What Does Footprinting Mean?

It refers to the process of gathering as much knowledge as possible about the target process in order to figure out how to hack into it. The majority of an ethical hacker's time is spent analyzing any organization, acquiring knowledge about the host, network, and individuals associated with the company.

IP addresses, Whois data, DNS information, the OS system utilized, employee email addresses, and phone numbers are all collected.

Footprinting is helpful to


Know the Company's Security Position — the information acquired will assist us in determining the company's security posture, such as the presence of a firewall, application security setups, and so on.

Reduce Attack Zone - Can detect a limited number of systems and focus on a single target. This will drastically minimize the number of systems on which we will concentrate our efforts.

Detect attacks - We may create a database including the vulnerabilities, threats, and gaps that exist in the target organization's system.

Identify weaknesses -Build a network map of the target organization's networks, including topology, trusted routers, the availability of servers, and other information.

Footprinting Methodology

Various strategies were utilized to gather data on the target organization. They are

  • Creating a Digital Footprint through Search Engines

This is a passive data collection method in which we obtain information about the target from social media, search engines, and numerous websites. Names, personal information, geographical location details, login sites, intranet portals, and other data are gathered. Search engines may also be used to obtain target specific information such as operating system data, IP addresses, Netblock information, and web application technologies, among other things.

For example, gathering information from Google, Bingo, and so on.

  • Hacking Google:

Google hacking is the process of gathering information by crafting search queries that result in the discovery of sensitive information utilizing Google dorks (keywords).

Compromised passwords, default credentials, competitor information, knowledge on a certain topic, and other facts were obtained.

Inurl: site:,allintitle, and so forth.

  • Analyzing the HTML Source and Cookies:

The HTML source codes of a web application can provide information on the application's functionality, hidden fields, comments, variable names, and so on. Cookies are used to keep track of a user's session. Cookies can be saved in the browser, transmitted in the URL, or included in the HTTP header.

To collect data at our own phase, we may replicate the complete website using technologies like HTTtracker.

Extract website archives: obtaining previous versions of a website may give some information about the target.

  • Competitive intelligence 

Competitive intelligence is the process of obtaining information on rivals from various sources, such as the Internet.

For example, a company's website, a search engine, the internet, online databases, press releases, annual reports, and trade journals are all examples of online databases.

  • Google Dorks/Google Hacking

This is a method of extracting hidden information from search results by utilising Google operators to search particular sequences of text inside the results.

  • EmailFootprinting

The email header contains information about the mail server, the original sender's email id, the internal IP addressing scheme, and the target network's probable architecture.

  • Whois Footprinting

RIR - Regional Internet Registries - manages the Whois databases and servers. Domain Owners' personal information is stored in these databases. Whois is a query response protocol that is used to query Whois databases and is specified in RFC 3912. The Whois tool queries the Internet domain name management system and returns information on a domain name's ownership, address, location, phone numbers, and other facts.

What does reconnaissance indicate?

Reconnaissance, like Footprinting, is a crucial stage in the early hacking process. Attackers gather information in this stage, much like a detective! This procedure entails obtaining data about target defects, vulnerabilities that can be leveraged in penetration testing, and the start of any data breaches.

Any information obtained about the target might be a significant piece of the puzzle in revealing the target's critical vulnerabilities.

DNS Footprinting 

DNS is a computer naming system that transforms human-readable domain names to computer-readable IP addresses and back.

DNS serves queries through UDP port 53. Following that, a zone stores all information, or resource records, connected with a specific domain in a zone file; resource records returned by name servers should contain the following attributes.

Domain Name- Identification of the domain name or record owner

Record Types — defines the data type in the resource record.

Record Class-Identifying a network or protocol family in use

TTL (Time to Live) – Defines how long a record can be kept in cache before being discarded.

Record Data – Information about the resources that is type and class relevant.

A (address) is a mapping between a hostname and an IP address.

Start of Authority- the DNS server responsible for the domain information is identified by the SOA,

CNAME (canonical name)-Additional names or aliases for the address record

MX (mail exchange)—Identifies the domain's mail server.

SRV (service)—is used to identify services like directory services.

PTR (pointer) translates IP addresses into hostnames.

NS (name server)—Identifies the domain's other name servers.

Host Information Records (HINFO)

DNS servers use zone transfers to stay current with the most recent information. A zone transfer of a destination domain returns a list of all public hosts, IP addresses, and record types.

Social Engineering and Footprinting:

Various social engineering tactics are used to obtain information such as personal details, user passwords, and other sensitive information from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Among the approaches used are:

  • Eavesdropping: is the act of intercepting unlawful communication in order to collect data.
  • Shoulder surfing- it involves secretly viewing the target in order to collect sensitive information such as passwords, personal identity information, account information, and so on.
  • Dumpster Diving- technique for gathering sensitive information by rummaging through the rubbish. Many documents are not destroyed before being thrown away in the garbage. Taking these documents out of the garbage might disclose sensitive information such as contact information, financial information, tender information, and so on.

Counter-Footprinting measures include:

  • Increasing staff and user awareness of the perils of social engineering
  • Keeping sensitive information to a minimum
  • Using privacy services on the whois lookup database to encrypt critical information
  • Web servers should be configured to disable directory listings.
  • Deactivate directory listings in the web servers
  • Applying security policies

Our (Company name) digital footprints have the capacity to impact our future. What others discover about us on the internet influences how they perceive and feel about us. Company NameHelp your beginners in understanding their digital footprint and the measures they may take to control what others find out about them online.

So join us to learn Footprinting.


In this post, you learnt about the first steps in hacking, such as obtaining information, scanning, and mapping the network, during the pre-attack phase.

The more information a hacker can obtain, the better their chances of succeeding in their assault. If you strengthen your security from the start, you will lower the chances of an attacker breaking into your system. You can improve your security posture and keep your data safe from hackers by managing your digital footprint.