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Scanning attack

Scanning attack definition

A scanning attack involves trying to find vulnerabilities or weaknesses in a computer system or network by searching for open ports, services, or other entry points. The attacker typically uses special tools and software to do this. Scanning attacks help them collect information about the system or network, which they may use to plan and launch further cyberattacks.

See also: port scanning, cyberattack

How scanning attacks work

  1. 1.The attacker uses specialized tools or software to scan a system or network they’re targeting. These tools may include port scanners, web application scanners, WHOIS and DNS lookup tools, packet sniffers, or the Shodan search engine).
  2. 2.The tools check different ports, services, or entry points for vulnerabilities (like outdated software, misconfigured services, unprotected ports, or network misconfigurations).
  3. 3.The attacker gathers information about the target system and analyzes it to understand where potential vulnerabilities are.
  4. 4.If they’ve found substantial weaknesses in the system, they may plan and launch further attacks (like gaining unauthorized access, stealing data, or service disruption).

Preventing scanning attacks

  • Use firewalls: Set up firewalls to control network traffic and block unauthorized access.
  • Keep systems up to date: Regularly update software, operating systems, and applications to fix known vulnerabilities.
  • Network segmentation: Divide your network into sections and enforce access controls.
  • Use intrusion detection systems: Monitor network activity to detect suspicious behavior.
  • Strong authentication: Use strong passwords and consider using multi-factor authentication.