How to Install Nessus Scanner on Kali Linux

Tanner Jones @all-tech-guy

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Hey there! This is a quick walkthrough on how to install Nessus on your Kali Linux machine. First off, let’s chat a little about what Nessus is and what it is used for. Nessus is a proprietary vulnerability scanner developed by Tenable. Nessus is a remote security scanning tool, which scans a computer and raises an alert if it discovers any vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could use to gain access to any computer you have connected to a network. (source) There is an interface that displays the results and rates the findings based on severity. The software is installed on your local machine and accessed through your browser on your localhost. It has a variety of features and allows you to create custom scans to find vulnerabilities within a variety of systems. The software is expensive, so we are going to be using the free version in this walkthrough.

Alright. Now that you have a basic understanding of what Nessus is, let’s get Nessus installed and working on your machine. The first step is to visit Nessus’s download page.

Download Nessus Here: Download Link

In this example, I am installing Nessus on my Kali VM. If you are downloading it on a different OS, then you will need to find the corresponding ISO to fit your OS’s architecture. Download the most recent version; the current version at the time of this walkthrough for Kali is 8.13.1.

The file will download and a registration prompt will appear. For the trial version, you will need an activation code. Enter your information in the register form as shown below.

You will receive an email with the activation code. Keep this email open because you will need to use the activation code shortly.

Now it is time to install the downloaded ISO file on your VM. Open a terminal window and go to the directory where your Nessus file was downloaded. My file is the root directory.

Run the following command to install the Nessus package to your machine.

sudo dpkg -i package_file.deb

Run the next command to start the Nessus service.

sudo /bin/systemctl start nessusd.service

You now have Nessus downloaded, installed, and running on your machine. Open a web browser and navigate to the following address.


A warning window will appear → click “advanced” → click “Accept the Risk and Continue”

For this example, we are going to be using the “Nessus Essentials” product.

Copy and past your activation code that you received earlier to activate the software.

Create a username and password for your account.

Go take a break and come back in ~20 minutes! It takes a while for Nessus to initialize and compile all the plugins. Make sure you have enough hard drive space allocated to your VM.

Now that you are refueled and ready, it is time to log in to your Nessus account.

Once you are logged on, you can begin scanning by entering your host’s IP address range, or you can → click “cancel” and do a custom scan depending on your needs.

There are certain tools that are accessible using the free version, but there are others that require the professional version.

Nessus is installed! Good luck, and happy hacking! I hope this walkthrough made it quick and easy to install Nessus and will help you along in your journey of becoming a better security professional.

I am passionate about technology and I am curious of how things work. I write to learn and help others learn about a variety of topics. I love the outdoors!