What is a Port Scan and Why Should it Concern Me?

If you are paying attention to the news at all right now, you have noticed the increase in cyber-attacks around the globe. Cyber-crimes are a hot topic and for a good reason. The threat is terrifying but understanding what is indeed happening is a challenge. Within cyber-crime reporting, keywords are being thrown around, and to understand the dangers, you must first understand a few of the basics. One of the topics you may have heard is port scans. First off, what is a port and why is a port scan a threat?

What are Ports?

In the most basic terms, ports are a highway system where information is transported from one location to another. There are 65535 channels, and some, known as "well-known ports” are assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). For example:

  • Port 20: File Transfer Protocol for data transfer
  • Port 22: Secure Shell protocol for secure logins
  • Port 23: Telnet protocol for unencrypted text communications
  • Port 53: Domain Name System translates names of all computers on the internet
  • Port 80: World Wide Web HTTP

Why are Ports important when it comes to Cyber-crimes?

Since Ports are roadway systems for our data and connect one device/server to another, if not properly secured, they can be an open door to enter your network.

How does a cyber-criminal know if your Ports are not adequately secured thus leaving your entire server/network vulnerable?

They do what is called a Port Scan. A port scan is when a sender sends a “ping” to an individual or group of ports to attempt to receive information about the port and the presence of security devices. This process is commonly referred to as fingerprinting as it gives the sender a unique view of the openness of the port and the status of the security attached to the port and the network.

Some types of scans are logged on the firewall and are easy to detect although the frightening ones cannot be easily discovered and are called stealth scans. Stealth scans allow a sender to receive information about the volatility of your network security and if not properly secured, can lead them down an incredibly easy path to enter your network without you ever knowing any information was given out.

Securing your network and making sure your Ports are secure is a vital step in keeping your information safe. Contact the Pendello team of business technology associates and let them verify how safe your systems are currently running. They have the knowledge and expertise to secure your business and educate your team on how to stay safe.