In today’s connected world, knowing and managing the devices connected to your network is essential. However, identifying and monitoring every device becomes challenging with an ever-increasing number of devices.
- SolarWinds IP Address Manager (Free Trial)
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
- SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability (Free Trial)
- ManageEngine Site24x7
- Angry IP Scanner
- SoftPerfect Network Scanner
This post will guide you in identifying devices on your network and provide a list of the best network scanners to make this task easier.
What Is Network Device Identification?
Network device identification is detecting and cataloging devices connected to a network, including computers, servers, switches, routers, printers, and other IoT devices.
Identifying devices on your network helps you manage and monitor their performance, troubleshoot issues, and maintain network security.
Reason Behind Connecting Unknown Devices
Unknown devices on your network can be a security risk. They can consume network resources, hurt network performance, and even be used to attack your devices. That’s why it’s important to identify and manage these devices.
There are several reasons why unknown devices may connect to your network.
5 most common reasons behind unknown devices in your network:
- Weak passwords—They’re the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your network. If your passwords are easy to guess, hackers can crack them and then use them to log in to your network.
- Open ports—These on your firewall can allow hackers to access your network. When you open a port on your firewall, you essentially give hackers a way into your network. To protect your network, close any ports that you’re not using.
- Malware—This is a serious threat to your network. It can provide hackers a back door into your network through your computer. For example, a hacker might send you an infected email attachment. If you open the attachment, the malware will install on your computer. The hacker can then use the malware to control your computer and access your network.
- Misconfigured devices—These can also leave your network open to unauthorized access because misconfigured devices can have security vulnerabilities hackers can exploit. For example, a misconfigured firewall may not block all incoming traffic, or a misconfigured router may allow unauthorized devices to connect to the network.
- Physical access—Giving access to your network is a major security risk. If someone has physical access to your network, they can connect devices to your network without being detected. They can use access to steal your data, install malware, or disrupt your operations.
Knowing how unknown devices can connect to your network can help you take preventive measures and secure your network.
Identify Unknown Devices (Manually and Automatically)
There are two primary methods to identify unknown devices on your network.
1. Manual Identification
Manual identification involves physically checking each device connected to your network and noting their details. This method can be time-consuming and impractical for larger networks with numerous devices.
2. Automatic Identification
Automatic identification involves using tools and software to scan your network and automatically detect and catalog devices. This method is more efficient and scalable, making it ideal for managing larger networks.
How to Identify Devices on Wireless Network
The router’s management interface or network-scanning tools can identify devices on a wireless network.
The interface usually displays a list of connected devices, including their names, IP addresses, and MAC addresses. However, this information may only sometimes be accurate or up to date.
Using network-scanning tools provides a more comprehensive and accurate view of the devices connected to your network. These tools scan the network and gather information on all connected devices, making identifying unknown devices and monitoring their activity easier.
1. Using Router’s Web Interface
One of the easiest ways to identify devices on your network is by accessing your router’s web interface. Follow these steps:
- Open your web browser and enter your router’s IP address (e.g., http://192.168.1.1) into the address bar.
- Log in to your router’s web management portal using your username and password.
- Look for a section that lists connected devices labeled “Device List,” “Connected Devices,” or something similar.
This method lets you view all connected devices’ IP addresses, MAC addresses, and device names.
2. Finding IP Addresses
If you’re using a Windows computer, you can find the IP addresses of devices on your network by following these steps:
- Click on the Start option and go to “Settings.”
- Go to the “Network & Internet” option.
- Select your network connection, and you can view the IP address beside the “IP Address.”
- Click on the Wi-Fi option, then go to “Advanced Options.” The IP address will be next to the “IPv4 Address.”
This method provides you with the IP addresses of devices connected to your network, which can help identify unknown devices.
If you’re using a Linux computer, you can find the IP addresses of devices on your network by following these steps:
- Open a terminal window.
- Run the following command to list all connected devices: ip addr show.
- The output of this command will include the IP addresses of all connected devices.
3. Using Command Prompt
Another method to identify devices on your network using a Windows computer is through the command prompt. Follow these steps:
- Open the command prompt utility by typing cmd in the Start menu and run it as an administrator.
- Type arp -a and press Enter.
- A list of connected devices’ IP and MAC addresses will be displayed on your screen.
Additionally, you can use the ping command to identify devices by their IP address. To do this:
- Open the command prompt utility as an administrator.
- Type ping -a [IP_ADDRESS], where [IP_ADDRESS] is the device’s IP address you want to find.
- If the device is active, its network name will be displayed.
- Install the Nmap tool if you don’t have it already.
- Run the following command to scan your network for all connected devices: nmap -sn 192.168.1.0/24.
- The output of this command will include the IP addresses, MAC addresses, and open ports of all connected devices.
4. Using Network Scanners
Network scanning tools can help you discover, monitor, and scan devices to protect your network against unknown devices. In addition, these tools often provide more detailed information about connected devices and can even generate network maps.
Device Identification: MAC Address vs. IP Address
When identifying devices on your network, it’s essential to understand the difference between MAC addresses and IP addresses.
A MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique identifier the manufacturer assigns to a network interface controller (NIC). It’s often referred to as a hardware or physical address to identify devices on a local network.
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a network. It serves two primary functions: identifying the host or network interface and providing the device’s location on the network.
Best Practice: Automation Through Tool
Some best practices for automating device identification through tools include:
- Choose the right tool. There are many tools available. Consider the features, ease of use, and cost.
- Run the scan regularly. Identify new devices and prevent unauthorized access.
- Review the results of the scan. Identify unauthorized devices and take steps to remove them or block their access.
- Keep your tools up to date. Ensure effectiveness in identifying and blocking unauthorized devices.
By following these best practices, you can automate identifying devices on your network and help keep your network secure.
Now, let’s see some network scanners that can be used in your network.
6 Best Network Scanners
Here are six of the best network scanners to help you identify devices on your network.
1. SolarWinds IP Address Manager (Free Trial)
SolarWinds IP Address Manager (IPAM) is a powerful tool that helps businesses efficiently manage their IP address space. It offers a comprehensive DNS, DHCP, and IP address management (DDI) solution.
©2023 SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved.
With SolarWinds IP Address Manager, businesses can easily find IP addresses, track them, and monitor IP status changes. It also helps better organize data and prevents IP conflicts or duplications.
One of the key features is its ability to automate IP address management tasks because it saves time and reduces the chances of errors.
Additionally, IPAM assists with capacity planning and subnet organization, making it an indispensable tool for network administrators. It can even find abandoned IP addresses and resolve IP conflicts through pairing with SolarWinds’ User Device Tracker.
Another essential feature is its advanced ability to integrate DNS and DHCP management. This feature allows businesses to create alerts, pull reports, schedule scanning, and automate static requests.
Moreover, IPAM offers a hybrid DNS management system to help organizations manage their DNS infrastructure effortlessly. The Infoblox integration feature enables businesses to integrate with Infoblox DNS servers seamlessly.
IPAM provides benefits such as increased network efficiency, reduced downtime, simplified management, and improved security.
The software starts at a price of $1,995 for up to 256 IP addresses, with higher tiers available for larger networks.
SolarWinds also offers a free 30-day trial. With its competitive pricing and robust feature set, SolarWinds IP Address Manager is a valuable option for small- to large-sized businesses and managed service providers.
Paessler PRTG Network Monitor is a comprehensive network-monitoring solution that includes device discovery and management. It offers SNMP-based device discovery, automatic inventory creation, monitoring traffic, bandwidth usage, server performance, application performance, virtualization performance, cloud services, and more.
©2023 Paessler AG
It also offers easy installation and setup, including a one-click installer and automatic network discovery.
PRTG Network Monitor is the perfect tool for monitoring network traffic. It shows you which applications, connections, and data types significantly strain your network. In the event of disruptions or overloads, the PRTG alarm is triggered immediately.
Additionally, Paessler PRTG Network Monitor offers six standard pricing levels that vary based on the number of sensors.
The free, unsupported version can be used with up to 100 sensors. The entry-level for commercial support is PRT500, which costs $1,600 for 500 sensors. The PRTG XL1 license tier supports unlimited sensors and costs $14,000.
3. SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability (Free Trial)
SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability is a highly robust solution containing features of multiple SolarWinds products, such as IPAM and Network Performance Monitor, that allow scanning networks, troubleshooting issues, and tracking rogue devices. It’s a powerful software recommended for those who want to integrate data from multiple sources such as networks, servers, applications, and databases. Its primary purpose is to assist organizations in ensuring availability and expediting remediation time across both on-premises and multi-cloud environments, enhancing visibility, intelligence, and productivity.
©2023 SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC. All rights reserved.
In addition, transforming various data types into actionable insights brings clarity and focus to complex landscapes.
This cloud-centric monitoring solution offers complete visibility over your entire infrastructure, encompassing network devices. It provides device discovery, performance monitoring, and alerting capabilities.
Site24x7, a comprehensive cloud-monitoring solution, offers free and paid services to oversee your entire IT environment. It monitors websites, servers, networks, applications, and cloud platforms, safeguarding their well-being and performance.
Swift alerts are dispatched through various channels whenever issues or downtime arise.
ManageEngine’s Site24x7 goes beyond regular monitoring, encompassing features like SNMP-based device discovery, network topology mapping, and performance monitoring.
Pricing starting at $9 per month provides flexibility to suit diverse needs.
Angry IP Scanner is a lightweight, open-source network scanner that quickly scans IP addresses and ports. It’s helpful for fundamental network device discovery and provides information such as IP addresses, hostnames, and MAC addresses.
Angry IP Scanner maintained by angryziber
It’s a versatile and popular tool for efficient IP address and port scanning. By sending pings, it determines the availability of IP addresses and can further gather data by resolving hostnames, identifying MAC addresses, and conducting port scans.
The tool offers extensibility through plugins, enabling users to enhance the collected data.
Some key features of Angry IP Scanner include scanning local networks and the internet, supporting IP ranges and various input formats, and exporting results in multiple file formats. It provides a user-friendly command-line interface, gaining significant popularity with over 29 million downloads.
It’s a free cross-platform solution that can easily be used without requiring installation.
Please refer to the website for more detailed information and instructions on utilizing Angry IP Scanner.
SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a versatile and powerful network-scanning tool that offers a comprehensive range of features and capabilities.
© 2000–2023 SoftPerfect Pty Ltd, Australia
The software allows users to ping computers, scan ports, and quickly discover shared folders. In addition, network administrators can efficiently manage and monitor their network resources with flexible filtering and display options.
SoftPerfect Network Scanner supports various protocols, including WMI, SNMP, HTTP, SSH, and PowerShell, thus enabling users to retrieve detailed information about network devices. Some features include detecting hardware MAC addresses across routers, exporting scan results in multiple formats, and providing a user-friendly command-line interface.
With over 29 million downloads, SoftPerfect Network Scanner has gained popularity among users worldwide. It’s a free, open-source solution compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.
SoftPerfect Network Scanner offers different licensing options to cater to varying needs. For example, a single-device license allows installation and use on one device, while site or worldwide licenses are available for a larger or an unknown number of installations.
With any license, users can scan an unlimited number of devices. The pricing for SoftPerfect Network Scanner ranges between $29 and $50, depending on the chosen license and its coverage.
Identifying devices on your network is essential to network management and security.
By using the best network scanners and automating the process, you can maintain an accurate inventory of devices, monitor performance, and address potential issues before they impact your network.
This post was written by Chinyere Ordor. Chinyere is a versatile writer and developer with expertise in RPA, backend development, and various other cutting-edge technology fields. With a passion for technology and innovation, Chinyere has written various articles on Node.js, test automation, etc. showcasing their deep understanding of the subject. When she’s not working, she’s found catching up with friends.