The objective of operating system (OS) discovery is to find which OSs are running on computers in a given network. There are two existing strategies for OS discovery-active and passive-each having fundamental limitations. This paper discusses how the theory of diagnosis can be used to address, in a simple and elegant way, the problems associated with OS discovery. The problems are formalized in a logical framework and solutions are obtained through automated reasoning. The result of using such a knowledge-oriented approach is a natural unification of the active and passive methods of OS discovery in a hybrid approach. This paper also illustrates the benefits of the hybrid approach by comparing its accuracy with other existing OS discovery tools through a large-scale experiment.

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Journal International Journal of Network Management
Gagnon, F, & Esfandiari, B. (2011). A hybrid approach to operating system discovery based on diagnosis. International Journal of Network Management, 21(2), 106–119. doi:10.1002/nem.751