Comparing Results

It is a common desire to run the same scan twice at different times, or run two slightly different scans at the same time, and see how they differ. Zenmap provides an interface for comparing scan results, shown in Figure 12.16. Open the comparison tool by selecting Compare Results from the Tools menu or by using the ctrl+D (think diff) keyboard shortcut. Zenmap supports comparing two scan results at a time.

Figure 12.16. Comparison tool
Comparison tool

The first step in performing a comparison is selecting two scans to compare, which are called the A scan and the B scan. The combo boxes allow you to choose from open scans. Or click the Open buttons to get scan results from a file. To compare results from the recent scans database, you must first open those scans using the search interface (see the section called “Searching Saved Results”).

The order of the two scans matters. Comparison is always done from the A scan to the B scan, regardless of the times recorded in the files. Once the two results have been chosen the comparison begins immediately. Figure 12.17 shows a comparison between two scans of several Internet hosts, run a few days apart.

Figure 12.17. Comparison output
Comparison output

The diff output resembles Nmap's output. Each line is preceded by ‘ ’, ‘-’, or ‘+’, indicating that some piece of information was unchanged, removed, or added respectively. Color coding also indicates differences; red for deletion and green for addition.

The engine underlying Zenmap's comparison function is Ndiff, a non-graphical tool distributed with Nmap. Ndiff runs on any platform that Zenmap runs on. If you have installed the ndiff executable somewhere other than its default location, you may have to modify the nmap_command_path variable in the [paths] section of zenmap.conf to point to it.