Two weeks ago in part 2 of the indispensables series I made mention of a network scanning app called iNet Network Scanner. I’ve used this app on my Mac for years and love it, but it also comes in two iOS versions, which I’ve only begun using recently.
After that mention I thought it worthwhile to take a deeper look at how iNet Network Scanner works and why it’s worth your while to to grab one or all versions of this app.
Know your network
Understanding your network and the devices connected to that network is one of the keys to understanding your network needs and your network vulnerabilities. iNet Network Scanner helps you gat a handle on your network by quickly scanning the range of IP address defined by your Mac’s IP address and subnet mask. By default the app sorts devices based upon their IP address, but you can also sort by device name or vendor.
The app’s initial scan gathers information from each device on your network, gets its IP and MAC addresses, checks to see if it responds to a ping, and checks to see what kinds of services are being offered by the device. So, when connecting to your router you see information about its make and model, if its an Apple AirPort, whether or note it responded to a ping, routs network traffic and is a gateway for traffic routed out to the Internet.
Regarding AirPorts, if you have any model older than the current 2013 version or an AirPort Express, iNet Network Scanner can provide information about the AirPort, the kind of traffic it’s passing and the number and names of the devices connected to it. And for those connected devices you can see what the signal and noise level for a selected device, which can give you guidance on the placement of AirPort hardware in your home or office.
You may recall from our series on Profile Manager that it was possible to import devices into Profile Manager as placeholders for devices once they’re enrolled in the service. Once iNet Network Scanner has gathered information on all your network devices you can rename those devices and then export a CSV file that can then be imported into Profile Manager. This file can also be used to gather inventory information and verify that there are no unauthorized devices on your network.
Manage your network
In addition to scanning for network devices, iNet Network Scanner will scan for Bonjour services being offered on the next work and allows you to view those services by device. Want to know how many of the computers on your network are offering some kind of Bonjour print service? Use the app’s Bonjour scanner to see what devices are offering up the Internet Printing Protocol.
You can also scan ports on every device in your network to see if some device has ports open you weren’t expecting it to or doesn’t have ports open you were expecting it to. In short, iNet Network Scanner gives you good guidance into every device on your network.
Network troubleshooting PSA
One note about network troubleshooting: Firewalls, when troubleshooting, are not your friend. Especially when the firewall isn’t responding to ICMP traffic like pings and port scans.
If you’re using Apple’s built-in Network Utility or the command line to see if a device is alive, firewalls will often keep you from seeing if a device is active on the network, even if it is.
Turn off firewalls when troubleshooting networks. This also highlights an additional iNet Network Scanner benefit: It can still see devices with firewalls using Stealth mode and it will still let you know which ports are open and which ones aren’t. A huge benefit when it seems some computer is lost at sea in your network.