Ncat: Your General-Purpose Network Connector
Ncat is a general-purpose command-line tool for reading, writing,
redirecting, and encrypting data across a network. It aims to be
your network Swiss Army
knife, handling a wide variety of security testing and
administration tasks. Ncat is suitable for interactive use or as a
network-connected back end for other tools. Ncat can:
Act as a simple TCP/UDP/SCTP/SSL client for interacting
with web servers, telnet servers, mail servers, and other TCP/IP
network services. Often the best way to understand a service (for
fixing problems, finding security flaws, or testing custom commands)
is to interact with it using Ncat. This lets you you control every character
sent and view the raw, unfiltered responses.
Act as a simple TCP/UDP/SCTP/SSL server for offering
services to clients, or simply to understand what existing clients
are up to by capturing every byte they send.
Redirect or proxy TCP/UDP/SCTP traffic to other ports or
hosts. This can be done using simple redirection (everything sent
to a port is automatically relayed somewhere else you specify in
advance) or by acting as a SOCKS or HTTP proxy so clients
specify their own destinations. In client mode, Ncat can
connect to destinations through a chain of anonymous or
Run on all major operating systems. We distribute
Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X binaries, and Ncat compiles on most
other systems. A trusted tool must be available
whenever you need it, no matter what computer you're
Encrypt communication with SSL, and transport it over IPv4 or IPv6.
Act as a network gateway for execution of system
commands, with I/O redirected to the network. It was designed to work
like the Unix utility cat, but for the
Act as a connection broker, allowing two (or far
more) clients to connect to each other through a third (brokering)
server. This enables multiple machines hidden behind NAT gateways
to communicate with each other, and also enables the simple Ncat
These capabilities become even more powerful and versatile
Ncat is our modern reinvention of the venerable Netcat (nc) tool released by Hobbit in 1996. While Ncat is similar to Netcat in spirit, they don't share any source code. Instead, Ncat makes use of Nmap's well optimized and tested networking
libraries. Compatibility with the original Netcat and some well known variants is maintained
where it doesn't conflict with Ncat's enhancements or cause
usability problems. Ncat adds many capabilities not found in
Hobbit's original nc, including SSL support, proxy connections,
IPv6, and connection brokering.
The original nc contained a simple port
scanner, but we omitted that from Ncat because we have a preferred
tool for that function.
This guide starts with examples of basic Ncat usage, then moves on to more advanced features. Those are followed by practical sections which use examples to demonstrate how Ncat can solve common real-world problems. A few neat Ncat tricks are covered as well.