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IP address management tools for you network in 2021

Article exploring network scanners and tools to perform IP address management

Updated: November 16, 2021 By Ozair Malik

Image showing a local network of different devices connected to the Internet

Image source – unsplash.com

Do you know what sucks? What company is being ranked as one of the largest United States corporations and still facing cyber-attacks? Microsoft! On March 2nd, 2021, a Chinese hacker organization, Hafnium, attacked Microsoft.

According to Adair, the founder of a cybersecurity company called Volexity, there was a massive hack into Microsoft Exchange, which is considered one of the world's most popular email software programs.

This cyber-attack affected more than 30,000 organizations in the United States, including local governments and federal agencies.

Hearing about incidents like this one makes me wonder how important network security is.

However, suppose I told you that by following a couple of simple steps and using free tools. In that case, you can maintain good network health and prevent unauthorized users from snooping or wasting valuable bandwidth, would you believe me? If not, keep reading!

You know how they rightly say that "a stitch in time saves nine". I'm here to show you how IP address scanners help track all the devices within a network and, thus, detect possible breaches by identifying when IP addresses have been mislabeled or misallocated.

What is network scanning?

At this point, you might be thinking, how will you be able to navigate all the devices on your Network? To answer your question, I would like to define network scanning, a broad term that could be defined in many ways.

Network scanning is a process that allows you to gather information about all the active devices on your Network. Thus, network administrators can identify existing loopholes and vulnerabilities by network scanning and reduce security risks.

The following list shows the purpose of network scanning:

  • Discover available UDP and TCP services on networks
  • Determine the operating systems (OSs) in use by analyzing IP responses
  • Recognize filtering systems between the users and all the active hosts
  • Determine sequence prediction attack and TCP spoofing

Why has network scanning become a need of the hour?

According to the latest research, approximately 75.44 billion devices will have internet connection by 2025, and this number will keep increasing with time. Although there is no harm in increasing IoT devices, this increase has made networking more complex.

While some people are aware of the potential susceptibilities within a local network, some fail to recognize the security risks the increase in these devices causes. Be it in a local company or a multinational corporate, data breaches have increased over time.

Hence, all the network administrators must be aware of network scanning and IP address management to secure confidential data and save their company from financial and reputational losses.

How to scan a network manually?

A manual network scan is a simple way of finding all the IP addresses on a network. This method is suitable for network administrators of smaller organizations who have a manageable device list.

To carry out a manual network scan, you need to follow these three simple steps:

  • ipconfig

The first, you must open the command prompt and enter ipconfig for Mac and Windows or ifconfig on Linux. This command shows all network settings assigned to the adapters in the computer and allows you to find helpful information such as your IP, gateway address, etc. Thus, this step helps you in determining the network number you'll be scanning.

Screenshot of CMD showing results of ipconfig command

  • arp –a

The second step is to input the command arp –a. This command shows all the active IP addresses connected to the local Network. This list contains all the IP-address-to-mac conversion, and the allocation type (whether static or dynamic) of all the devices in your Network is advantageous.

Screenshot of CMD showing arp-a command

  • ping

This step is optional, but if you input the command ping-t, it will allow you to test connectivity and latency within a network by performing an extended ping on the list produced by the previous command. Thus, it will enable you to focus on the devices which might be experiencing or causing problems.

Screenshot of CMD showing the result of "ping www.cooltechzone.com

How to scan a network manually on Linux?

Network administrators can perform network scanning on Linux Operating System by using a command which is Nmap. It is regarded as an excellent tool for scanning local networks and offers many insights such as IP addresses, Operating System versions, etc.

However, Nmap is not installed on Linux devices by default, so it must be installed first. To install Nmap and perform a manual network scan, you need to follow these simple steps:

  • Search terminal in the Activities tab
  • When the terminal icon appears, you must click on it to launch it
  • In the terminal application, issue the following command to install Nmap:
sudo apt-get install Nmap –y
  • After installation, you are ready to scan your LAN with Nmap.
  • Change the IP address scheme to match yours and then issue the following command to find out what IP addresses are in use:
nmap -sP 192.168.1.0/24
  • The output of this command will show you all the IP addresses found on your LAN.
  • If you need to find out the Operating System version, you can use the options -sT (TCP connect scan) and -O (Operating System discovery).

To do this, issue the command:

sudo nmap -sT -O 192.168.1.0/24
  • The time taken by the command varies with the network size. For large networks, consider sending the output of the command to a file like:
sudo nmap -sT -O 192.168.1.0/24 > nmap_output
  • A file with a text editor will be prompted, and you can use it to find out what operating system is attached to an IP address.

Top 3 Network Scanning tools 2021

Although the manual network scan might look like an easy process to scan networks, it is not feasible in large organizations in which dynamic IP addresses are used. In such cases, a large number of connected devices and staggered changes become impossible to track manually.

Thus, in such cases, the need for IP address scanners arises as these tools allow the admins to navigate which addresses are active, which are free for reallocation, which might belong to unapproved users, and which have perhaps been duplicated or misapplied.

Therefore, here we have provided a list of the three best network scanners of 2021:

ManageEngine OpUtils (Editor's choice)

ManageEngine OpUtils is our top pick for IP address tracking and network scanning as it can scan networks across different subnets, routers, and switch ports and efficiently identify and troubleshoot network issues.

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of admin login interface

Features of ManageEngine OpUtils

It scans IPv6 and IPv4 subnets to detect the utilized IP addresses and offers scalability with support for multiple subnets.

It enhances network security by detecting rogue devices and generates threshold-based alerts rising initial problems.

It allows you to track your Network's bandwidth usage and generate various bandwidth utilization reports that can be used to conduct network audits.

It also schedules CISCO config file backups for downloading or uploading and compares other versions of the running and startup configuration files.

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of main Dashboard interface

Scanning network using ManageEngine OpUtils

Follow these simple steps to perform a network scan with ManageEngine OpUtils:

  • First of all, open your Settings and then choose Tools
  • From Tools, open Network Monitoring and then finally click on Network Scanner
  • The input to the Network Scanner tool can be a combination of the following. Click Add IP and choose:
  1. IP Range: In the text field provided, enter the Starting IP and Ending IP and click Add. The specified range will be added to the table below
  2. IP List: Enter the IP Addresses as comma-separated values and click Add

If you specify a range like 192.168.113.1-10, 192.168.21-20, it will be added to the table below

  • According to your requirement, choose an option to scan from the four options listed below:
  1. Ping Scan: This scan will help you in identifying the device availability through ICMP
  2. SNMP Scan: This scan will help you in identifying the device availability by using SNMP
  3. The community string specified in the settings will be used
  4. MAC Address Scan: This scan will help you in identifying the MAC addresses of the devices
  5. DNS Scan: This scan will help you to check the forward and reverse lookup actions
  • Click Scan.
  • The scan results will be updated in the table below, depending on your options for the scan. You will also find a summary of each scan as a graph at the top of the table.

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of Networking Tool interface

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of Networking Tool interface showing Scan options

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of Networking Tool interface showing Add IP panel

ManageEngine OpUtils screenshot of Networking Tool interface showing Scan results of entered IP address

SolarWinds Port Scanner

SolarWinds Port Scanner is a very suitable tool for scanning IP addresses in your Network. This tool can be installed on Windows Server.

It searches for all addresses within a given range and identifies which addresses are active. Then it examines which ports on each device are active.

It uses multi-threading for high-speed searches. Scans can be run through a graphical user interface (GUI) or the command line. This tool is free of cost, and you don't have to invest a dime on this great product!

Advanced IP Scanner

Advanced IP Scanner is also a free and reliable tool that is very easy to use and has over 60 million users. It is designed for Windows operating systems, including Windows 10.

One of its key features is that it allows you to control devices and switch them on and off remotely through the remote desktop protocol (RDP) and Radmin, another software product developed by Famatech.

It provides fast network scanning and does not require installation. After scanning, it provides a report containing each device's responses and other valuable insights like MAC address, hostname, etc.

Conclusion

In conclusion of the facts listed above, we have understood that network security should not be taken for granted.

Data breaches can cause a lot of financial and reputational loss to local and multinational organizations.

Thus, all network administrators must use specific network scanners to reduce security risks and be aware of the best IP Address Managers to maintain the security of their Network.

Was my guide helpful to you? Dear readres, tell us about your impressions in the comments!

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Technology
Author
Ozair Malik
A passionate Cyber Security researcher and writer with a keen interest in Digital Forensics. A community worker running a insta blog to raise cybersecurity awareness among laymen.

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