Footprinting means gathering information about a target system which can be used to execute a successful cyber attack. To get this information, a hacker might use various methods with variant tools. This information is the first road for the hacker to crack a system. There are two types of footprintying as following below.

  1. Active Footprinting:
    Active footprinting means to perform footprinting by getting in direct touch with the target machine.
  2. Passive Footprinting:
    Passive foot printing means collecting information of a system located at a remote distance from the attacker.

What kind of information can be gathered from Footprinting?

  • Operating system of the target machine.
  • Firewall.
  • IP address.
  • Network map.
  • Security configurations of the target machine.
  • Email id, password.
  • Server configurations.
  • URLs.
  • VPN.

Sources –

  • Social Media:
    Most of the people has the tendency to release most of their information online. Hackers use these sensitive information in a big deal. They may create a fake account for looking real to be added as friend or to follow someone’s account for grabbing their information.
  • JOB websites:
    Organisations share some confidential data in many JOB websites like . For example, a company posted on a website : “Job Opening for lighttpd 2.0 Server Administrator”. From this information can be gathered that an organisation uses lighttpd web server of version 2.0 .
  • Google:
    Search engines such as Google have the ability to perform more powerful searches than one can think and one had gone through. It can be used by hackers and attackers to do something that has been termed Google hacking. Basic search techniques combined with advanced operators can do a great damage. Sever operators exist like “inurl:”,”allinurl:”,”filetype:”, etc.For example, devices connected to the Internet can be found. A search string such as inurl:”ViewerFrame?Mode=” will find public web cameras. “The “link:” search operator that Google used to have, has been turned off by now (2017)”.

    Google can be used to uncover many pieces of sensitive information that shouldn’t be revealed. A term even exists for the people who blindly post this information on the internet, they are called “Google Dorks”.

  • Social Engineering:
    There are various techniques that fall in this category. A few of them are:

    • Eavesdropping – Attacker tries to record personal conversation of the target victim with someone that’s being held over communication mediums like Telephone.
    • Shoulder Surfing – In this technique Attacker tries to catch the personal information like Email id, password, etc; of the victim by looking over the victim’s shoulder while the same is entering(typing/writing) his/her personal details for some work.

    Sometimes the attacker may trick the victim to grab his personal information. A method that can be used for this is by the method “PHISING”. (PHISING – Its basically creating fake webpages of some websites to trick a naive internet user to grab his personal data. Mostly email-id and passwords of social media accounts.).

    Archived version refers to the older version of the website which existed in a time before and many features of the website has been changed. is a website that collects snapshots of all the website at a regular interval of time. This site can be used to get some information that does not exist now but existed before on the site.
  • An Organization’s Website:
    Its the best place to begin for an attacker. If an attacker wants to look for open source information, which is information freely provided to clients, customers, or the general public then simply the best option is: “ORGANISATION’s WEBSITE”.
  • Using Neo Trace:
    NeoTrace is a powerful tool for getting path information. The graphical display displays the route between you and the remote site, including all intermediate nodes and their information. NeoTrace is a well-known GUI route tracer program. Along with a graphical route, it also displays information on each node such as IP address, contact information, and location.
  • Who is:
    This is a website which serves a good purpose for Hackers. Through this website information about the domain name, email-id, domain owner etc; a website can be traced. Basically this serves a way for Website Footprinting.


  • Footprinting allows Hackers to gather the basic security configurations of a target machine along with network route and data flow.
  • Once attacker finds the vulnerabilities he/she focuses towards a specific area of the target machine.
  • It allows the hacker to identify as to which attack is more handy to hack the target system.

Counter Measures:

  • Avoid posting confidential data in 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.

Note: Solely for educational purpose.


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