Nmap vs Masscan - Which One is Better?

Nmap and Masscan both are port scanner tools. Both tools are used in engagement of penetration testing. Refer to articles on Nmap and Masscan to learn more about both tools. This blog provides a list of features of both tools and tries to identify the better tool.

Installation - Masscan

sudo apt-get --assume-yes install git make gcc
git clone https://github.com/robertdavidgraham/masscan
cd masscan
make
make install

Installation - Nmap

sudo apt-get install nmap

Details of Nmap and Masscan

FeatureNmapMasscan
Main FunctionPort Scanning of a small networkPort Scanning of large network
Supported Protocols FTP, HTTP, IMAP4, memcached, POP3, SMTP, SSH, SSL, SMBv1, SMBv2, Telnet, RDP, VNC FTP, HTTP, IMAP4, memcached, POP3, SMTP, SSH, SSL, SMBv1, SMBv2, Telnet, RDP, VNC
IPv4 Scan Support Available Available
IPv6 Scan Support Available Available
Speed Speed is configurable by using -T option.Speed is configurable. Although able to transmit10 million packets per second from a single machine.
Default scanAvailable - Nmap scan top portsMust specify scan ports to initiate scan
Syntaxnmap <IP>masscan -p0-65535 <IP>
Scan ScriptsAvailable - huge database availableNot Available

How to scan the entire Internet with Masscan

masscan 0.0.0.0/0 -p0-65535

List of additional Nmap compatible settings

masscan --nmap

Conclusion

Both tools are used to identify open ports of the IT system. Open ports are further assessed for vulnerabilities. Although Nmap is a more mature tool and much more options to assess targets. Masscan is a tool basically used for fast scan of large no of targets. Nmap provide huge set of scripts to identify general vulnerabilites based on open ports and services. This blog list out featues available in both tools and also help in identify which tool is better for engagements in security assessments.

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Disclaimer: This tutorial is for educational purpose only. Individual is solely responsible for any illegal act.

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