Network Scanning


Network scanning refers to a process in which a computer, device, or software systematically examines a network in order to discover and identify its components, such as routers, servers, and other connected devices. This is typically done for security purposes, to assess vulnerabilities, or to manage devices on the network. It can involve techniques like port scanning, ping sweeping, and vulnerability scanning.

Key Takeaways

  1. Network scanning is a process used to identify and analyze devices, systems, and services connected to a network, often for security, maintenance, or troubleshooting purposes.
  2. Various network scanning techniques and tools are available, including port scanning, vulnerability scanning, and network mappers like Nmap, which gather information on open ports, running services, software versions, and more.
  3. While network scanning can be an essential practice in maintaining and securing networks, it can also be used maliciously by hackers to identify potential targets and vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure proper network security measures and monitoring are in place.


Network scanning is a crucial aspect of technology as it allows organizations and individuals to identify, analyze, and manage devices, systems, and vulnerabilities within a given network.

This process involves proactive monitoring of network components to detect security gaps, open ports, and unauthorized devices.

By conducting regular network scans, IT teams can effectively assess the overall security state, ensure compliance with security protocols, and develop appropriate countermeasures to prevent potential threats or breaches.

Hence, network scanning plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity, performance, and stability of a network infrastructure, fostering a secure and efficient online environment for users.


Network scanning serves as a crucial process in the management and maintenance of computer networks. Its primary purpose is to identify and analyze the various devices, systems, and infrastructure connected within a network. By doing so, it enables network administrators and security professionals to gain a comprehensive understanding of the network landscape, allowing them to detect any vulnerabilities and mitigate potential risks.

Furthermore, network scanning aids in optimizing network performance and resource allocation by providing insights into bandwidth usage, system uptime, and device connectivity. The applicability of network scanning goes beyond simple network maintenance. It plays a significant role in ensuring network security by allowing for the constant monitoring of potential threats, unauthorized devices, and unsecured network access points.

The process involves utilizing tools such as port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and routing tables to gather valuable information. This gathered data can then be used to formulate effective defense strategies and ensure the smooth operation of a network. In summary, network scanning is an essential practice for maintaining network integrity, optimizing performance, and safeguarding valuable data from potential security breaches.

Examples of Network Scanning

Vulnerability Assessment: In many organizations, network scanning is utilized as a part of the vulnerability assessment process. Security teams will use specialized tools like Nmap, Nessus, or OpenVAS to discover open ports, running services, and potential vulnerabilities on all devices within the network. The results of these scans help IT administrators identify and fix security weaknesses, ensuring that the organization’s network remains secure and up-to-date.

Network Management and Asset Discovery: Network scanners are used for asset discovery and inventory management. This involves scanning the network to collect information about the devices connected to it, such as computers, servers, printers, and other networked devices. This allows network administrators to track and manage their resources, ensuring that all devices are accounted for and properly maintained. Tools like SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and Paessler PRTG Network Monitor can help automate the process of network scanning and provide administrators with valuable information about their assets.

Penetration Testing: Network scanning is a crucial component of ethical hacking or penetration testing. This practice involves simulating an attack on an organization’s network to expose security flaws and test their defenses. Penetration testers use network scanners to identify potential targets within the network, gathering information about open ports, running services, and possible vulnerabilities. Once this information is collected, the testers will use their findings to attempt to exploit the system and gain unauthorized access. Network scanning in this context helps identify areas where an organization’s security needs improvement, ultimately protecting them from real-world cyberattacks.

FAQ – Network Scanning

1. What is network scanning?

Network scanning is a process that involves identifying active hosts, ports, and services on a network in order to assess network vulnerabilities, monitor network security, and manage connected devices. It helps administrators understand the network structure, improve overall network management, and address potential security concerns.

2. What are the common techniques used in network scanning?

Some common techniques used in network scanning are:

  • Ping scanning – Determines if a host is active using Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets.
  • Port scanning – Identifies open ports and the services running on those ports.
  • Network mapping – Identifies the devices connected to the network and their structure.
  • OS fingerprinting – Detects the operating system running on devices in the network.

3. What are the benefits of network scanning?

Network scanning offers several advantages, such as:

  • Enhanced security by identifying network vulnerabilities.
  • Improved network management through better awareness of connected devices and their configurations.
  • Monitoring of unauthorized access and maintaining a secure network environment.
  • Faster troubleshooting and resolution of network issues.

4. Is network scanning illegal?

Network scanning itself is not illegal, as it is often performed by network administrators to secure and manage their networks effectively. However, it can be considered illegal or unethical if performed with malicious intent or without proper authorization from the network owner or administrators.

5. What tools are used for network scanning?

There are various network scanning tools in the market, both free and commercial. Some popular examples include:

  • Nmap – A widely-used open-source tool that offers various scanning techniques, including OS fingerprinting.
  • Wireshark – A network protocol analyzer that captures and analyzes network traffic.
  • Angry IP Scanner – A lightweight and free multi-platform network scanner.
  • SolarWinds Port Scanner – A commercial offering with advanced features for port scanning and network analysis.

Related Technology Terms

  • Port scanning
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Network mapper (Nmap)
  • Packet sniffing
  • Network enumeration

Sources for More Information

  • Techopedia – A comprehensive tech dictionary and information resource.
  • Computerworld – A leading source of technology news and information for IT influencers worldwide.
  • Network World – A site that covers the latest news and technology trends related to networks and data centers.
  • ScienceDirect – A platform for peer-reviewed literature on a wide range of scientific topics, including network scanning technology.

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