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Definition

banner screen

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A banner screen is a configurable text “welcome” display from a network host system. The text generally provides system information, such as data about the operating system (OS) and service packs, software versions and web services.

Unconfigured banners display default information and may also present login screens, both of which make them a target of hackers in attacks called banner grabbing. A banner can also be crafted by an administrator as a custom message, which could be misinformation provided for the purposes of obfuscation or a straightforward warning message for hackers.

Banner screens can be accessed by use of Telnet at the command prompt on the target system’s IP address. Network tools such as Nmap, Netcat and SuperScan can also grab banners.

When using Telnet, for example, you use different ports to access different services:

 SMTP: telnet ip_address 25

 HTTP: telnet ip_address 80

 POP3: telnet ip_address 110

This was last updated in August 2016

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