How to Check Open Ports in Linux [3 Easy Methods]

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Last updated: June 27, 2023

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To check open ports in Linux, you can try these methods:

  1. Using the netstat Command: Monitor network connections and check open ports.
  2. Leveraging the lsof Command: Identify open ports and associated processes.
  3. Using the ss Command: Obtain socket statistics to check open ports, services, and processes.

To ensure network security in Linux, follow these best practices for checking open ports: conduct regular port scans, implement a firewall, minimize open ports, apply regular updates and patching, and enforce user privileges and access control. By adhering to these practices, you can enhance the security of your Linux system and protect against potential threats.

Continue reading the guide below to explore different methods to check open ports in Linux and the best practices to follow when checking open ports.

Network security plays a paramount role in safeguarding sensitive data and systems from potential threats. One crucial aspect of maintaining a secure network is checking open ports. Open ports are gateways for network services and applications to communicate with external devices. By understanding how to check open ports in Linux and the associated benefits, you can identify potential vulnerabilities, secure your system against unauthorized access, and ensure the integrity of your network infrastructure. In this article, I will explore various methods to check open ports in Linux, delve into best practices for open port management, and highlight the importance of regular port scanning.

How to Check Open Ports in Linux

To check open ports in Linux, you can utilize powerful commands like netstat, lsof, and ss. These commands provide comprehensive information about open ports, associated services, and active network connections. By using netstat with appropriate filters, lsof to identify processes using open ports, and ss for a concise overview, you can effectively monitor and manage open ports on your Linux system.

1. Using the netstat Command

The netstat command is a powerful tool available in Linux for monitoring network connections and checking open ports. It provides a comprehensive view of all active network connections and associated services. Follow these steps to utilize netstat effectively:

  1. Open the terminal in your Linux distribution.
opening terminal 22
  1. Enter the following command to display all open ports and active network connections:
<strong>netstat -tuln</strong>
  1. The output will show a list of open ports along with the associated services and their status (listening, established, etc.).
using netstat command to list all active ports
  1. To filter the output and display only open ports, you can use the grep command like this:
<strong>netstat -tuln | grep LISTEN</strong>
  1. This command will show only the open ports in the listening state.
using netstat command to list only open ports

2. Leveraging the lsof Command

The lsof (list open files) command in Linux is an effective way to identify open ports and the processes associated with them. It provides detailed information about open files, including network connections. Follow these steps to utilize lsof effectively:

  1. Access your command window and run the following command to display all open ports and associated processes:
<strong>sudo lsof -i</strong>
  1. The output will provide a comprehensive list of open ports and the processes utilizing them.
listing ports and the processes using them
  1. You can further narrow down the results by specifying a port number or filtering based on a specific service or process name.
<strong>sudo lsof -i :port_number</strong>
  1. The command will only display the details of the specific port.
viewing details of a specific port using lsof command

3. Using the ss Command

The ss command (Socket Statistics) is a versatile tool for checking open ports and active network connections in Linux. With its streamlined output and extensive filtering capabilities, ss provides a concise overview of open ports, associated services, and processes. Follow these steps to utilize the ss command:

  1. Enter your command prompt and execute the following command to display all open ports and active network connections:
<strong>ss -tuln</strong>
  1. The output will provide a comprehensive list of open ports, associated services, and corresponding processes.
listing ports using ss command
  1. Similar to the netstat command, you can filter the output to display only open ports using the grep command:
<strong>ss -tuln | grep LISTEN</strong>
  1. This command will show only the open ports in the listening state.
displaying only listening ports using ss command

5 Best Practices for Checking Open Ports in Linux

In order to ensure the security and integrity of your network infrastructure, it is essential to follow best practices when checking open ports in Linux. By following these best practices, you can enhance the security of your Linux system, minimize the risk of potential threats, and maintain a robust and well-protected network environment. Here are five best practices that you can follow:

  • 🔒 Regular Port Scanning: Regular port scans are crucial to identify any unauthorized open ports or services running on non-standard ports. By conducting scheduled port scans, you can proactively detect and address potential security vulnerabilities before they are exploited. Regular scans help you maintain an up-to-date inventory of open ports, ensuring that only necessary services are accessible and reducing the attack surface.
  • 🔥 Implement a Firewall: Configuring a firewall is fundamental to network security. A properly configured firewall is a barrier between your system and external threats. It allows you to control incoming and outgoing network traffic, permitting access only to necessary ports and services. By defining specific rules and policies, you can block unauthorized access attempts and prevent malicious activities from reaching your system through open ports. Implementing a firewall is a critical defense mechanism that enhances the security and integrity of your network infrastructure.
  • 🔐 Minimize Open Ports: Adopting the principle of least privilege helps minimize the number of open ports on your system. By closing unnecessary ports not required for essential services, you reduce the potential points of entry for attackers. Limiting the exposure of your system to open ports decreases the attack surface, making it more difficult for malicious actors to gain unauthorized access. By carefully evaluating and assessing the necessity of each open port, you can mitigate potential security risks and ensure a more secure network environment.
  • 🛡️ Regular Updates and Patching: Keeping your Linux system up to date is crucial for maintaining network security. Applying security patches and updates promptly helps address vulnerabilities in network services and the operating system. Regular updates ensure that known exploits, including those that target open ports, are mitigated. By staying current with the latest security patches, you fortify your system against potential threats and reduce the risk of unauthorized access through open ports. Regular updates and patching are vital for maintaining a robust and secure network infrastructure.
  • 🔒 User Privileges and Access Control: Proper user privilege management and access control are essential to network security. Grant administrative access and root privileges only to trusted individuals who require them for specific tasks. Restricting user permissions limits the potential risks associated with open ports. Unauthorized modifications to network configurations, including open ports, can be prevented by implementing access control policies. Restricting user privileges reduces the chances of accidental or intentional misconfigurations that could compromise network security. 

In a Nutshell

I have discussed various methods to check open ports in Linux, including using commands like netstat, lsof, and ss. These methods provide valuable insights into open ports, associated services, and potential vulnerabilities. Additionally, I have highlighted important best practices for checking open ports to ensure the security and integrity of your network infrastructure. 

To explore deeper into Linux security, consider articles on topics like Implementing Firewall Rules in Linux, Hardening Linux Server Configurations, and Detecting and Mitigating Network Intrusions on Linux. By continuously expanding your knowledge in this area, you can fortify your systems and stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of cybersecurity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential risks of leaving all ports open?

Leaving all ports open increases the attack surface and exposes your system to potential security threats, making unauthorized access or malicious activities easier. Open ports provide entry points for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in services running on those ports. Attackers can launch attacks, such as port scanning, service exploitation, or remote code execution if all ports are open. This increases the risk of data breaches, unauthorized access to sensitive information, and compromise of system integrity. By selectively opening only necessary ports and implementing proper security measures, you can significantly reduce the potential risks associated with leaving all ports open.

Is it possible to check open ports without root/superuser privileges?

Yes, it is possible to check open ports in Linux without root/superuser privileges. The netstat command can be used to check open ports, but its output will be limited, providing basic information about the ports and associated services. However, for more detailed and comprehensive information, such as process details and ownership of open ports, running the commands as root or with superuser privileges is recommended. Running commands with elevated privileges allows access to system-level information necessary for in-depth open ports analysis and monitoring.

Can I automate port scanning in Linux?

Absolutely! You can automate port scanning in Linux to save time and streamline the process. By creating scripts that utilize powerful tools like nmap or netstat with custom parameters, you can automate the scanning of open ports on specific IP addresses or network ranges. These scripts can be scheduled and executed using cron jobs, allowing you to perform regular and automated port scans at predefined intervals. Automating port scanning helps ensure continuous monitoring of your network’s security posture, detects changes in open ports, and enables proactive identification of potential vulnerabilities or unauthorized services. It is a valuable practice for maintaining a robust security infrastructure in Linux.

How can I scan for open ports on a remote Linux machine?

To scan for open ports on a remote Linux machine, you can utilize the nmap tool. Nmap provides a wide range of scanning options, including the ability to scan for open ports on remote systems. Using the -Pn option, you can bypass the host discovery phase, allowing nmap to directly scan for open ports on the specified IP address or hostname. This option is particularly useful when the target machine may be blocking ICMP or other network discovery protocols. By running the command with the -Pn option, nmap will focus solely on identifying open ports on the remote Linux machine, providing you with valuable information about its network services and potential vulnerabilities.



Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.



Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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