UPDATE: 3 February 2009 Nmap 4.85 BETA3 is now available - this release fixes a few minor issues and contains a couple of small tweaks.
Version 4.85 BETA2 of Nmap, everyone's favourite network security scanner, has been released. This version includes a huge amount of improvements, bug fixes and new features. The full list of significant changes can be found in the CHANGELOG. Here are some notable ones:
- Nmap Port Scanning algorithms have been improved to increase performance without sacrificing the accuracy for which Nmap is loved. On average, scans are now 30% faster!
- The accuracy of Nmap 2nd Generation Operating System Detection was improved which should result in significantly better OS determination.
- Port scan performance has been improved by changing the list of high priority ports (those more likely to be responsive) which Nmap shifts closer to the beginning of scans. The new port list is: 21, 22, 23, 25, 53, 80, 110, 111, 113, 135, 139, 143, 199, 256, 443, 445, 554, 587, 993, 995, 1025, 1720, 1723, 3306, 3389, 5900, 8080 and 8888.
- Nmap now ships with Ndiff, a marvellous utility written in Python which compares two Nmap XML output files and generates a report showing the differences between them. This allows you to perform scans of the same network periodically and detect changes in port states, service versions, responsive hosts and so on. Read more about Ndiff at http://nmap.org/ndiff/.
- Nmap now ships with Ncat, a much-improved reimplementation of Netcat brought up-to-date with IPv6 support, connection brokering support, proxying and, of course, is cross platform like Nmap. Read more about Ncat at http://nmap.org/ncat/.
- Nmap scripts now have a sensible naming scheme and have been renamed accordingly. This benefits users because calling scripts by name is easier with more intuitive names and also because the script filename is printed in Nmap output and it's now much easier to see which script produced a particular output. It benefits script writers because the ID field is no longer used - one less thing to remember when writing scripts.
- The NSIS Nmap installer for Windows now installs on the all new Windows 7.
- Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) now has libraries that handle MSRPC, NetBIOS and SMB protocols and several scripts that utilise these libraries to interrogate Windows machines for lots of interesting information such as user, group, shares, processes, sessions and domain enumeration.
- NSE scripts and libraries are now documented. The documentation is generated from comments in the scripts themselves using a LuaDoc implementation designed for Nmap named NSEdoc. This is a real help when you want to write a script as well as for curious folk wanting to know the how and the why of script execution. The full documentation is available online at http://nmap.org/nsedoc/.
- Nmap now correctly inserts the path to the XSL stylesheet in XML output on Windows machines. This means you can now open Nmap XML output files in your favourite web browser from any directory without having to supply the --stylesheet argument on the command line.
Aside from these, there have been numerous improvements to NSE and the Zenmap GUI and it would be well worth your time to upgrade to the new version. Get it from http://nmap.org/download.