Port Enumeration Tools: Part One

port enumeration toolsIn this article, we’ll begin to discuss the tools that are useful in the enumeration phase of an assessment. These port enumeration tools will scan a list of targets and ports to help determine more information about each target. The enumeration phase usually reveals program names, version numbers, and other detailed information that will eventually be used to determine vulnerabilities on these systems.

The version-scanning feature of nmap is invoked with the -sV flag. Based on a returned banner, or on a specific response to an nmap-provided probe, a match is made between the service response and the nmap service fingerprints. This is a new feature and since it interrogates discovered services, many intrusion detection system (IDS) vendors will be writing signature files for this type of behavior, so use it with caution.

Port Enumeration Tools: p0f

p0f is the only passive fingerprinting port enumeration tool included in the Auditor distribution. If you want to be extremely stealthy in your initial scan and enumeration processes, and don’t mind getting high-level results for OS fingerprinting, p0f is the tool for you. It works by analyzing the responses from your target on innocuous queries, such as Web traffic, ping replies, or normal operations. p0f gives the best estimation on an operating system based on those replies, so it may not be as precise as other active tools, but it can still give you a good starting point.

Port Enumeration Tools: Xprobe2

Another important port enumeration tool is Xprobe2, which is primarily an OS fingerprinter, but also has some basic port-scanning functionality built in to identify open or closed ports. You can also specify known open or closed ports, to which Xprobe2 performs several different TCP-, UDP-, and iCMP-based tests to determine the remote OS. The version supplied with Auditor is one version behind, but newer versions have more fingerprints. You will likely want to provide Xprobe2 with a known open or closed port for it to determine the remote OS.


If you run across a web server and want to know the HTTP daemon running without loading up a big fingerprinting tool that might trip IDS sensors, then httprint may be your tool of choice, as it is designed for just such a purpose. It only fingerprints http servers, and does both banner grabbing as well as signature matching against a provided signatures file.

Port Enumeration Tools: IKE-scan

One of the more common VPN implementations involves the use of IPsec tunnels. Different manufacturers have slightly different usages of IPsec, which can be discovered and fingerprinted using IKE-scan. IKE stands for Internet Key Exchange, and is used to provide a secure basis for establishing an IPsec-secured tunnel. IKE-scan can be run in two different modes: Main (-M) and Aggressive (-A), each of which can identify different VPN implementations. Both operate under the principle that VPN servers will attempt to establish communications to a client that only sends the initial portion of an IPsec handshake. An initial IKE packet is sent (with Aggressive mode, a UserID is also specified), and based on the time elapsed and types of responses sent, the VPN server can be identified based on service fingerprints. In addition to the VPN fingerprinting functionality, IKE-scan includes psk-crack, which is a program used to dictionary crack pre-shared keys (psk) used for VPN logins. IKE-scan does not have fingerprints for all VPN vendors, and since the fingerprints change based on version increase, you may not find a fingerprint for your specific VPN, but you can still gain useful information such as the Authentication type and encryption algorithm used.

Sometimes, you may encounter a service that may not be easily recognizable by port number or immediate response. amap will send multiple queries and probes to a specific service, and then analyze the results, including returned banners, to identify what application or service is actually running on a specific port. There are options that allow you to minimize parallel attempts, or really stress the system with a large number of attempts, which may provide different information. You can also query a service once, and report back on the first matching banner reported, using the -1 option.

In the next article, we’ll continue our look at various port enumeration tools.


External Links:

Official p0f website

p0f on Wikipedia

X probe2 on sourceforge.net

IKE-Scan home page

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