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What is Footprinting in Ethical Hacking?

What is Footprinting? This is the first and most important step in hacking, after all. Footprinting is the first step because, in order to successfully hack a target, it is necessary to have knowledge of the target system, operating system, list of available ports, vulnerable services running on each port, vulnerable applications, etc. This is why every hacker performs footprinting even before attacking the target.

What is Footprinting?

The first stage in ethical hacking is footprinting. You can’t directly hack a target; instead, you need information about it. For example, if you want to hack into someone’s computer, you need to know things like Which operating system is in use or is outdated, are any vulnerable services running, are any hardware errors or file configuration issues there, are any vulnerable ports open, etc. Before performing any system attack, a hacker must have this kind of information. In order to attempt a successful attack, the attacker builds a payload or backdoor for that system on the basis of this. After their initial reconnaissance, hackers have a general knowledge of the target system or network.

Types of Footprinting

  • Passive Footprinting:-It is done passively, as the name implies, with no direct contact between the collector and the target. Passive footprinting is the process of gathering information about a target without directly interacting with it. It is a type of footprinting that is most useful when the information-gathering activities must not be detected by the target.
  • Active Footprinting:-In Active footprinting is the process of gathering information about a target through direct interaction. As we interact openly with the target network during active footprinting, the target may recognize the ongoing information-gathering process. This includes conducting onsite surveys, browsing the target’s websites to gather information about the entities involved, making social contact with the target, and so on. Because this process involves a less filtered approach to the target, the chances of detection are high, and methods become more sophisticated as a result.

Objectives of Footprinting?

Information collecting is the foundation of all other information security activities. It helps security professionals gain insight into security problems, which creates a baseline for incident management, in order to help them understand the many situations provided in an assessment. Information gathering is the first step in the creation of an attack plan from the attacker’s view.

Steps of Information Gathering

Information gathering can take place in a number of ways. Some common techniques to do recon work over the internet are

1. Whois and Domain Registry

When a domain name is purchased, the owner must provide some information to the domain registrar. A domain registrar is an organization that manages domains. It is possible to find out the details of the owner of a domain name using a Whois search, resulting in the creation of an information profile. Domain registrars offer data privacy options because this is a very popular method of data collection. Who. is,, and are all popular search engines.

 2. People Search

There are numerous web applications that charge a fee to provide information about people. For this kind of search, the target’s name, phone number, email address, and other details must be available. More appropriate for the United States of America, where such subscription-based services offer a large amount of personal data. Popular websites include and search for company information

There are many sites where you may find information about businesses, including browser blogs and forums. Almost usually, firm personnel uses these methods to commit significant data breaches. Additionally, information is available on blogs and company websites. Using social engineering techniques to obtain information from current or former employees of a company has also proven to be effective. Company promotions on social networking sites are valuable information sources to visit for an explanation. With promotional advertisements, press releases, and articles, newspapers provide invaluable information about organizations. Maltego is an automated tool that crawls through database servers to provide related information about a company or organization.

3. Tracking Target Location

Law enforcement agencies primarily use it to track down cybercriminals. Tracing depends on the situation. For example, when tracing an email, sifting through the header information can help track the servers that an email passed through, as well as, in most cases, the origin. Now that social networking sites include locations in user updates, it can be a useful tool for tracking someone’s location by aggregating inputs over time.

4. Social Networks for Recon

The best place for recon is social media; if you want to learn more about a company, organization, or specific person, you may do so on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. Companies post their contact information, staff photos, upcoming events, and other information on social media sites, making it very easy for hackers to collect all the information there. Hackers can target employees who are less familiar with cyber security and use that information to gain access to the company’s computer or network. Similar to that you can access a lot of information from a LinkedIn profile, if someone uses a password that includes their name, date of birth, or phone number, a hacker can brute force their way in and gain access.

5. MX Entry


MX stands for Mail Exchanger, a DNS record type that contains information about a domain name’s mail exchangers. Nslookup or other DNS diggers can be use to extract this information. This is a very useful method for gathering information about mail exchangers or servers that handle emails, as well as the network of an organization. It is a valuable resource for information. The relevant panel is accessed by typing “nslookup” in the command utility on Windows-based systems. This tool can retrieve a variety of record types in addition to MX entries.

6. Trace Route

It provides information about intermediary devices between two nodes in a network, as the name implies. It not only serves as a network diagnostic tool but also aids in the collection of data about the path taken by data packets from one point to another. In Windows-based systems, use the “tracert” command; in Linux-based devices, use “trace” or “traceroute.” Aside from the route, the displayed reply timings provide a rough estimate of how the network is performing. It reveals the closest devices to the target for penetration testing and security-based information gathering.

7. Crawling and Mirroring websites 

Crawling is the process of navigating a website in order to find outgoing links. Website mirroring is the technique of downloading every page of a website in order to browse and research it. Both of these processes work together to make gathering information on the website much easier. Once the website has been downloaded, all of the constituent elements can be viewed, allowing for a much deeper dive into data collection. Browsing the website could reveal a wealth of information, including employee names, email addresses, phone numbers, and more.


Footprinting is the first stage of ethical hacking. You cannot hack a target directly; instead, you must obtain information about it. after that you can make payload according that.

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