• By
  • June 6, 2022
  • Cyber Security


Footprinting means gathering information about a target system that can be used to execute a successful cyber attack. To obtain this information, a hacker could use various methods with varying tools. This information is the first way for the hacker to crack a system. There are two types of footprint as follows.

Active footprinting: Active footprinting means footprinting by coming into direct contact with the target machine.

Active Information Gathering We can gather more information about these goals by actively interacting with them. However, unlike passive information gathering, doing so without permission can be illegal. DNS enumeration, port scanning, OS fingerprint can be used. Similar to passive information gathering, the goal of active information gathering is to gather as much information as possible.

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Passive Footprinting: Passive footprinting means collecting information about a system located at a remote distance from the attacker.

In the process of collecting passive information we are collecting information about the objectives using publicly available information (resources). Search engine results, information about who it is can be used. The goal is to find as much information about the goal as possible.

The different types of information that can be collected by Footprinting are the following:


  • The operating system of the target machine
  • Firewall
  • IP address
  • Network map
  • Target machine security configurations
  • Email ID, password
  • Server configurations
  • URL
  • VPN

The sources are as follows:

Social media

Most people have a tendency to release most of their information online. Hackers use this sensitive information as a big deal. They can create a fake account to look real to add as friends or to follow someone’s account to get their information.


JOB websites:

 Organizations share some confidential data on many JOB websites like For example, one company posted on a website: “Job Opening for Lighttpd 2.0 Server Administrator”. From this, information can be gathered about whether an organization is using the version 2.0 Lighttpd web server.



Search engines like Google have the ability to perform more powerful searches than you might think and have gone through. It can be used by hackers and attackers to do something that has been termed Google hacking. Basic research techniques combined with advanced operators can cause great damage. There are server operators like “inurl:”, “allinurl:”, “filetype:”, etc.

For example, you can find devices connected to the Internet. A search string like inurl: “ViewerFrame? Mode =” will find public webcams. The “search operator” link: “that Google used, has now been deactivated (2017)”.

Google can be used to discover a lot of sensitive information that shouldn’t be disclosed. There is also a term for people who blindly post this information on the Internet, they call themselves “Google Dorks”.

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Google search operators for the passive imprint of information

  • Place:

If we include [site:] in our query, Google will limit the results to those websites in the specified domain.

For example in the site: lk query we will find pages within the .lk domain

  • Title:

If we include [titolo:] in our query, Google will limit the results to those websites that mention the search word in the title.

For example in the title query: google we will get websites that mention the

word “google” in the title.

  • URL:

If we include [inurl:] in our query, Google will limit the results to those websites that mention the search word in the URL.

For example, in the query inurl: google, google will return websites that mention the word “google” in their URL.

  • Information:

The query [info:] will present some information that Google has about that web page. For example, the query info: will show information about the Google home page.

  • File Type:

If we include [filetype:] in our query, Google will limit the results to the file extension specified by the type.

  • Explore live cameras

Using Google Dorks, we can find exposed Internet cameras that are not restricted by IP address. There are many Google Dorks for finding Internet cameras. Here are two examples:

TITLE: “IP CAMERA Viewer” intext: “Settings | Client Settings”

 TITLE: NetworkCamera intext: “Pan / Tilt” inurl: ViewerFram



  1. To search within social media sites, use the @ symbol followed by the name of a social media; then enter the colon in the search query. For example, enter @facebook: keyword to search for the term keyword within Facebook.
  2. To search for hashtags, put a # sign before the search term. For example, enter #USAelection.
  3. To search for unknown words, use the asterisk (*) to replace it with one or more words. For example, enter hidden data in *.
  4. Use the keyword map – followed by the location name and Google will show you the map-based results. For example, enter map: New York.


Social Engineering: 

There are various techniques that fall into this category. Some of them are:


The attacker tries to record the target victim’s personal conversation with someone who is being held via means of communication such as the telephone.

Shoulder Surf:

In this technique, the attacker tries to capture personal information like email ID, password, etc; of the victim looking over her shoulder while she is entering (typing / writing) her personal data for some jobs.

Social engineering is the term used for a wide range of harmful activities carried out through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or divulging sensitive information.

Social engineering attacks occur in one or more steps. A perpetrator first investigates the intended victim to gather the necessary basic information, such as potential entry points and weak security protocols, required to proceed with the attack. Then, the attacker moves to gain the victim’s trust and provide incentives for subsequent actions that violate security practices, such as disclosing sensitive information or granting access to critical resources.


Social Engineering Prevention

Social engineers manipulate human feelings, such as curiosity or fear, to make patterns and lure victims into their traps. Therefore, be careful whenever you feel alarmed by an email, attracted to an offer displayed on a website, or when you come across stray digital media lying around. Being vigilant can help protect you from most of the social engineering attacks taking place in the digital realm.

Additionally, the following tips can help improve your vigilance in relation to social engineering hacks.

  • Don’t open emails and attachments from suspicious sources – if you don’t know the sender in question, you don’t need to reply to an email. Even if you know them and are suspicious of their message, check and confirm the news from other sources, such as over the phone or directly from a service provider’s website. Remember that e-mail addresses are continuously forged; even an email purportedly from a trusted source could actually have been initiated by an attacker.
  • Use multi-factor authentication: One of the most valuable information attackers look for is the user’s credentials. Using multi-factor authentication helps ensure that your account is protected in the event of a system compromise. Imperva Login Protect is an easy to implement 2FA solution that can increase account security for your applications.
  • Be wary of tempting offers – If an offer seems too tempting, think twice before accepting it as a fact. Googling the topic can help you quickly determine if you’re dealing with a legitimate offer or a trap.
  • Keep your anti-virus / anti-malware software up to date: Make sure automatic updates are on or make it a habit to download the latest signatures first thing every day. Check periodically to make sure the updates have been applied

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Counter Measures For Information Gathering:


  • Avoid posting confidential data on social media websites.
  • Avoid accepting unwanted friend requests on social media platforms.
  • Promotion of education on various hacking tricks.
  • Usage of footprinting techniques for identifying and removing sensitive information from social media platforms.
  • Proper configuration of web servers to avoid loss of information about system configuration.
  • Creating awareness among the employees and users about the dangers of social engineering
  • Limiting the sensitive information
  • encrypting sensitive information
  • using privacy services on whois lookup database
  • Disable directory listings in the web servers
  • Enforcing security policies.



Rajat Sharma

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