By Bailey Marshall

Technique: Active Scanning (T1046)
Sub-technique: Network Service Scanning (T1046.003)

In the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, the MITRE ATT&CK framework emerges as a crucial navigational tool, providing security professionals with a comprehensive map to decipher and categorize adversary behavior. Within this intricate framework, one of the keystones is the Reconnaissance phase, a foundational step where attackers meticulously gather intelligence about their target. The effectiveness of subsequent cyber operations often hinges on the success of this initial information-gathering endeavor.

The Crucial Role of Reconnaissance: A Deep Dive into MITRE ATT&CK

As defined by MITRE ATT&CK, Reconnaissance involves systematically collecting information about the target environment. This phase is about identifying vulnerabilities and understanding the target’s infrastructure, security posture, and potential points of entry.

Active Scanning as a Cornerstone Technique

Active Scanning stands out as a prominent technique within the Reconnaissance phase. In this method, attackers take an assertive approach by actively sending packets to the target network, probing for open ports and vulnerabilities. This multifaceted phase encompasses various sub-techniques, and one particularly noteworthy example is Network Service Scanning (T1046.003) within the MITRE ATT&CK framework.

Network Service Scanning involves systematically scanning the target’s network for active services and open ports. This information is invaluable for attackers as it unveils potential weak points and entryways into the target’s infrastructure. The more comprehensive the scanning, the more detailed the adversary’s map of the target becomes.

Tools of the Trade: Nmap in Action

Command-line tools like Nmap play a pivotal role in executing Active Scanning. Nmap, short for Network Mapper, is a versatile and powerful open-source tool that allows attackers to discover hosts and services on a computer network, creating a detailed “map” of the target environment.

Command: nmap -sP target_ip

 Here, the ‘-sP’ flag indicates a ping scan, where Nmap sends ICMP Echo Request messages to potential target hosts, identifying active hosts on the network. The result is a comprehensive list of active hosts, forming the foundation for further exploration and possible exploitation.

 Additional Active Scanning Tools:

 Masscan: A high-speed, parallel port scanner used for large-scale active scanning.

 Command: masscan -p80,443 target_ip

 ZMap: A fast single-packet network scanner designed explicitly for Internet-wide network surveys.

 Command: zmap -p 80 target_ip

Want to learn more? Check out PEN-200!