Why Would Ethical Professionals (White-hats) Ever Do This?

Some of you white-hat readers may be tempted to skip this chapter. For authorized use against your own networks, why would you ever want to evade your own security systems? Because it helps in understanding the danger of real attackers. If you can sneak around a blocked portmapper port using Nmap direct RPC scanning, then so can the bad guys. It is easy to make a mistake in configuring complex firewalls and other devices. Many of them even come with glaring security holes which conscientious users must find and close. Regular network scanning can help find dangerous implicit rules (for example, in your Checkpoint Firewall-1 or Windows IPsec filters) before attackers do.

There are good reasons for evading IDSs as well. Product evaluation is one of the most common. If attackers can slide under the radar by simply adding an Nmap flag or two, the system is not offering much protection. It may still catch the script kiddies and worms, but they are usually blazingly obvious anyway.

Occasionally people suggest that Nmap should not offer features for evading firewall rules or sneaking past IDSs. They argue that these features are just as likely to be misused by attackers as used by administrators to enhance security. The problem with this logic is that these methods would still be used by attackers, who would just find other tools or patch the functionality into Nmap. Meanwhile, administrators would find it that much harder to do their jobs. Deploying only modern, patched FTP servers is a far more powerful defense than trying to prevent the distribution of tools implementing the FTP bounce attack.