Service and Version Detection
Point Nmap at a remote machine and it might tell you
53/udp are open. Using its
database of about 2,200
Nmap would report that those ports probably correspond to a
mail server (SMTP), web server (HTTP), and name server (DNS)
respectively. This lookup is usually accurate—the vast
majority of daemons listening on TCP port 25 are, in fact, mail
servers. However, you should not bet your security on this!
People can and do run services on
Even if Nmap is right, and the hypothetical server above is
running SMTP, HTTP, and DNS servers, that is not a lot of
information. When doing vulnerability assessments (or even simple
network inventories) of your companies or clients, you really want
to know which mail and DNS servers and versions are
running. Having an accurate version number helps dramatically in
determining which exploits a server is vulnerable to. Version
detection helps you obtain this information.
After TCP and/or UDP ports are discovered using one of the
other scan methods, version detection interrogates those ports to
determine more about what is actually running. The
database contains probes
for querying various services and match expressions to recognize
and parse responses. Nmap tries to determine the service protocol
(e.g. FTP, SSH, Telnet, HTTP), the application name (e.g. ISC
BIND, Apache httpd, Solaris telnetd), the version number,
hostname, device type (e.g. printer, router), the OS family
(e.g. Windows, Linux). When possible, Nmap also gets the
Common Platform Enumeration (CPE)
representation of this information. Sometimes miscellaneous details like
whether an X server is open to connections, the SSH protocol
version, or the KaZaA user name, are available. Of course, most services don't
provide all of this information. If Nmap was compiled with
OpenSSL support, it will connect to SSL servers to deduce the
service listening behind that encryption layer.
Some UDP ports are left in the
open|filtered state after a UDP port scan is
unable to determine whether the port is open or filtered. Version
detection will try to elicit a response from these ports (just as
it does with open ports), and change the state to open if it
open|filtered TCP ports are treated
the same way. Note that the Nmap
enables version detection among other things.
Version detection is described in detail in Chapter 7, Service and Application Version Detection.
When RPC services are discovered, the Nmap RPC
is automatically used to determine the RPC program and version
numbers. It takes all the TCP/UDP ports detected as RPC and floods
them with SunRPC program NULL commands in an attempt to determine
whether they are RPC ports, and if so, what program and version
number they serve up. Thus you can effectively obtain the same info
as rpcinfo -p even if the target's portmapper is
behind a firewall (or protected by TCP wrappers). Decoys do not
currently work with
When Nmap receives responses from a service but cannot match
them to its database, it prints out a special fingerprint and
a URL for you to submit it to if you know for sure what is running
on the port. Please take a couple minutes to make the submission
so that your find can benefit everyone. Thanks to these
submissions, Nmap has about 6,500 pattern matches for more than
650 protocols such as SMTP, FTP, HTTP, etc.
Version detection is enabled and controlled with the
-sV (Version detection)
Enables version detection, as discussed above.
Alternatively, you can use
-A, which enables
version detection among other things.
is an alias for
-sV. Prior to March 2011, it
was used to active the RPC grinder separately from version
detection, but now these options are always combined.
--allports (Don't exclude any ports from
By default, Nmap version detection skips TCP port 9100
because some printers simply print anything sent to that
port, leading to dozens of pages of HTTP GET requests, binary
SSL session requests, etc. This behavior can be changed by
modifying or removing the
you can specify
--allports to scan all
ports regardless of any
version scan intensity)
When performing a version scan (
-sV), Nmap sends a
series of probes, each of which is assigned a rarity value
between one and nine. The lower-numbered probes are effective
against a wide variety of common services, while the higher-numbered
ones are rarely useful. The intensity level
specifies which probes should be applied. The higher the
number, the more likely it is the service will be correctly
identified. However, high intensity scans take longer. The
intensity must be between 0 and 9.
The default is 7.
When a probe is registered to the target port via the
ports directive, that probe is tried
regardless of intensity level. This ensures that the DNS
probes will always be attempted against any open port 53,
the SSL probe will be done against 443, etc.
--version-light (Enable light mode)
This is a convenience alias for
--version-intensity 2. This light mode
makes version scanning much faster, but it is slightly less
likely to identify services.
--version-all (Try every single probe)
An alias for
ensuring that every single probe is attempted against each
--version-trace (Trace version scan activity)
This causes Nmap to print out extensive debugging info
about what version scanning is doing. It is a subset of
what you get with