Using an Attacker’s Tools to Stop Network Attacks

“Our enemies are our greatest teachers” — Dalai Lama

Sean Byrne
3 min readMar 28, 2023
Photo by GR Stocks


Network attacks can cause significant damage to an organization’s reputation, financial loss, and, in some cases, even the loss of life. As technology continues to advance, so do the tools that attackers use to compromise network security. However, there is a way to stay ahead of these attackers by using their own tools against them.

Penetration testers are security consultants who detect vulnerabilities in a system’s security for the purpose of correcting these vulnerabilities. These testers use various tools to discover, gain access to, and disable network resources.

Discovering Network Resources

Command-line utilities are essential tools for discovering network resources. These utilities include ping, tracert, finger, and nslookup. Ping is an automated method for sending packets to a range of IP addresses to determine which hosts are active. Tracert is a utility that determines the route packets take to reach their destination. Finger is a utility that displays information about users on a remote system. Nslookup is a utility that queries DNS servers to obtain information about domain names and IP addresses.

Ping scanner is another automated method for pinging a range of IP addresses to discover active hosts. Port scanners are software that determines which TCP and UDP ports are available on a computer or device. Protocol analyzers are programs or devices that can capture packets traversing a network and display the packets’ contents in a form useful to the user.

Gaining Access to Network Resources

To gain access to network resources, it’s essential not to leave any devices with default credentials. It’s crucial to use strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Using multi-factor authentication can also help secure network resources.

Disabling Network Resources

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is an attempt to tie up network bandwidth or services so that network resources are rendered useless to legitimate users. Three common types of DoS attacks include packet storms, half-open SYN attacks, and ping floods. A packet storm is a flood of packets that are transmitted to a network, overwhelming the network’s bandwidth. A half-open SYN attack occurs when a system opens a connection to a remote system but doesn’t complete the handshake, causing the remote system to keep waiting for the connection to be established. Ping floods occur when a system sends a flood of ping requests to a remote system, causing the remote system to become unresponsive.

Spoofed addresses are another way attackers can disable network resources. A spoofed address is a source address inserted into a packet that is not the sender’s actual address. This type of attack is difficult to detect because the packets appear to be coming from a legitimate source.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks use many systems to tie up network bandwidth or services so that network resources are rendered useless to legitimate users. These attacks are much more potent than a single DoS attack and can cause significant damage to an organization’s network.

Final Thoughts

Using an attacker’s tools against them is an effective way to stay ahead of network attacks. By discovering, gaining access to, and disabling network resources, organizations can stay protected from potential threats. It’s essential to regularly conduct network security assessments and stay up-to-date with the latest security technologies to prevent potential attacks.