CEH Practical: Information-Gathering Methodology


Information gathering can be broken into seven logical steps. Footprinting is performed during the first two steps of unearthing initial information and locating the network range.


Footprinting is defined as the process of establishing a scenario or creating a map of an organization's network and systems. Information gathering is also known as footprinting an organization. Footprinting is an important part of reconnaissance process which is typically used for collecting possible information about a targeted computer system or network. Active and Passive both could be Footprinting. The example of passive footprinting is assessment of a company's website, whereas attempting to gain access to sensitive information through social engineering is an example of active information gathering. Basically footprinting is the beginning step of hacker to get hacked someone because having information about targeted computer system is the main aspect of hacking. If you have an information about individual you wanna hack so you can easily hacked that individual. The basic purpose of information gathering is at least decide what type of attacks will be more suitable for the target. Here are some of the pieces of information to be gathered about a target
during footprinting:
  • Domain name
  • Network blocks
  • Network services and applications
  • System architecture
  • Intrusion detection system
  • Authentication mechanisms
  • Specific IP addresses
  • Access control mechanisms
  • Phone numbers
  • Contact addresses
Once this information is assemble, it can give a hacker better perception into the organization, where important information is stored, and how it can be accessed.

Footprinting Tools 

Footprinting can be done using hacking tools, either applications or websites, which allow the hacker to locate information passively. By using these footprinting tools, a hacker can gain some basic information on, or "footprint," the target. By first footprinting the target, a hacker can eliminate tools that will not work against the target systems or network. For example, if a graphics design firm uses all Macintosh computers, then all hacking software that targets Windows systems can be eliminated. Footprinting not only speeds up the hacking process by eliminating certain tool sets but also minimizes the chance of detection as fewer hacking attempts can be made by using the right tool for the job. Some of the common tools used for footprinting and information gathering are as follows:
  • Domain name lookup
  • Whois
  • NSlookup
  • Sam Spade
Before we discuss these tools, keep in mind that open source information can also yield a wealth of information about a target, such as phone numbers and addresses. Performing Whois requests, searching domain name system (DNS) tables, and using other lookup web tools are forms of open source footprinting. Most of this information is fairly easy to get and legal to obtain.

Footprinting a Target 

Footprinting is part of the preparatory pre-attack phase and involves accumulating data regarding a target's environment and architecture, usually for the purpose of finding ways to intrude into that environment. Footprinting can reveal system vulnerabilities and identify the ease with which they can be exploited. This is the easiest way for hackers to gather information about computer systems and the companies they belong to. The purpose of this preparatory phase is to learn as much as you can about a system, its remote access capabilities, its ports and services, and any specific aspects of its security.

DNS Enumeration

DNS enumeration is the process of locating all the DNS servers and their corresponding records for an organization. A company may have both internal and external DNS servers that can yield information such as usernames, computer names, and IP addresses of potential target systems.

NSlookup and DNSstuff

One powerful tool you should be familiar with is NSlookup (see Figure 2.2). This tool queries DNS servers for record information. It's included in Unix, Linux, and Windows operating systems. Hacking tools such as Sam Spade also include NSlookup tools. Building on the information gathered from Whois, you can use NSlookup to find additional IP addresses for servers and other hosts. Using the authoritative name server information from Whois ( AUTH1.NS.NYI.NET ), you can discover the IP address of the mail server.


nslookup www.sitename.com
nslookup www.usociety4.com
Performing DNS Lookup
This search reveals all the alias records for www.google.com and the IP address of the web server. You can even discover all the name servers and associated IP addresses.

Understanding Whois and ARIN Lookups

Whois evolved from the Unix operating system, but it can now be found in many operating systems as well as in hacking toolkits and on the Internet. This tool identifies who has registered domain names used for email or websites. A uniform resource locator (URL), such as www.Microsoft.com , contains the domain name ( Microsoft.com ) and a hostname or alias ( www ).
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires registration of domain names to ensure that only a single company uses a specific domain name. The Whois tool queries the registration database to retrieve contact information about the individual or organization that holds a domain registration.

Using Whois

  • Go to the DNSStuff.com website and scroll down to the free tools at the bottom of the page.
  • Enter your target company URL in the WHOIS Lookup field and click the WHOIS button.
  • Examine the results and determine the following:
    • Registered address
    • Technical and DNS contacts
    • Contact email
    • Contact phone number
    • Expiration date
  • Visit the company website and see if the contact information from WHOIS matches up to any contact names, addresses, and email addresses listed on the website.
  • If so, use Google to search on the employee names or email addresses. You can learn the email naming convention used by the organization, and whether there is any information that should not be publicly available.


whois sitename.com
whois usociety4.com

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