Network Scanning Tools

In terms of network security, network scanning technologies now hold a key position. As network administrators, you cannot afford to have holes and weaknesses in your network because doing so would be a costly and dangerous business blunder. Network scanning is useful in this situation. 

Network Scanning Tools

It may be defined as the tools used to perform a scan on the network to detect the existing vulnerabilities. The network scan is all about checking for the security misconfigurations in the network devices. Another reason that usually leads to vulnerability in the network is using the old versions of any service. The network scanning could be performed using either the command line utilities of the Linux operating system or some of the cloud-based applications.

Below are the popular tools that are used to perform network scanning. 

1. Nexpose

Nexpose may be defined as the network scanning tool that is used to perform network scanning. It usually runs the Nmap scripts in the background in order to perform the scan. The output of the scan is based on which model of scan has been done.

There are two modes of scanning in Nexpose: 1. Authenticated Scanning 2. Unauthenticated Scanning.

The result produced by the nexpose engine during an unauthenticated scan is inaccurate since it does not scan the files that require authentication. Since the scan was authenticated using the admin credentials, it checks the important configuration files. Since the console, database, and engine are all located on the same server, Nexpose has a one-tier architecture. The company that created this technology, Rapid7, is the maker of Nexpose.

Key Features:

  • Nexpose is a commercial network scanning tool that is available free as its Community Edition.
  • It comes with scanning capabilities of the network, operating systems, application database, etc.
  • It provides web-based GUI that can be installed on Windows and Linux operating systems and even on virtual machines.
  • Nexpose Community Edition includes all solid features to analyze the network. 

2. NMap

NMap may be considered another command line-based network scanning utility found inbuilt on some of the Linux distribution. It runs the scan in order to check the status of a port by using either TCP or UDP protocol. It is a strong eno to scan all the 65535 ports. While using this utility, several attributes could be used in order to customize the scan.

The operating system of the host or network device that Nmap scans can also be found. The attributes have a few default values, and by utilizing these attributes, we can efficiently scan the network. As it serves as the foundation for tools like nexpose, all of nexpose’s actions are really carried out using Nmap in the background. It verifies whether any port is open, closed, or filtered. It takes the necessary time and also tries to create the connection in accordance with the type of protocol we choose when scanning the network.

Key Features:

  • Nmap as the name suggests maps your network and its ports numerically hence it is also known as Port Scanning Tool.
  • Nmap comes with NSE (Nmap Scripting Engine) scripts to detect network security issues and misconfiguration.
  • It is a free tool that checks for host availability by examining the IP packets.
  • Nmap is a complete suite that is available in the GUI and CLI( Command Line Interface) version.
  • It includes the following utilities:
    • Zenmap with advanced GUI.
    • Ndiff for computer scan results.
    • NPing for Response Analysis.  

3. Nikto

Nikto may be defined as the other command-line based network scanning utility that is usually present in the Linux distribution like Kali Linux.

It is preferred when the requirement is to perform server type specific checks. Though Nikto is considered the tool that generates lots of false alarms but still being open-source, it is often used for network scanning. Like the other tools, it also checks the vulnerabilities existing in the network and alerts us about them so that those could be fixed before the attacker takes advantage of it. It is available by default in some of the Linux distributions while installed in others. The way it scans the network is pretty much the same as the other tools do, but it lacks the availability to run the scan in a customized manner. Also, being a command-line tool, the user’s whim is familiar with the command line interface finds it easy to work with it and remains of the users prefer to work with the graphical user interface based tools. 

Key Features:

  • It is an open-source web server scanner.
  • It performs rapid testing to recognize suspicious behavior on the network along with any network program that can exploit network traffic.
  • Some of the best features of Nikto are:
    • Full HTTP proxy support.
    • Customized reporting in XML, HTML and CSV formats.
  • The scanning features of Nikto are updated automatically.
  • It checks for HTTP servers, web server options and server configurations. 

4. Zenmap

Zenmap is the graphical user interface version of the Nmap network security scanner. It may also be defined as the GUI based network scanning tool that runs the Nmap commands in the background in order to perform the scan. In this tool’s environment, there is an input box that specifically serves the purpose of taking the Nmap commands.

The results of running the Nmap program are displayed in an output section beneath that input box. This is a well-liked network scanning tool among users that prefer working with a graphical user interface because it is also open-source. The key feature of this program is that it is capable of carrying out every activity that Nmap is capable of, which makes it incredibly beneficial and simple to use.

5. Advanced IP Scanner

One of the top IP Scanner tools, the Advanced IP Scanner is free, open-source, and compatible with Windows 10, being used by about 50 million users.

  • Scans the Local Area Network and lists out all the devices on the network, including wireless devices.
  • Access shared folders and remotely controls computers, even switching off the computers.
  • Easy to use, there is a portable version too of free network scanning tools for Windows. 

6. OpenVAS

The other network scanner, OpenVAS, is mostly used for managing vulnerabilities and conducting vulnerability scans. It was initially an open-source program before Tenable changed its license to a proprietary one. This scanner operates in a similar fashion to previous scanners. It may also be regarded as the network scanning tools, which are very effective and efficient in running scans and revising the output because the results of scanning are generally accurate. The way to remediate the vulnerabilities is also mentioned in the report sheet, making it very easy for the users to mitigate the risk caused due to that vulnerability. In comparison to the other tools, several organisations also use it as it supports the feature of scheduled scanning. This tool makes it very easy to keep track of all the network’s vulnerabilities so that it should be kept protected against harmful attacks. 

Key Features:

  • The Open Vulnerability Assessment System(OpenVAS) is a free network security scanning tool.
  • Many components of OpenVAS are licensed under GNU General Public License.
  • The major component of OpenVAS is the Security Scanner which runs in a Linux environment only.
  • It can be integrated with Open Vulnerability Assessment Language (OVAL) to write vulnerability tests.
  • Scanning options provided by OpenVAS are:
    • Full scan: Full network scanning.
    • Web server scan: For web server and web application scanning.
    • WordPress Scan: For WordPress vulnerability and WordPress web server issues.
  • Proven as a powerful network vulnerability scanning tool with an intelligent custom scan. 

7. Wireshark 

Known as a multi-platform network protocol analyzer, Wireshark is one of the open-source network scanning tools. 

Key Features:

  • Wireshark is an open-source tool that is known as a multi-platform network protocol analyzer.
  • It scans data vulnerabilities on a live network between the active client and server.
  • You can view network traffic and follow the network stream.
  • Wireshark runs on Windows, Linux as well on OSX.
  • It shows the stream construction of TCP session and includes tshark which is a tcpdump console version (tcpdump is a packet analyzer that runs on a command line).
  • The only issue with Wireshark is that it has suffered from Remote Security Exploitation. 

8. Angry IP Scanner

This is a recommended best IP Scanner tool that is open-source and works well in scanning local networks and the internet. 

Key Features:

  • It is a free and open-source network scanning utility with the ability to scan IP addresses and also performs port scans effectively and rapidly.
  • The scan report consists of information such as hostname, NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output System), MAC address, computer name, workgroup information, etc.
  • Report generation is in CSV, Txt and/or XML format.
  • It is based on the Multi-threaded Scanning approach which is a separate scanning thread for each individual IP address, helps to improve the scanning process.  

9. ManageEngine OpUtils 

ManageEngine OpUtils is an IP address and switch port manager that offers powerful network scanning capabilities, suitable for small to enterprise-scale networks.

It uses different network protocols like ICMP and SNMP, to conduct extensive network scans. It can be run to view insights into IT resources such as connected devices, servers, and switch ports.

The solution is easy to use, and being a web-based, cross-platform tool, it can run on both Linux and Windows servers. It also provides more than 30 built-in network tools for instant diagnosis and troubleshooting of network issues.

Key Features:

  • It can scan across multiple subnets, servers, and routers from a centralized console.
  • It allows you to group resources based on their location, managing IT admin, and so on. You can scan these individually, and can also automate periodic scanning.
  • It displays real-time statuses along with the availability, and utilization metrics of the scanned IPs, servers, and switch ports.
  • Provides custom dashboards and top-N widgets that visualize crucial network metrics.
  • It allows you to configure threshold-based alerts, that are triggered in case of an emerging network issue.
  • It generates diverse reposts, that provide granular insights into the scanned network resources. 

Few Other Tools

Apart from these tools, there are many other tools that are being used for scanning the network traffic.

Let us take a quick look at them.

10. Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector:

It quickly examines the Wi-Fi network with all its vulnerabilities. It is a powerful tool to troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues. Helps to check the integrity and performance of your Wi-Fi network

11. GFI LanGuard:

This commercial tool is used to scan small as well as large networks. Runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. This tool allows analyzing your network state from any location at any time.

12. Total Network Monitor:

This tool monitors the local network with working hosts and services on it. It reports you with colors such as Green for the successful result, Red for negative and black for an incomplete process.

13. MyLanViewer Network/IP Scanner:

It is a popular tool for network IP scanning Wake-On-LAN, remote shutdown and NetBIOS. It is a user- friendly tool that represents your network state in an easy to analyze way.

14. Splunk:

It is a data collection and analysis utility that collects and analyzes data such as TCP/UDP traffic, services and event log on a network to notify you when your network catches up with some issues.

15. NetXMS:

The open-source tool works in a multi-platform environment and its major feature is that it supports multiple operating systems, databases and performs analysis on a distributed network.

It provides a web-based interface along with the management console and is known as Network Management and Monitoring System.

16. NetworkMiner:

NetworkMiner is Network Forensic Analysis Tool (NFAT) for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Gathers information about live ports, hostname, and works as Packet Capture Tool or Passive Network Sniffer.

The tool helps to perform Advance Network Traffic Analysis (NTA).

17. Icinga2:

This is a Linux based open-source network monitoring tool that is used to examine network availability and notify the users about network issues. Icinga2 provides business intelligence for an in-depth and detailed analysis of the network.

18. Capsa Free:

Monitors and analyzes network traffic and help to resolve network issues. Supports 300 network protocols and provides a customized report system.

19. PRTG Network Monitor Freeware:

Monitors network ability and usage based on a protocol such as SNMP and provides a web-based interface. Possesses features like detailed reporting, flexible alert system, and comprehensive network monitoring but the tool is limited up to 10 sensors only.  


The network devices are automatically scanned by these network scanning technologies. It is feasible to map the topology of a network thanks to this quick, automatic, and fast examination of its resources. It gives network device performance data, availability information, and defect information. This information is displayed on a customizable dashboard. These tools help quickly identify any loopholes in the network, thus stepping up the security system against unprecedented threats. Quick identification leads to quick measures keeping the system and devices protected against any such attacks. It is for this reason network scanning tools are used.   

In this article, we have reviewed the most popular and widely used network scanning tools. There may be much more apart from these. You can choose the best suitable for your system according to your network behavior to overcome network issues.

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