Footprinting through Web Services - Part 1

In this section, we'll show you how to use web resources, including personal search engines, social networking sites, financial services, third-party data repositories, groups, forums, blogs, and more, to obtain publically available information about the target organisation. Using this information, an attacker may build a hacking strategy to break into the target organization's network and carry out advanced system attacks. 

This topic is divided into two articles. Continue Reading Part 2

Finding the Company's Domains and Sub-domains

The websites of an organization often offer a wealth of important information that is freely accessible to the public, including organisational histories, services and products, and contact details. Sub-domains may provide insights into an organization.  However, a sub-domain may be available to only a few people. These persons can be employees. 

In many organizations, sub-domains are created to test new technologies before deploying to the main server. These sub-domains can be may be insecure or vulnerable. Identifying such sub-domains may reveal critical information such as source code or essential documents from the web server. Most organizations use standard formats for sub-domains which can easily be discoverable by a hacker who knows external URLs. Tools like VirusTotal, Sublist3r, Netcraft or Google Dork ( -inurl:www) can be used to find sub-domains.  

Gathering Information from Financial Services

Financial Services can provide a large amount of useful information such as the market value of a company's shares, company profile, competitor details, stock exchange rates, corporate press releases, and financial reports along with news, and blog search articles about corporations. Services like Google Finance, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, and can be used to gather sensitive information. Additionally, an attacker can use various malicious ways to gain access to obtain private information. 

Monitoring Targets Using Alerts

Services for monitoring content such as delivering automated, current information depending on user preferences is called alerts. Tools such as Google Alerts, Twitter Alerts, and Giga Alerts can help attackers to keep watch on mentions of the organization's name, member names, website, or any other significant individuals or initiatives. Attackers can gather updated information about the target periodically from the alert services and use it for further attacks. 

Tracking Online Reputation of the Target

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is a process of monitoring displays when someone searches for a company's reputation on the Internet. ORM then takes measures to minimize negative search results or reviews. 

We can learn what people are saying about a company's brand in real-time through the web, social media, and news with the aid of online reputation tracking technologies. Organisations frequently aim to be more transparent online in order to manage their internet reputation positively. The attacker might be able to gather general information about the target company with the use of this transparency. Tools like Mention can be used to track online reputation. ORM Tracking tools can be used by an attacker to:
  • Track a company's online reputation
  • Collect a company's search engine ranking information
  • Obtain email notifications when a company is mentioned online
  • Track conversations
  • Obtain social news about the target organization. 

Finding the Geographical Location of the Target

Information such as the physical location of an organization plays a vital role in the hacking process. In addition to the precise location, a hacker can learn about nearby open Wi-Fi hotspots that could provide access to the network of the target company. Attackers may use tools like Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Wikimapia to locate building entrances, security cameras, gates, hiding spots, weak points in perimeter fences, and utility resources like electricity connections, traffic conditions, driving directions, etc.

Attackers who are aware of the location of a target organisation may use social engineering, dumpster diving, spying, and other non-technical attacks to learn more. Unauthorised access to buildings, wired and wireless networks, and systems may be possible using this knowledge. 

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