 laptops with vulnerability information gathered as relevant to an authenticated scan. They are all tracked by IP at this stage.

Step 6 – I now search for those assets in Assets>Asset Search>IP Range> I see 30 laptops. IP Tracked, complete with DNS Names and NetBIOS Names

Step 7 – I select all 30 assets. Edit>Tracking>DNS. The report refreshes to show the same assets but now they are tracked by DNS.

The above steps are exactly what I did many months ago for all our subnets and assets (Relevant tracking as per asset).

Use Light Inventory Scan across whole subnets to capture, tag and then full rescan new assets. 

Use following method to scan a network: none:[], which it will be added into network first

By Jonny

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