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In an age where cybersecurity concerns are paramount and IT infrastructure is increasingly complex, maintaining robust system scanning methodologies has never been more critical. Two prevalent strategies for these system scans are agent-based and agentless scanning. Each offers its unique advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different applications. This article will dive into the specifics of both agentless and agent-based scanning, evaluating their pros and cons, and discussing why agentless scanning is gaining popularity. We will also spotlight how Runecast is leveraging agentless scanning technology to offer enhanced security for your environment.

What is Agent-based Scanning?

Agent-based scanning involves installing a software agent on each system that needs to be scanned. The agent is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the system's status, enabling real-time data collection and analysis.

Advantages of Agent-based Scanning

Real-time Data Collection

With agent-based scanning, you receive real-time monitoring of the host system. This is crucial for maintaining the up-to-date status of system health.

Deep, Detailed Scans

Agents can conduct deep scans, providing comprehensive insights into the system. This includes scanning files, processes, and even the registry, offering a more detailed analysis than agentless methods.

Disadvantages of Agent-based Scanning

Maintenance Effort 

Each agent requires installation, configuration, and regular updates. This can add significant overhead, especially in large, dynamic environments.

System Resource Use 

Agents consume system resources, which can impact performance, particularly in resource-constrained environments.

What is Agentless Scanning?

Agentless scanning, as the name suggests, involves no agents. Instead, it relies on the network's existing protocols to scan systems remotely, typically by communicating with the system's management interface.

Why Did Agentless Scanning Emerge?

Agentless scanning emerged as a direct response to the shortcomings and limitations of agent-based scanning. In particular, the maintenance effort and system resource use associated with agent-based scanning prompted the development of a more streamlined, less intrusive solution. Agentless scanning filled this gap, providing an alternative that alleviated these pain points while still offering robust system scanning capabilities.

Advantages of Agentless Scanning

Ease of Deployment and Maintenance 

As no software needs to be installed on the target systems, agentless scanning is easier to deploy and maintain.

No Impact on System Performance

Since there are no agents running on the system, there's no additional resource usage, making agentless scanning a less intrusive and less resource intensive method.

Disadvantages of Agentless Scanning

Limited Depth of Scan

Agentless scans may not delve as deep as agent-based scans. They typically can't access the same level of detail within the system.

Dependency on Network Reliability

Agentless scanning relies on the network for communication. Network issues can therefore impact the reliability and speed of the scans.

The Rising Popularity of Agentless Scanning

Agentless scanning has been gaining popularity for several reasons, chief among these is its simplicity in terms of deployment and maintenance. With no agents to install, configure, or update, agentless scanning reduces overhead for IT teams. Moreover, its non-intrusive nature, which ensures no performance impact on the scanned systems, is a significant advantage in today's resource-sensitive environments.

Furthermore, advancements in technology have begun to mitigate some of the traditional limitations of agentless scanning. Improvements in network reliability and speed, coupled with more sophisticated scanning tools, have enhanced the depth and reliability of agentless scans.

Who is Agentless Scanning Ideal For?

Agentless scanning shines particularly brightly for cloud-native workloads that demand platform agnostic operation, a common requirement in today's multi-cloud world. By eliminating the need for agent installation, these scanning methods allow workloads to flexibly operate across multiple cloud providers. This adaptability is a boon for organizations seeking to maintain a nimble, scalable IT infrastructure without being tethered to a single cloud service.

Runecast and Agentless Scanning

Recognizing the rising demand and potential of agentless scanning, Runecast has embraced this technology. It now offers agentless scanning for AWS, providing users with a simpler, non-intrusive scanning method without compromising on security.

This incorporation of agentless scanning is a testament to Runecast's commitment to staying ahead of the technology curve and providing the best solutions for their customers. Moreover, Runecast plans to expand the number of technologies it supports with its agentless scanning, underlining its dedication to this scanning method.


Agent-based and agentless scanning both have their unique benefits and drawbacks. The choice between them depends largely on the specific needs and constraints of your IT environment. However, the simplicity and non-intrusive nature of agentless scanning are driving its increased adoption.

Innovative solutions like the Runecast are leading the way in this trend, leveraging the benefits of agentless scanning for advanced cybersecurity. As agentless scanning continues to evolve and improve, it is poised to become an increasingly vital tool in IT security management.

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