Common Platform Enumeration (CPE)

Common Platform Enumeration (CPE) is a standardized way to name software applications, operating systems, and hardware platforms. Nmap includes CPE output for service and OS detection.

Structure of a CPE Name

A CPE name is a URL that encodes seven ordered fields:


Some of the fields may be left blank, and empty fields may be left off the end of the URL. The main division of CPE names is in the <part> field; this can take on only three values:

a for applications,
h for hardware platforms, or
o for operating systems.

By looking at the beginning of the URL you can easily see that cpe:/a:microsoft:sql_server:6.5 names an application, cpe:/h:asus:rt-n16 names a kind of hardware, and cpe:/o:freebsd:freebsd:3.5.1 names an operating system.

Nmap can output all three kinds of CPE names: OS detection can print h and o; and service detection can potentially output all three. The CPE names are mixed in with normal OS and service output, for example:

Example 13.13. Normal output with CPE highlighted
Running: Linux 2.6.X
OS CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel:2.6.39
OS details: Linux 2.6.39
Network Distance: 10 hops
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:kernel

CPE names for applications (with part a) are not shown in normal output, but they are present in XML. CPE is represented as a cpe element that can be a child of service or osclass.