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Port Scanner

Definition - What does Port Scanner mean?

A port scanner refers to a software application program that scans a server for open ports. It enables auditors and network administrators to examine network security while attackers and hackers use it to identify open ports for exploiting and/or running malicious services on a host computer or server.

Port scanners are primarily used by network security administrators to scan and monitor network ports on a system, server or IT environment.

Techopedia explains Port Scanner

Port scanners work by attempting to connect to all or a set of predefined ports on a system that provides network or application access. Depending on the capabilities of the port scanner or scan requirements, a port scanner may have several operation modes including:

  • Vanilla: Probes and scans all ports on a system/server.
  • Strobe: Only selected ports are scanned or probed.
  • UDP: Scans for open UDP ports.
  • Sweep: A similar port number is probed on more than one computer.

Although a port scanner is designed to aid network administrators in strengthening security, if used unethically by hackers it can reveal open ports that could be exploited.

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