Masscan has been around for some time now and already it’s in use by pentesters all around. It’s a reconnaissance tool which can transmit up to 10 million packets per second. It uses asynchronous transmission & a custom TCP/IP stack. So different threads are used for transmission & reception of packets.
Masscan can be used to enumerate a large number of hosts very quickly. In fact, the author of the tool claims it can scan the whole internet within 6 minutes. It can be used for stress testing also due to its high transmission rate.
But special drivers(PF_RING) & NICs are needed to achieve those high rates. One aspect which makes this a convenient tool is that it interacts with the user very similarly to the style of nmap.
- Ultra Fast port scanning: Transmits up to 10M packets/sec ( Capable- NIC & PF_RING Drivers required)
- Nmap style output
- Nmap style target specification and options
- Banner grabbing
- Basic Vulnerability Scanning like Heartbleed
- Custom TCP/IP stack
- It can be used as a first level recon tool to map the network
- Enumerate a large no of hosts
- Enumerate various subnets inside an organization
- Enumerating the internet!
- Random scanning for FUN & Knowledge!
This tutorial is organized into the following lab sections
- Scan Google IPs, Banner grabbing from Google IP range & output options
- Pausing & Resuming the scan
- Exclude specific Addresses & Misc options
- Putting all together in the custom configuration
Lab 1: Selftest
In this lab, we test whether the installation of masscan is proper. In case you are not on the latest kali or masscan is not installed, refer to the homepage of the tool
Command: masscan --regres
The above will test whether the installation is proper.
Now we will test the performance also.
Command: masscan 0.0.0.0/4 -p80 --rate 100 --offline
This will scan whole IP address subnets but without going into the internet. This won’t produce any worthy results but see the time required for the scan when the rate is 100 packets/sec.
Now increase the rate gradually to 1000, 100000 one at a time and see how much your network & system can perform. Compare the times required for all.
Command: masscan 0.0.0.0/4 -p80 --rate 10000000 --offline
Note: Don’t forget to include the –offline option or else you will be screwed.
Lab 2: Scan Google IPs, Grab Banners & Output Results
In this lab, we scan a range of publically available google IPs. First, we find out what IP does google resolves to and then we perform a port scan on the particular range on ports 80 & 443.
Command: host google.com
This gives the IP of google.com web server. This might differ depending on the location you are in.
Next, we substitute the IP found with its range.
For eg: If the IP we obtained is 22.214.171.124, we use 126.96.36.199/24 to scan IPs 188.8.131.52-254
Command: masscan 184.108.40.206/24 -p80,443
This is the most basic scanning operation in masscan. You can use this to scan any IPs. Instead of giving the subnet value, you can give IP range(220.127.116.11-50) like you would give in nmap.
Now we attempt to grab banners from the IPs we scan. For this, we may come across an issue. Since masscan uses custom stack the OS may reject the packet. This is well explained in the home page of the tool. SO for now we need to specify a separate IP address in the same subnet.
For now, My kali has IP address 192.168.1.4. So we need to specify a source IP in the 192.168.1.0/24 range.
Command: masscan 18.104.22.168<replace with tour target IP> -p 80,443 --banners --source-ip 192.168.1.200
You can specify IP range also.
Next, we save the results into files. This is very similar to that of nmap.
Command: masscan 22.214.171.124/24<replace with yours> -p80,443 --output-format=xml --output-filename=google.xml<replace with yours>
Or Else, we can simply specify “-ox”
Command: masscan 126.96.36.199/24 -p80,443 -oX google.xml
For analysis of this information import this file to any spreadsheet packages like Excel or LibreOffice Calc.
Lab 3: Pausing & Resuming a Scan
Suppose you have a very big subnet to scan and you need to pause the scan for some other purposes, masscan automatically pauses the scan when you do a “Cntrl + C”. Also, you can resume from it whenever you want.
Command: masscan 188.8.131.52/16<replace with yours> -p22,23,80,443<replace with the ports you want> -v --rate=1000 -oX output.xml
Command: masscan --resume paused.conf
As a fun and informational part, visualize the traffic while scanning to see the underground mayhem.
I have installed Etherape in kali to visualize. You can use Wireshark or any other visualizers.
However, if you have multiple scans or different scans which required to be paused, it creates a clash. So after you pause, make sure to rename the file or to run different instances in different folders.
Once the scan is finished, you can import the XML to some spreadsheet packages to perform an analysis.
Lab 4: Exclude specific Addresses & Misc options
In this section, we try out the –exclude option and some other misc options.
The –exclude option is very much necessary and important. When you are scanning an organization’s network, there might be some IPs/ranges you are not permitted to scan. More importantly, when scanning the internet, you may not want to scan army/ defense websites, government websites etc.
For this demo, I scanned my own public IP address range excluding my IP alone.
Command: masscan 184.108.40.206/16 --exclude=220.127.116.11 -p22,23,80,443
Now lets look into some of the misc options:
You can run multiple instances of masscan for the same range of IPs. When you split the scan into multiple instances, the IPs which are being scanned are separated on the basis of an index number. For example, If you are running 3 instances, the first instance would scan the IPs with index 0, second instance would scan IPs with index 1 & the third would scan IPs with index 3. This feature makes sure that IPs are not overlapped and duplicated in 2 scanning instances. You can even run different instances on different machines also. Below is a small demo:
|Attacker 1||Kali Linux||192.168.1.4|
|Attacker 2||Kali Linux||192.168.1.5|
Syntax: masscan <target> <ports> --shards x/y where x = ID of current instance y = Total number of instances Attacker 1 Command: masscan 18.104.22.168/16 --rate=1 -p80,443 --shards 1/2 Attacker 2 Command: masscan 22.214.171.124/16 --rate=1 -p80,443 --shards 2/2
This option includes an ICMP Echo request also with the scan
Syntax: masscan <target> <ports> --ping
This specifies the rate( in packets-per-second) at which the scan is to be performed. The author claims a range of 0.1(1 packet per 10 secs) to 10000000 (10 Million packets per second) and higher. Also the author claims he achieved following rates in respective OS(s)
Windows = 250000 (250 Thousand Packets per sec) Unix = 2500000 (2.5 M Packets per sec)
However, if you want to go beyond that, you need an Intel 10 gbps adapter & PF_Ring driver. The author has described in the homepage .
Links to Adapter & PF_RING:
Syntax: masscan <target> <ports> --rate=x<rate at which you want to scan>
The adapter & IP address to use in case of multiple adapters.
Syntax: masscan <target> <ports> --adapter-ip <ipaddress>
This option specifies the source port from which the packets are to be transmitted. The default range is 40000-60000
Syntax: masscan <target> <ports> --adapter-port <port/port-range>
Note: the port range should total to an even power of 2. In above example, 5000 – 5127. So the total of 1028 ports are used including port 5000
Yes, of course, UDP scanning is available in masscan. You can run a UDP scan by just adding a “U” while specifying the ports.
Syntax: masscan <target> -pU:<port>
Lab 5: Putting all together in a custom configuration
Now it’s time we put all the options together in 1 single config file. Writing a config file for masscan is very straightforward. Following are some of the points to note:
- The “–” before the option is not necessary & needs “=” after options
- For options which don’t need a value(–banners) use option = true
- As always, “#” for comments
To run masscan with a config, simply use “-c” option
Command: masscan -c config
Here is a sample configuration file which sums up all that we discussed in this lengthy tutorial
# Adapter adapter-ip = 10.108.51.130 adapter-port = 5000-5127 rate = 10.00 shard = 1/1 # Targets retries = 2 ports = 80,443,U:53,U:161 range = 126.96.36.199/16 exclude = 188.8.131.52 exclude-file /root/masscan-exclusion.list #Output Options output-format = xml show = open output-filename = google.xml # Scan Options banners = true ping = true
Masscan is infact a very powerful recon tool with a known style of syntax & output options. Masscan can be used to enumerate large no of hosts in the beginning stages of a Pentest & using those results we can proceed to service detection using Nmap or proceed to vulnerability scanning using your favorite tool. Anyway, masscan is a fun tool to work with as it can produce results very quickly. But be extremely careful when scanning into the public. Use this tool wisely or you may land in jail and I will not be responsible.
Anyway, hope you learned something from this tutorial. If you did please share this article as this took a lot of my time & energy to create a tutorial of such detail. Also, share your feedback on this.