How to Scan for SMB Vulnerabilities with Nmap

SMB (Server Message Block) is a protocol used by Windows computers to communicate with each other, particularly for file and printer sharing.

It’s vital to ensure this protocol is secure as vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers.

One tool that can help us scan for SMB vulnerabilities is Nmap, a powerful open-source network scanner.

The Ultimate Guide to Scanning for SMB Vulnerabilities

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Nmap to scan for SMB vulnerabilities:

Step 1: Install Nmap

Nmap is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Visit the Nmap download page and choose the appropriate version for your operating system. Follow the instructions for installation.

Step 2: Open Your Terminal or Command Prompt

On Windows, you can open the Command Prompt by searching for ‘cmd’ in the start menu.

On macOS or Linux, you can open the Terminal from your Applications folder.

Step 3: Check Nmap Installation

To confirm that Nmap has been installed correctly, type nmap into your terminal or command prompt and press enter.

If Nmap is installed, you should see a list of command options and syntax.

Step 4: Run an SMB Script Scan

Nmap uses scripts to automate a wide range of networking tasks. For SMB vulnerability scanning, we will use the smb-enum-shares script.

The command is formatted as follows:

nmap --script smb-enum-shares -p445 <target>

Replace <target> with the IP address or range you want to scan. This command will check for SMB shares that are readable and writeable.

Step 5: Analyze the Results

Once the scan is complete, Nmap will present you with the results. The output will list all discovered hosts and any identified SMB shares.

If a share is marked as read or write, it indicates a potential vulnerability that should be addressed.

Step 6: Run a Vulnerability Scan

To check for specific SMB vulnerabilities, you can use the smb-vuln scripts.

For example, to check for the MS17-010 vulnerability (associated with the WannaCry ransomware), use the following command:

nmap --script smb-vuln-ms17-010 -p445 <target>

Again, replace <target> with the IP address you want to scan.

Advanced Tips and Best Practices for SMB Scanning with Nmap

When it comes to scanning SMB vulnerabilities with Nmap, there are several advanced tips and best practices that can help you streamline the process and enhance your network security.

One of the first advanced tips is to use Nmap’s scripting engine to its fullest potential.

Beyond the commonly used scripts like smb-enum-shares or smb-vuln-ms17-010, there are many other scripts available in Nmap’s library that can be utilized to dig deeper into the SMB protocol.

For instance, the ‘smb-os-discovery’ script can provide valuable data about the operating system of a target machine, which can be useful for identifying potential vulnerabilities based on the system’s version.

Another advanced tip is to learn how to use Nmap’s timing options effectively. By adjusting the timing of your scans, you can balance between speed and accuracy.

While faster scans can cover more ground in less time, slower scans are often more accurate and less likely to be detected by intrusion detection systems.

In terms of best practices, it’s essential to always seek permission before conducting any scans. Unauthorized scanning is not only unethical but also illegal in many jurisdictions.

Also, consider scheduling regular scans to keep up with new vulnerabilities that might appear over time. Regular scanning is an effective way to maintain a high level of security, as it allows you to identify and address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Always remember to analyze and act upon the results of your scans. Simply scanning for vulnerabilities is not enough; you need to mitigate any risks identified during the scan. This could mean patching software, updating systems, or changing configurations to secure your network better.

Reporting on SMB Vulnerabilities Discovered with Nmap

The reporting process of Server Message Block (SMB) vulnerabilities discovered by using the popular network exploration and security auditing tool is crucial in maintaining robust network security.

It’s not enough to merely identify vulnerabilities; it’s equally important to document them properly, action them, and prevent future occurrences.

When reporting on identified vulnerabilities, it’s important to be as detailed and clear as possible. The report should contain key information about each vulnerability, such as its location, severity, and potential impact. This can help IT professionals and decision-makers understand the risks and prioritize their response.

One commonly reported SMB vulnerability is the MS17-010, which was actively exploited by WannaCry and Petya ransomware. Reports on such vulnerabilities should not only describe the vulnerability itself but also its potential implications. It’s valuable to include information about known exploits, associated malware, and any patches or workarounds that are available.

Another aspect to consider when reporting is the context of the vulnerabilities. For instance, if a vulnerability is found in older versions of a software, the report should highlight this, encouraging users to update their software to the latest version.

Reports should also include recommendations for mitigating identified vulnerabilities. These could range from technical solutions like patching software, updating systems, or changing configurations, to broader strategies like employee training or policy changes.

Lastly, it’s essential to remember that reporting is not a one-time activity. Regular scanning and reporting can help organizations stay ahead of new vulnerabilities and ensure their networks remain secure.


Remember, Nmap is a powerful tool and should be used responsibly. Always ensure you have permission to scan any network or device.

By regularly scanning your networks for vulnerabilities, you can patch them before they become a security issue.

Nmap’s SMB scripts provide an effective way to automate this process.