Network Device Identification

What is Network Device Identification?

Network device identification refers to the process of recognizing and categorizing devices connected to a network.

This includes identifying the type of device (e.g., router, switch, computer, printer), its manufacturer, model, IP address, MAC address, and other relevant information.

Identifying all devices on a network allows administrators to detect unauthorized or suspicious devices.

It also helps implement access control policies, enforce security measures, and detect potential threats or intrusions.

Reasons for Unknown Devices in Your Network

Here are some of the common reasons for the presence of unknown devices within your network.

Unauthorized Access:

Possible intrusion by malicious entities, gaining unauthorized entry to the network, posing significant security threats and risks.


Devices failing to properly identify due to setup errors, potentially leading to security vulnerabilities and operational inefficiencies.

Guest Devices:

These are legitimate temporary connections that require monitoring to ensure security and prevent unauthorized access or potential threats to the network.

Malware or Botnets:

Infected devices or part of malicious networks, posing serious security risks such as data breaches and network disruptions.

Network Scanning:

Activities by researchers, testers, or attackers mapping the network structure, potentially indicating reconnaissance for future attacks or vulnerabilities exploitation.

How to Identify Devices on a Network

Identifying unknown devices on a network can be crucial for security and network management. You can either do it manually or employ a tool that can perform the task automatically.

Manual Identification

Here are the steps to manually identify unknown devices:

  • Open Command Prompt or Terminal: Open the Command Prompt on Windows or Terminal on Linux/macOS.
  • View Connected Devices: Input the command “arp -a” in Windows and arp -a or arp -n for Linux and Mac. The command will give you a comprehensive list of IP addresses linked to your network, along with their respective MAC addresses and allocation status.

Automatic Identification

Automated identification employs specialized tools and software to scan networks and autonomously detect and catalog devices.

This approach offers enhanced efficiency and scalability, particularly for overseeing larger networks.

How to Identify Devices on a Wireless Network

You can easily identify any unknown devices connected to your wireless network. This can be done manually or automatically through network scanning tools.

Manual Identification

  • Launch a web browser on any device connected to your router’s network.
  • Type your router’s IP address into the browser’s address bar and press Enter. You can typically locate this information on a sticker attached to the router or within its documentation.
  • Log in to your router’s web interface using the administrator username and password. Again, this information is typically found on the router or in its documentation.
  • Navigate to the section labeled ‘Connected Devices,’ ‘DHCP Client List,’ or similar.
  • Review the list of connected devices, which may display their names, IP addresses, and MAC addresses.

Automatic Identification

IT teams take a significant amount of time to identify devices and their corresponding IP addresses in large, hybrid, or multi-vendor networks.

A network scanning tool is recommended to identify unknown devices on a wireless network more easily.

It furnishes in-depth data sourced from wireless access points, including SSID, type of device, strength of the signal, and linked devices.

These tools prove invaluable for detecting devices and troubleshooting network security and performance concerns within huge corporate wireless networks.

Using Networking Scanning Tools To Identify Unknown Devices In Any Network

Network scanning tools play a vital role in cybersecurity and network management.

These tools help you in the following ways:

Network Discovery:

These tools facilitate the identification of devices connected to a network by scanning IP addresses and detecting active hosts.

They utilize various techniques, such as ping sweeps and ARP scanning, to map out the network topology and identify available devices.

Real-time Monitoring and Alerting:

Tools with real-time monitoring capabilities continuously observe network activity and generate alerts for any newly detected devices.

Administrators can promptly investigate and identify unknown devices entering the network, ensuring proactive security measures.

Device Profiling:

Some advanced tools offer device profiling capabilities. These tools analyze network traffic patterns and device behavior to categorize and classify devices.

These tools can identify unknown devices based on their behavior by examining traffic characteristics, such as protocols used and communication patterns.