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What is network and port scanning?

Network scanning is the process of gathering intelligence regarding the various interconnected computer systems. It utilizes the established networking capabilities and lists out the details of all the connected systems. Some of the basic functions of network scanning are mentioned below.

  • Identifying all the UDP and TCP network services that are currently operating on the network.
  • Identifying the various filtering systems between users and hosts.
  • Recognizing the operating systems that are running on the live machines
  • Identifying and checking for network attacks such as TCP spoofing by checking the TCP sequence number predictability.

Network scanning is one of the most important processes for identifying network vulnerabilities. Network scanning can not only check the network for threats but also the connected systems for malicious applications software. This is also known as vulnerability scanning and can detect threats before they crash host systems or compromise the entire network.

Combating Network Hacks with Port Scanners

A port scanner shows all the active machines on the network and the operating applications. They also provide a view of the basic layout of the network. These features can easily identify any kind of unauthorized activities on the network and can also detect errors in network host configuration which can lead to backdoors.

Just a customary port scan will not result in effective network security. The key thing is interpreting the results delivered by a port scan. Often there are false positives generated which require further analysis. It is not enough to target just the vital ports. Most cyber-attacks rely on negligence and surprise. Added to this, one can also choose to scan the networks with more than just one kind of port scanner and analyze the discrepancies in the results. As far as possible, all the 65,534 TCP ports should be scanned using multiple port scanners.

Another popular method which is often combined with port scanning is ping sweeping. A ping sweep is basically sending signals to all the connected devices on the network using Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets. While most operating systems come with inbuilt port scanning features which are accessed via the console (such as nmap) they can be quite complex to use. There is a wide range of user-friendly port scanning software available on the internet which presents its reports in an easy-to-read and clear format.

Added to network scanning, every network should have an effective firewall which needs to be updated constantly to be effective against the latest threats.


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