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What are footprinting tools and methodologies?


Footprinting is the process of collecting information regarding an organization. We can use various tools and methods for this purpose.

The process of footprinting uses a passive approach to gather information, which means that there is no active contact between the hacker and target.

Methodology and tools

Here are some methodologies:

  • Email footprinting
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Footprinting using search engines
  • DNS spoofing
  • Google hacking/Google dorks
  • Cookies
  • Footprinting through social media

1. Email footprinting

In this method, a hacker can trace an email and get information from it. Email footprinting gives us information regarding the sender’s email, name, location, IP address, etc.

We can use the following tools, among others, for email footprinting:

  • Yesware
  • Polite Mail
  • Read Notify
  • eMailTrackerPro, etc.

2. Google hacking/Google dorks

Google hacking or Google dorks is the process in which information is gathered by creating search queries with the help of Google operators. This type of footprinting stores information like passwords or information relevant to any topic or competitor.

Here are some tools that are available to retrieve information:

  • Traceroute
  • NS Lookup
  • Whois

3. Competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence collects the information of any competitor by using different resources. These resources include the internet, which can gather details through the company’s website, online available databases, the company’s annual reports, and more.

4. Cookies

Another method is cookies, which are also used for the identification of the user. Cookies retrieve a user’s browsing history. These cookies can also save the user’s information – such as email addresses or passwords – that they enter in any form while browsing. HTTtrackers is a common example of this methodology.

5. Footprinting with search engines

Search engines also play a significant role in footprinting. User information can be gathered by tracking their searches. A malicious person can also use Google search commands to scan searches like intext, inurl, cache, and more.

6. Footprinting with social media

Various media sites also collect users’ information through different methods or techniques. These techniques include social surfing, dumpster diving, eavesdropping, and more.

7. DNS spoofing

DNS spoofing converts the human-understandable domain names into IP addresses, and vice versa. In this type of footprinting, a zone file saves all the information regarding the domain name. The resource record associated with these names contains the fields below:

  • Domain name
  • Record type
  • Record class
  • Record data
  • Time to live


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