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Nmap Network Scanning 125

brothke writes "The 1962 song Wipe Out, with its energetic drum solo started, was the impetus for many people to take up playing the drums. Similarly, Nmap, the legendary network scanner, likely interested many in the art of hacking, and for some, started a career for security professionals and hackers. Nmap and its creator Fyodor need no introduction to anyone on Slashdot. With that, Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning, is a most useful guide to anyone interested in fully utilizing Nmap." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning
author Gordon Lyon (Fyodor)
pages 468
publisher Nmap Project
rating 9
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0979958717
summary Valuable book about an invaluable security tool
One may ask, why spend $50 on this book, when the Nmap Reference Guide provides a significant amount of the basic information needed to use the tool, especially since the reference guide is both free, and well written. The reference guide is included in the book in chapter 15, and takes up 41 pages. And for those that are cash strapped, the free reference guide is the way to go.

In addition, the web site for the book notes that about half of the content is available in the free online edition. The most useful information is in the book in chapters exclusive to the print edition, which includes Detecting and Subverting Firewalls and Intrusion Detection System, Optimizing Nmap Performance, Port Scanning Techniques and Algorithms, Host Discovery, and troubleshooting.

The main benefit of the buying the book is that it has the collected wisdom of Fyodor's, in addition to numerous real-world scenarios, and Nmap commands not documented elsewhere. At over 400 pages, the books 15 chapters provide the reader with everything they need to know about using Nmap to the fullest.

Chapter 1 starts with an overview of the history of Nmap and how it came to be. As to the question of whether port scanning is legal, the author writes that it is best to avoid the debate and its associated analogies. He advises that it's best to avoid ISP abuse reports and criminal charges, by not annoying the target network administrators in the first place. Chapter 1 provides a number of practical suggestions on just how to do that.

A complaint against Nmap it that is has often been blamed for crashing systems. Chapter 1 shows that the reality is that Nmap will rarely be the primary cause of a system crash. The truth is that many of the systems that crashed as a result of an Nmap scan were likely unstable from the outset, and Nmap either pushed them over the top or they coincidentally crashed at the same time as the Nmap scan.

An ironic incident detailed in chapter 3 is when someone from the information security department of Target Corp. complained to the author that he felt the Nmap documentation was particularly directed at his organization; given the use of the term target. He requested that the Nmap documentation be changed from targetto example. The section on target enumeration in the book shows the author did not take that request to heart.

Another example of where the book goes beyond what is in the reference guide is where the author shows the most valuable TCP ports via his probe of tens of millions of IP addresses across the internet. Not surprisingly, ports 80 23 and 443 were the top three most commonly open TCP ports. It is surprising that other ports, which should have been secured long ago, are still as vulnerable as ever.

For the serious Nmap user, the book is worth purchasing just for the indispensable information in chapter 16, which is about optimizing Nmap performance. The author writes that one of his highest priorities in the creation of Nmap has been performance. Nmap uses parallelism and numerous advanced algorithms to execute its blazingly fast scans. This chapter shows how to create Nmap commands to obtain only the information you care about and significantly sped up the scan. The chapter details numerous scan time reduction techniques, and strategies on how to deal with long scans. The chapter concludes with the output of a user who, with a customized Nmap command, was able to reduce his scan of a 676,352 IP address network from nearly a week to 46 hours.

Chapter 10 is also a fascinating chapter on the topic of detection and subverting of firewalls and IDS. The function of such tests on an internal network is to help an organization understand the dangers and risks of a real attack. Since it is not uncommon for firewalls to be accidentally misconfigured, or have rule bases that leak from far too many rules; such a test can be quite useful to any network.

Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning is the guide for anyone who wants to get more out of Nmap. It is useful whether one is a novice and only getting into basic security testing, or an advanced user looking for ways to optimize Nmap.

The book takes a real-world approach on how to use the tool and clearly documents every Nmap feature and option. It also shows how the tool should be correctly used in various settings.

What is unique about is that this is a rare book in which the creator of the program wrote it. Linus Torvalds never got around to writing a Linux reference, nor did the creators of the Check Point firewall. In Nmap Network Scanning, the reader gets the story from the creator of the code itself. This then is the ultimate Nmap reference guide.

Aside from the history and use of the program in the first chapter, the rest of the book is an extreme guide to maximizing the use of Nmap. It is written by a programmer and written for the technically astute. Anyone who wants to maximize their use of Nmap will find no better reference.

Ben Rothke manages the Bright Hub Enterprise Security channel and is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.


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Nmap Network Scanning

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  • Target (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:07PM (#26037263) Homepage Journal

    An ironic incident detailed in chapter 3 is when someone from the information security department of Target Corp. complained to the author that he felt the Nmap documentation was particularly directed at his organization; given the use of the term target.

    He requested that the Nmap documentation be changed from target to walmart

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:21PM (#26037495) Homepage Journal

    Hey, they spent a long time polishing that turd, and they are damn proud of it!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:40PM (#26037795)

    I know that the best approach is to ignore you trolls, even as your slander becomes more and more outrageous. I will admit that I did some trolling of the trolls last year. Big mistake - they have much more of an appetite and time for this than I do. It has been a year and they still continue to write new stories that are more and more absurd. Perhaps I should be flattered that they consider me so important. The troll journal you linked accuses me of "illegally penetrating computers across state lines" and that "Fyodor even submitted his "troll hunting" story to Slashdot, though it was rejected". Another page [geocities.com] includes a fake interview with me, a fake Nmap bug, and notes that I have been "pushing crystal meth on the street for a few months." It has also been said that I am "obviously a terrorist [insecure.org]" and that Nmap "is spyware to spy on the american people [insecure.org]". So I have learned to deal with abusive criticism. Another Slashdot journal currently says "Fyodor is ... a depraved, insidious hacker hell-bent on criminal intrusions into systems owned by minors!" Even I couldn't help but chuckle at that one :). Replying is useless, since the trolls are just looking for attention and care nothing of accuracy. But I will make a few points lest anyone else take the trolls seriously:

            * I am not a terrorist, and have never sold drugs.
            * I did not actually break into any troll boxes, although I did imply that in a misguided attempts to use some of their trolling rhetorical devices against them. I stand by my posting history [slashdot.org].
            * Much of the content in the journal you posted is an outright fabrication and the lies and accusations change by the minute! This (currently score 5) post [slashdot.org] quotes text that I saw in this journal an hour ago. Now it is gone, and many other changes have been made as well. Be careful of linking to Troll journals, or they may turn into goatse links.
            * Some of his lies are self-evident. How could he possibly know much of this stuff, such as that I submitted this as a Slashdot story? I have never submitted any story whatsoever to Slashdot. If there is some sort of public interface to the submission queue that I am unaware of, please post it. You will not find any submissions from me. Note that these [slashdot.org] were all submitted by other people.
            * I have not been "advised by legal counsel not to speak about it in public." If I was to speak with lawyers, it would be about their slander campaign. But they aren't even close to being worth the effort.
            * They claim I hacked a troll named Sdem who is a member [trollaxor.com] of Trollaxor.Com. That page currently admits that he has moved on to harassing other security folks - he is now impersonating Theo de Raadt [slashdot.org], the leader of OpenBSD.

    I could go on, but I have a much more important project to work on today. I won't post further on this troll topic, no matter how much you trolls slander and attack me in your journals and replies to this post. And don't bother posting "YHBT," I know. Hopefully Slashdot moderation will eventually catch up with your games and we can focus on interesting security subjects rather than troll gossip and manufactured scandals.


  • by windsurfer619 ( 958212 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:12PM (#26039971)

    I thought Microsoft just shit^Hpped the first copy that compiled...

  • by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:11PM (#26040849) Journal

    I got jailtime in Germany for trying that. I would not advice it personally.

  • by AgentPhunk ( 571249 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:15PM (#26041551)

    Right. Just be nice and set the Evil bit if you're doing anything naughty. Problem solved.

  • by RockWolf ( 806901 ) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:43PM (#26041809)

    love & kisses, your friendly college sysadmin

    Why didn't I have one of those? I feel so unloved...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:57PM (#26041927)

    Bah, that's nothing. I was banned from my middle school library for a year for cleaning the rollers on a ball mouse.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal