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11 Best Way for Footprinting and Information Gathering

Footprinting is a special technique used for gathering information about your target computer and its network system. to get this kind of sensitive information hackers used various tools & techniques. In this article, gives you a brief overview of the Footprinting and Information Gathering process and how to safe your sensitive information from hackers.

There is no specific answer to the question of what kind of information hackers collected. Because any information on the target is an asset to a hacker and every single piece of information is very valuable to a hacker. So we can’t specifically say what kind of information hackers collected but the information can be the target’s computer system, target’s network system, website, mobile number, email, ID card, or simply any information of the target. And the whole process of collecting this information is called Footprinting (also known as reconnaissance). This process is considered the first step of hacking.

Footprinting and Information Gathering

As we said before, Footprinting is a special method by which information is collected. Through various tools and technologies, hackers collect different information about the target and based on this information, hackers hack or down the target system. The type of information that is collected through footprinting can be divided into three parts-

General Information

General Information is the collection of general information of a person or organization such as the name, number, location, email, name of the website, security policy, etc. of the employees of that organization.

Network Information 

Network information includes domain names, domain IPs, domain services, domain servers, domain networking protocols, router information, and so on.

System Information

System information means system login credentials, system architecture, routing tables, remote system type, etc. 

Footprinting can be done in a variety of ways, but the most popular are:

  1. Search Engine Footprinting
  2. Google Advanced Technique Footprinting
  3. Social Media Footprinting
  4. Website Footprinting
  5. WHOIS Footprinting
  6. DNS Footprinting
  7. Network Footprinting
  8. Open Source footprinting
  9. Email Footprinting
  10. Social Engineering Footprinting
  11. Footprinting through various tools

Search Engine Footprinting 

Search engines make it easy for us to gather information from any organization or individual or community. Because search engines contain information about almost everything in the world. Although there are many other search engines including Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, and Google is the most popular in terms of usage.

Google Advanced Footprinting

We can collect a lot of sensitive information through Google Advanced Search Technique. For example, what are the subdomains of your target website that you want to collect? In that case, you need to use Google Advanced Keyword. First, go to Google and type-

site:yoursitename.com -www

At yoursitename.com you will name your target site. 

Let’s know details about Google Advanced Search and Google Subdomain

Social Media Footprinting

Currently, most of the victims of data hacking are with these social media platforms. There are several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, which hackers use the most, to gather general information. 

How to collect personal or institutional information from these social media here is an example. Suppose, my target is Tesla and I chose LinkedIn as the source for gathering general information or footprinting. First of all, we have to search by typing the name of our target company in LinkedIn’s search box which means we have to go to the official page of the target company. here you’ll get how many people work in this company, who works, their general identity, name, LinkedIn ID, etc. which is very informative for general footprinting. 

Details of your target can be found in the About section on the left side of the image, then in the Jobs section if your target has a job offer then you will find detailed information there and most importantly the personal profiles of all the employees, officers, interns of this company will be attached. However, it is not the case that everyone here will be your desired target.

Website Footprinting

There are many different types of footprinting available online. The personal information of different people is very nicely arranged on the following sites. In this way, you can do detailed research about the target with these sites.

  • https://pipl.com/
  • https://www.411.com/
  • https://www.ussearch.com/
  • https://www.intelius.com/
  • https://www.peoplefinders.com/
  • https://www.peoplesearchnow.com/

Many financially sensitive information of a company or organization is given on various finance sites. All of these sites provide shares of that company, company profile, competitor details, various user information, etc. and this information is collected by hackers as footprinting.

  • https://www.google.com/finance/
  • https://finance.yahoo.com/

Many times we have to create alerts for the victims or targets. A lot of information about the target with the alert is available via email or phone. There are many sites for alert creation but Google Alert is the most popular.

  • https://www.google.com/alerts
  • http://www.gigaalert.com/

Adequate analysis of a website and various site mirror tools are used to easily find out the weaknesses of the site. With these tools, all the sites can be cloned and all the content of the site such as directory, code, image, video, file, etc. can be manipulated. The most popular mirroring tools are HTTrack Website Copier, BlackWidow, SurfOffline, NCollector Studio, Teleport Pro, etc.

  • https://www.httrack.com/
  • http://www.surfoffline.com/
  • http://www.calluna-software.com/
  • http://www.tenmax.com/teleport/
  • http://www.spadixbd.com/backstreet/
  • http://softbytelabs.com/wp/blackwidow/

WHOIS Footprinting

WHOIS footprinting is another way to gather sensitive information on a website. Through this, various information about the site such as site owner’s name, mobile number, email, address, site server, IP, and other information can be collected. Through WHOIS footprinting hackers can easily attack any site.

  • https://who.is/
  • https://www.whois.net/
  • http://whois.domaintools.com/
  • https://www.godaddy.com/whois
  • https://www.namecheap.com/domains/whois/

DNS Footprinting

Domain Name System Footprinting provides important information about a domain. Hackers collect domains through IP, record type, network system, computer name, etc. These can be collected through various tools, among which the following tools are the most popular.

  • https://tools.dnsstuff.com/
  • https://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx
  • https://network-tools.webwiz.net/nslookup.htm
  • http://www.kloth.net/services/dig.php
  • https://www.whatsmydns.net/
  • https://mxtoolbox.com/DNSLookup.aspx

Email Footprinting

Footprinting can also be done via email. There are various email tracking tools through which emails can be tracked, emailer identity, emailer location, mail server information, IP address, and other information can be collected.

  • http://www.emailtrackerpro.com/
  • https://politemail.com/
  • http://www.ipaddresslocation.org/
  • https://www.yesware.com/
  • https://www.contactmonkey.com/
  • http://whoreadme.com/
  • https://www.getnotify.com/

Social Engineering Footprinting

We learned a lot about footprinting above data collection through various sites or tools. Now we will try to learn how to collect information through social engineering by manipulating different people. Social engineering is a kind of non-technical method through which hackers mix with different people or different people around them with different ideas or impressions through hackers collect important information about the target. This social engineering is basically done in three steps-

  • Eavesdropping (collecting information by listening to someone in secret)
  • Shoulder surfing
  • Dumpster diving or Trashing

Eavesdropping: This method allows hackers to secretly listen to various conversations of the target, unknowingly targeting the target. This allows hackers to collect various audio, video, or written information.

Shoulder Surfing: This method allows hackers to target the target computer activities from the side of the target or from behind the target but do not let the target understand that. Through this method, hackers collect Username, Password, PIN, Security codes, Account Numbers, Credit Card Info, etc.

Dumpster Diving or Trashing: With this method, hackers try to collect various information from the pile of garbage that the target company has, where various unnecessary documents or various documents at the end of the work are thrown in different baskets or dustbins by the employees of the company. Hackers can collect numbers, financial information, any information related to the company’s operations. 

Footprinting through Tools

Link Extractor: There are some sites called Link Extractor, where you can do a detailed analysis of your target site. This means that you can know the details of various external and internal information, links, images, tags, inbound and outbound links etc. of the target site.

  • https://urlextractor.net/
  • http://webmasterstoolkit.com/LinkExtractor.php

Maltego: Maltego is an open-source intelligence and forensic software. Maltego is an interactive data mining tool that displays in the form of graphs for various link analyses. This tool is used in many online investigations on the Internet. 

  • https://www.maltego.com/

Netcraft: Netcraft.com where you can easily get a lot of information about your target. In Netcraft, you will find various information about your target site such as site IP, site hosting area, source, protocol, site title, owner information, site address. We also used Google Advanced Keywords to find the subdomain of the site. It can be easily found out using Netcraft.

  • https://searchdns.netcraft.com/

Archive.org : This site is a non-profit digital library and This website has about 424 billion web pages, including 25 million books, 5.6 million videos, 10 million audio, half a million software, 3.5 million images. What changes have been made to a site since its inception means that the site controls the version controlling system. Due to which we can easily find out what the site was like. There is also much more necessary information on this site. There are also various helpful footprinting tools through which you can gather a lot of information. Below are the names and links of some popular tools.

  • FOCA (Fingerprinting Organizations with Collected Archives)
  • SearchBug (Finding People, Number, Address)
  • TinEye (Reverse Image Search)
  • Metagoofil (Download all PDF, PPT, DOC File)
  • Exploit Database (Google Hacking Dorks) 

Prevention of Footprinting

  • Control the use of social sites with institutional networks
  • Web servers should be monitored regularly so that data is not leaked
  • To make employees aware of cyber security
  • Not to disseminate critical information of the company through the press, annual report or other means
  • Give as little of your company information on the Internet as possible
  • Deleting your company’s sensitive information online using footprint
  • Inform the employees well about the security policy of the company