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There are various services that you use on a network (ie email, http, etc) and each of these services have a dedicated "port" which they access. If you leave any of these ports open when they are not being used, then you leave a security hole.
To find these holes for securing them, or exploiting them, the hacking community developed port scanners. These programs look through the set of possible ports, and report which ones are accessable.
These tools are used for making your network more secure. This list currently favours Linux based tools.
Commersial scanners for linux:
NEWS 2002/04: There is a possibility that a lot of security hardening tools will be made illegal by a poorly drafted E.U. law. Aimed at protecting the intellectual property of pay tv operators, this proposed law is so broad in it's definitions that it means that only the crackers will have access to hacking tools, preventing everyone else from using the same tools to harden their systems by virtue of making the posession of these tools illegal.
last modified 02:26 2003/08/14