Using the Insight Agent with InsightVM

As an InsightVM subscriber, you can access several feature-rich cloud capabilities powered by the Insight platform. To complement the on-premises scanning infrastructure that you may already have, you can also install the Insight Agent across your network for the purpose of vulnerability assessment.

Why use the Insight Agent with InsightVM?

The Insight Agent best addresses the vulnerability assessment needs of assets that have the following characteristics:

Assets running from remote locations

You may have assets in your organization that operate outside of your company network for long periods of time and regularly connect to the internet in different locations. While a traditional scan requires target assets to be present on your network in order to be assessed, the Insight Agent can send vulnerability data to the Insight Platform as long as the asset has an internet connection. Whether the asset is on your company network or on its assigned user’s home network, the Insight Agent has you covered.

Assets with heavy scanning restrictions

Some of your assets may serve in roles that are too business-critical to absorb the load of a traditional scan during standard hours of operation. This means you often have to find a suitable scanning window for these assets, which can be difficult depending on the role they play. Insight Agents are considerably less burdensome by comparison because the actual assessment process is the responsibility of the Insight platform.

Assets restricted by credentials

Traditional scans rely on configured credentials in InsightVM in order to authenticate to the target asset, which yields more comprehensive vulnerability results. Since Insight Agents monitor the asset from within, their assessments are functionally authenticated already, thus sparing you from having to configure credentials at all.

Where can I view my Insight Agents after I've deployed them?

The Agent Management view in your Insight platform account page is the central location for monitoring all the Insight Agents you have deployed across your organization.

See the Agent Management Help page to learn how to access this view.

Insight Agent and InsightVM scans

For the most accurate view of your environment, we recommend using agent scans for authenticated (local) assets and unauthenticated engine scans for unauthenticated (remote) assets.

Scan capability comparison

The Insight Agent and Scan Engine are designed to complement each other. If both scan the same asset, the Security Console automatically recognizes the data and merges the results.

Insight AgentUnauthenticated scan
(Scan Engine)
Authenticated scan
(Scan Engine)
Scan Assistant
(Scan Engine)
CredentialsN/ANot requiredRequiredN/A
Scheduled scansNoYesYesYes
Scan blackoutsNoYesYesYes
Scan TemplatesN/AYesYesYes
CollectionRegularlyDuring scanDuring scanDuring scan
Type of checkLocal onlyRemote onlyLocal, remote, and policyLocal, remote, and policy (CIS only)

Usage scenarios

Scan sourceCommon usage
Scan Engine
  • To perform policy assessments
  • To perform unauthenticated (remote) scans
  • To discover assets via discovery scans or connections
  • To assess assets unsupported by the Insight Agent, such as network devices
  • Insight Agent
  • To perform policy assessments
  • To perform authenticated (local) scans
  • Asset is located outside of the corporate network
  • Asset is located in a highly isolated or micro-segmented network
  • Asset does not have remote access services (SMB, SSH, etc.) enabled
  • Asset remote access credentials are unavailable
  • Asset is only online for short periods of time
  • Asset is sensitive to network-based scanning
  • Asset requires continuous monitoring as opposed to periodic scans
  • Asset is in a dynamic, cloud, or other complex modern environment that requires flexible deployment
  • Scan Engine and Insight Agent on the same asset
  • Get the external perspective by capturing remote access vulnerabilities that the devices might be exposed to. This does not require credentialed or authenticated scans from the Scan Engine
  • Complete assessments faster by skipping authenticated scans that the Scan Engine knows the Insight Agent will cover
  • Using the Scan Assistant

    The Scan Assistant provides a more secure way to scan your assets, removes the need for administrative credential management, consumes much fewer resources, and significantly decreases the time to complete for policy scans. The Scan Assistant can be leveraged to expand and extend enterprise vulnerability coverage as it is an extension of the Scan Engine that’s complementary to the Insight Agent and compatible with the InsightVM cloud platform.

    Better security

    The Scan Assistant leverages Transport Layer Security (TLS) with elliptic curve asymmetric encryption (ECDSA) and advanced encryption standard (AES) and digital certificates to create a trusted secure channel between the Scan Engine and the Scan Assistant.

    No credential management

    The Scan Assistant provides the only access needed for you to run an authenticated scan. There is no need for privileged Admin account access to assets. This means that the Scan Assistant can perform scans without the hassle of managing credentials to assets.

    You do not need to use SSH, CIFS, WMI or other traditional account-based credentials alongside the Scan Assistant, since the Scan Assistant acts as your credential type. Note that the Scan Engine prioritizes the Scan Assistant over other credential types when it is present.


    The Scan Assistant is lightweight and efficient. It consumes minimal memory and CPU resources. Once installed, the Scan Assistant provides Registry and File System (Windows) or Command Execution (Linux) services on the local asset. The Scan Assistant only runs when scans are initiated.

    Faster policy scans

    Due to the large amounts of data being collected, policy scans usually take a while to complete. With the Scan Assistant, policy scan time completion improves vastly.

    Usage scenarios

    ScenarioHow the Scan Assistant Helps
    Authenticated scan credentials are difficult to administerThe Scan Assistant uses digital certificates instead of traditional administrative credentials
    Need more control over site parametersThe Scan Assistant does not require Internet connectivity
    Concerns about agent resource utilization for mission critical assetsThe Scan Assistant is only active during scans initiated by the Scan Engine
    Need granular control over assessment parameters for particular assetsThe Scan Assistant responds to specific scan parameters defined by the Console to the Scan Engine
    Need to accelerate completion times for vulnerability and policy scansCompared to traditional authenticated scans, the Scan Assistant will be faster for vulnerability scans and orders of magnitude faster for policy scans

    Complementary scanning

    If you deploy Scan Engines and Insight Agents together to assess your assets for vulnerabilities, you can enable complementary scanning to do the following:

    Use caseValueRequired credentials
    To gain an external perspective of remote access vulnerabilitiesGet the external perspective by identifying remote access vulnerabilities that the devices might be exposed toScan Engine: Unauthenticated (remote) scan does not require elevated credentials

    Insight Agent: None
    To complete assessments more quickly and improve performanceAllows you to skip checks that the Scan Engine knows the Insight Agent is running, increasing efficiency. Stress on the Security Console is reduced since the Scan Engine won’t need to produce as many results for integrationScan Engine: Authenticated scan (local) requires root permission

    Insight Agent: None


    The following requirements must be satisfied for complementary scanning to be enabled:

    • Your asset must be running Insight Agent version 2.7.17 or later.
    • Highest permissions are required. Depending on your operating system, you must have Administrative or Root credentials.

    How does complementary scanning work?

    The Insight Agent keeps a record of the vulnerability assessments it runs for the asset on which it is installed. When complementary scanning is enabled, your Scan Engine consults this record to determine if running authenticated vulnerability checks is necessary. As long as the last Insight Agent assessment was successful and ran within the normal data collection schedule, the Scan Engine skips all authenticated vulnerability checks for that asset.

    Complementary scanning does not affect the Insight Agent

    Enabling complementary scanning only affects what actions the Scan Engine will be responsible for during a scan job. The feature itself will not direct an Insight Agent to collect new data if the Scan Engine determines that the last agent assessment did not run successfully, or if the agent did not collect new data as scheduled.

    Complementary scanning diagram

    Enable complementary scanning

    This feature is available for all scan templates that have the Vulnerabilities check type enabled. Enable complementary scanning by adjusting your scan template configuration:

    1. In the Security Console, click the Administration tab in your left menu.
    2. In the Scan section, click Scans > Scan Templates > Manage scan templates.
    3. Select and open the scan template you want to configure by clicking its name link.
    4. On the Scan Template Configuration page, under Types of Checks, select the Vulnerabilities check box > click the Vulnerability Checks tab.
    5. In the Check Configuration section, select the Skip checks performed by the Insight Agent check box.
    6. Click Save.

    Learn more about the Insight Agent

    Insight Agents are an important part of any InsightVM deployment, and even more so if your organization also subscribes to InsightIDR or InsightOps. For this reason, Rapid7 continually develops and maintains a dedicated documentation set for all Insight Agent related resources.

    Check out the Insight Agent help pages to learn more about the following topics:

    • Overview information, including the types of data that the Insight Agent collects and how the agent software updates
    • Comprehensive requirements, including supported operating systems, network configuration, and application settings
    • Complete download and install instructions for both Insight Agent installer types
    • Mass deployment guidelines
    • Advanced configuration options
    • Common troubleshooting solutions