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RE: Yet another thread on the legality of port scanning
From: "David Gillett" <gillettdavid () fhda edu>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 09:38:28 -0800

There are legitimate reasons for running a port scan on a 
computer in a limited fashion, such as service discovery. 

  Portscans don't discover services, just ports.

Would a reasonable man conclude that http://www.cnn.com is an 
acceptable connection in the absence of explicit 
permission?  I would
say yes, he would.  Would a reasonable man conclude that 
ftp://www.cnn.com
is an acceptable connection in the absence of explicit permission?
I would argue no, he would not.  

I would argue that you're wrong.  Anonymous FTP is a very frequent 
occurrance on the internet and it's not unreasonable to 
expect that CNN might have an anonymous FTP site for content.  
What, exactly, makes you think that it's an unreasonable service 
to use?

  If CNN wants to provide an anonymous FTP service, they're likely 
to put it on ftp://ftp.cnn.com .  www.cnn.com should almost certainly
be dedicated to web service, and any FTP service running on that box
is *probably* only intended for distribution of content updates to
the web site; if it accepts anonymous connections, that's more likely
by mistake than by design.  "Reasonable man" says that if they have
an intended anonymous FTP site, that's not where it is.

Dave Gillett



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