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A scan (also called a probe) is

an activity that seeks to access or identify a computer, its open ports, protocols, services, or any combination of these for later exploitation. A "scan" does not directly result in a compromise or denial of service.

A scan is "simply a large number of probes done using an automated tool.[1]


"Scans can sometimes be the result of a misconfiguration or other error, but they are often a prelude to a more directed attack on systems that the intruder has found to be vulnerable."[2]


  1. US-CERT,"Security of the Internet" (full-text).
  2. Id.