MASSCAN - Mass IP Port Scanner

MASSCAN is an Internet port scanner. It can scan the entire Internet in under 6 minutes, transmitting 10 million packets per second.

It produces results similar to "nmap", the most famous port scanner. Internally, it operates more like "scanrand", "unicornscan", and "ZMap", using asynchronous transmission. The major difference is that it's faster than these other scanners. In addition, it's more flexible, allowing arbitrary address ranges and port ranges.

It uses a custom TCP/IP stack. Anything other than simple port scans will cause conflict with the local TCP/IP stack. This means you need to either use the -S option to use a separate IP address or configure your operating system to firewall the ports that MASSCAN uses.

This program spews out packets very fast. On Windows, or from VMs, it can do 300,000 packets/second. On Linux (no virtualization) it'll do 1.6 million packets-per-second. That's fast enough to melt most networks.

Note that it'll only melt your own network. It randomizes the target IP addresses so that it shouldn't overwhelm any distant network.

By default, the rate is set to 100 packets/second. To increase the rate to a million use something like --rate 1000000.


On Debian/Ubuntu, it goes something like this:
$ sudo apt-get install git gcc make libpcap-dev
$ git clone
$ cd masscan
$ make
This puts the program in the masscan/bin subdirectory. You'll have to manually copy it to something like /usr/local/bin if you want to install it elsewhere on the system.

The source consists of a lot of small files, so building goes a lot faster by using the multi-threaded build:
$ make -j
While Linux is the primary target platform, the code runs well on many other systems. Here's some additional build info:
  • Windows w/ Visual Studio: use the VS10 project
  • Windows w/ MingGW: just type make
  • Windows w/ cygwin: won't work
  • Mac OS X /w XCode: use the XCode4 project
  • Mac OS X /w cmdline: just type make
  • FreeBSD: type gmake

To get beyond 2 million packets/second, you need an Intel 10-gbps Ethernet adapter and a special driver known as "PF_RING ZC". MASSCAN doesn't need to be rebuilt in order to use PF_RING. To use PF_RING, you need to build the following components:
  • (installed in /usr/lib/
  • pf_ring.ko (their kernel driver)
  • ixgbe.ko (their version of the Intel 10-gbps Ethernet driver)

You don't need to build their version of

When MASSCAN detects that an adapter is named something like zc:enp1s0 instead of something like enp1s0, it'll automatically switch to PF_RING ZC mode.

Regression Testing

The project contains a built-in self-test:
$ make regress
bin/masscan --regress
selftest: success!
This tests a lot of tricky bits of the code. You should do this after building.

Performance Testing

To test performance, run something like the following:
$ bin/masscan -p80 --rate 100000000 --router-mac 66-55-44-33-22-11
The bogus --router-mac keeps packets on the local network segments so that they won't go out to the Internet.

You can also test in "offline" mode, which is how fast the program runs without the transmit overhead:
$ bin/masscan -p80 --rate 100000000 --offline
This second benchmark shows roughly how fast the program would run if it were using PF_RING, which has near zero overhead.


Usage is similar to nmap. To scan a network segment for some ports:
# masscan -p80,8000-8100
This will scan the 10.x.x.x subnet, all 16 million addresses, scan port 80 and the range 8000 to 8100, or 102 addresses total, and print output to <stdout> that can be redirected to a file.

To see the complete list of options, use the --echo feature. This dumps the current configuration and exits. This output can be used as input back into the program:
# masscan -p80,8000-8100 --echo > xxx.conf
# masscan -c xxx.conf --rate 1000

Banner Checking

MASSCAN can do more than just detect whether ports are open. It can also complete the TCP connection and interaction with the application at that port in order to grab simple "banner" information.

The problem with this is that MASSCAN contains its own TCP/IP stack separate from the system you run it on. When the local system receives a SYN-ACK from the probed target, it responds with a RST packet that kills the connection before MASSCAN can grab the banner.

The easiest way to prevent this is to assign MASSCAN a separate IP address. This would look like the following:
# masscan -p80 --banners --source-ip
The address you choose has to be on the local subnet and not otherwise be used by another system.

In some cases, such as WiFi, this isn't possible. In those cases, you can firewall the port that MASSCAN uses. This prevents the local TCP/IP stack from seeing the packet, but MASSCAN still sees it since it bypasses the local stack. For Linux, this would look like:
# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 60000 -j DROP
# masscan -p80 --banners --source-port 60000
On Mac OS X and BSD, it might look like this:
# sudo ipfw add 1 deny tcp from any to any 60000 in
# masscan -p80 --banners --source-port 60000
Windows doesn't respond with RST packets, so neither of these techniques are necessary. However, MASSCAN is still designed to work best using its own IP address, so you should run that way when possible, even when it's not strictly necessary.

The same thing is needed for other checks, such as the --heartbleed check, which is just a form of banner checking.

How To Scan the Entire Internet

While useful for smaller, internal networks, the program is really designed with the entire Internet in mind. It might look something like this:
# masscan -p0-65535
Scanning the entire Internet is bad. For one thing, parts of the Internet react badly to being scanned. For another thing, some sites track scans and add you to a ban list, which will get you firewalled from useful parts of the Internet. Therefore, you want to exclude a lot of ranges. To blacklist or exclude ranges, you want to use the following syntax:
# masscan -p0-65535 --excludefile exclude.txt
This just prints the results to the command-line. You probably want them saved to a file instead. Therefore, you want something like:
# masscan -p0-65535 -oX scan.xml
This saves the results in an XML file, allowing you to easily dump the results in a database or something.

But, this only goes at the default rate of 100 packets/second, which will take forever to scan the Internet. You need to speed it up as so:
# masscan -p0-65535 --max-rate 100000
This increases the rate to 100,000 packets/second, which will scan the entire Internet (minus excludes) in about 10 hours per port (or 655,360 hours if scanning all ports).

The thing to notice about this command-line is that these are all nmap compatible options. In addition, "invisible" options compatible with nmap are also set for you: -sS -Pn -n --randomize-hosts --send-eth. Likewise, the format of the XML file is inspired by nmap. There are, of course, a lot of differences, because the asynchronous nature of the program leads to a fundamentally different approach to the problem.

The above command-line is a bit cumbersome. Instead of putting everything on the command-line, it can be stored in a file instead. The above settings would look like this:
# My Scan
rate =  100000.00
output-format = xml
output-status = all
output-filename = scan.xml
ports = 0-65535
range =
excludefile = exclude.txt
To use this configuration file, use the -c:
# masscan -c myscan.conf
This also makes things easier when you repeat a scan.

By default, MASSCAN first loads the configuration file /etc/masscan/masscan.conf. Any later configuration parameters override what's in this default configuration file. That's where I put my "excludefile" parameter, so that I don't ever forget it. It just works automatically.


By default, MASSCAN produces fairly large text files, but it's easy to convert them into any other format. There are five supported output formats:
  1. xml: Just use the parameter -oX <filename>. Or, use the parameters --output-format xml and --output-filename <filename>.
  2. binary: This is the MASSCAN builtin format. It produces much smaller files, so that when I scan the Internet my disk doesn't fill up. They need to be parsed, though. The command line option --readscan will read binary scan files. Using --readscan with the -oX option will produce a XML version of the results file.
  3. grepable: This is an implementation of the Nmap -oG output that can be easily parsed by command-line tools. Just use the parameter -oG <filename>. Or, use the parameters --output-format grepable and --output-filename <filename>.
  4. json: This saves the results in JSON format. Just use the parameter -oJ <filename>. Or, use the parameters --output-format json and --output-filename <filename>.
  5. list: This is a simple list with one host and port pair per line. Just use the parameter -oL <filename>. Or, use the parameters --output-format list and --output-filename <filename>. The format is:
<port state> <protocol> <port number> <IP address> <POSIX timestamp>  
open tcp 80 XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX 1390380064

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