If you're going to use Nmap to scan your customer's network, chances are that you'll run it on Linux. This tip provides value-added resellers (VARs) and consultants with best practices to make network security more bulletproof through Nmap, an open source security tool
Linux users can choose between a source code install or the use of binary packages, such as RPM, provided by their distribution. A source install allows more flexibility in determining how Nmap is built and optimized for your system. Binary packages are generally quicker and easier to install, and are often customized to use the distribution's standard directory paths and configuration. These packages also allow for simpler management when it comes to issues such as upgrading software on the system. The Nmap package contains just the command-line executable and data files, while the Nmap-front end package contains the optional X-Window GUI called NmapFE.
Compiling and installing Nmap from source code is the most powerful way to install it. This ensures that you have the latest version, and Nmap can adapt to the library availability and directory structure of your particular system. The build system is designed to auto-detect as much as possible, but as there are dozens of command-line parameters and environmental variables that affect the way Nmap is built, I recommend running ./configure to view the help.
Installing Nmap via RPM is also quite easy, but if you do have problems, for example if your library versions are sufficiently different from those the RPMs were initially built on, you can build and install your own binary RPMs from the source RPMs.
Read more about how VARs and consultants can configure Nmap on Linux.
Michael Cobb, CISSP-ISSAP is the founder and managing director of Cobweb Applications Ltd., a consultancy that offers IT training and support in data security and analysis. He co-authored the book IIS Security and has written numerous technical articles for leading IT publications. Mike is the guest instructor for SearchSecurity's Web Security School and, as a SearchSecurity.com site expert, answers user questions on application and platform security.
This tip originally appeared on SearchSecurity.com.
This was first published in December 2006