Network assessments are complete analyses of a company’s network, both from a technical standpoint and for documenting a network.
Network assessments are the backbone of a system deployment or upgrade. Not everyone may agree with that statement, but it depends on your definition of a network assessment. For the sake of argument, let’s take the broad approach.
A network assessment is the analysis of a company’s entire network both physically and on paper. Physically, a network assessment generally is a mapping of your network, connected hardware, open ports, network traffic, and everything going on in between. On paper, a network assessment is a complete plan of a network’s scope, its current and planned size and functionality, and future modifications.
This isn’t an in-depth definition, or a complete one, but it gives us the basic idea of what to look for when performing a network assessment. As far as on paper goes, performing a network assessment can be broken down into documentation and flowcharts. Both are tedious, but both are built to give you a clear organization and map of your network from a high level.
Performing a physical network assessment can be more time consuming, and generally requires a few tools, depending on your budget and needs.
Here are 3 free network assessment tools that won’t cover all of your bases, but will go a long way in helping you assess your network on a basic level:
- WireShark is a network protocol analyzer. It allows you to capture packet information from Ethernet, PPP and VPN interfaces and review it at an incredibly low level. Over the years, it has become the de facto tool across multiple industries for packet capturing and analysis.
- Nmap (Network Mapper) is an open source tool for network discovery and security auditing. It’s flexible design and features also make it a viable tool for network inventorying, monitoring server uptimes, and managing upgrade schedules. It utilizes raw IP packets to determine a wide range of information about a device at a specified IP address (you can also scan a range of IP addresses), including operating system, firewalls, and available hosts.
- Scuba is a network database vulnerability scanner. Containing over 1,200 tests that target the most popular enterprise database products, including Oracle, MSSQL and MySQL, Scuba is a comprehensive automated monitoring tool. It scans for security vulnerabilities and configuration issues, including weak passwords all the way to missing patches.
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