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What is Nmap and why do you need it on your network?

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Nmap, short for Network Mapper, is a free and open source tool used for vulnerability checking, port scanning and, of course, network mapping. Despite being created back in 1997, Nmap remains the gold standard against which all other similar tools, either commercial or open source, are judged.

Nmap has maintained its preeminence because of the large community of developers and coders who help to maintain and update it. The Nmap community reports that the tool, which anyone can get for free, is downloaded several thousand times every week.

Because of its flexible, open source code base, it can be modified to work within most customized or heavily specialized environments. There are distributions of Nmap specific to Windows, Mac and Linux environments, but Nmap also supports less popular or older operating systems like Solaris, AIX or AmigaOS. The source code is available in C, C++, Perl and Python.

The last major update was Nmap 7.90 in October, 2020, which included more than 70 bug fixes and improvements, as well as various build system upgrades and code quality improvements.

What is Zenmap?

To deploy Nmap, users originally had to have some advanced programming skills, or at least know their way around console commands or non-graphical interfaces. That changed recently with the introduction of the Zenmap tool for Nmap, which adds a graphical interface that makes launching the program and analyzing the returned output it generates much more accessible.

Zenmap was created to allow beginners to use the tool. Like Nmap, Zenmap is free and the source code is both open and available to anyone who wants to use or modify it.

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