Port scans can seem innocent at first, but they’re a glimpse into your computer’s vulnerabilities.
They’re an easy first step in potential port scan attacks, so learning to defend against them and set up basic security protocols is important. Keep reading to find out exactly what port scan attacks are, and how to protect against them.
1. What is Port Scanning?
A port scan is fairly simple; it’s the equivalent of knocking on doors to see if anyone is home. It helps determine which ports on a network are open (ports are where your computer transmits and receives information). Port scanning is relatively innocent in and of itself, as it can be used to test a network’s security and the strength of its firewall.
2. Why it’s Used in Attacks
While port scanning is helpful to know whether your network is strong or at risk of attack, it can also be used by cyber attackers to reveal whether there are security devices like firewalls between them and your computer’s port. This gives them valuable information on weak points of access when looking to initiate port scan attacks.
3. How to Defend Against Attacks
JumpFactor who consults with IT & cyber security experts suggests that your first step in defending your computer against port scan attacks is to determine what attackers would see or find out once they ran a port scan against you. There are safe tools out there that can allow you to run a scan against your own ports and find out what information comes back.
You may see some ports that are open, in which case you should find out if those ports actually need to be accessed from outside your network; if not, block or close them down, but if yes, there are patches you can apply to protect them.
There are also ways to slow attackers so that they lose interest and move onto easier port scan attacks. By redirecting attackers from your open ports to empty hosts using a firewall, the attack suddenly becomes much more time-consuming and difficult, which can thwart many attacks.
You can also configure your firewalls to set rules in place to automatically defend your computer. By identifying potentially malicious behaviour such as ten port scans in one minute, it can then cut off attacks in real time.
Port scan attacks are one of the most popular cyber-attack techniques, because of how simple and effective they are. While it’s not inherently hostile, it’s the first step in accessing your computer’s vulnerable spots and can be potentially quite dangerous for your information and security. Learning to prevent these port scan attacks (and prevent weak spots from occurring in the first place) and contingency planning is important and well worth the effort if you want to protect your cybersecurity.