SecurityDocs: Comment on NetCat Tutorial

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As an alternative to relatively limited TELNET scripts for network “hacking”, Netcat (quite literally UNIX “cat” command over a network) is a simple Linux/Unix/Windows utility which reads and writes data across TCP/UDP/IP port network connections, using TCP or UDP protocol. It is designed to be a reliable "back-end" tool that can be used directly or is easily driven by other programs and scripts. At the same time, it is a feature-rich network debugging and exploration tool, since it can create almost any kind of connection you would need and has several interesting built-in capabilities. “nc" as the actual command line for “Netcat”. LINUX and Windows also has a GUI frontend to the netcat command line application. Netcat’s homepage is:

Netcat Syntax

- “Client” mode - connect to a port outbound to somewhere: nc [-options] hostname port[s] [ports] ...

- “Server” mode - listen (-l flag) on a port for inbound connections from somewhere: nc -l -p port [-options] [hostname] [port]

Note: Most UNIX/LINUX systems require ROOT authority to “listen” on a port less than 1024.

nc -h

nc options:

-e prog program to exec after connect [dangerous!!]

-b allow broadcasts

-g gateway source-routing hop point[s], up to 8

-G num source-routing pointer: 4, 8, 12, ...

-h this list

-i secs delay interval for lines sent, ports scanned

-l listen mode, for inbound connects

-n numeric-only IP addresses, no DNS

-o file hex dump of traffic

-p port local port number

-r randomize local and remote ports

-q secs quit after EOF on stdin and delay of secs

-s addr local source address

-t answer TELNET negotiation

-u UDP mode

-v verbose [use twice to be more verbose]

-w secs timeout for connects and final net reads

-z zero-I/O mode [used for scanning]

port numbers can be individual or ranges: lo-hi [inclusive]

Netcat command examples:

Simple File Transfer

Start two copies of netcat on the same machine locally:

nc -l 1111

Here, using the –l switch, we are able to specify that netcat should go into ‘listen mode’ i.e. to listen on the specified port. Using –p 1111 we are able to specify that we are using port 1111. To summarize, netcat will sit and listen for TCP connections on port 1111 and print any data it receives out to the screen.

In another window we start netcat as:

nc 1111

This will connect to host (Locally) on port 1111.

Window 1:

netcat -l -p 1111

This message was typed in WINDOW1

This message was typed in WINDOW2

Now end communication with ^C (Ctrl-C)

Window 2:

nc 1111

This message was typed in WINDOW1

This message was typed in WINDOW2

Now I'm going to end communication with ^C (Ctrl-C)

This is the most basic use of netcat - using a BASH shell and pipe ‘|’ data to and from netcat, as well as using the redirection (‘>’, ‘>>’, ‘ ................

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