What is Footprinting

Footprinting is the act of gathering information about a computer system and the companies it belongs to. Footprinting is the first step taken by hackers to hack a computer system/network.

Footprinting is important because to hack any system the hacker must first have all the information about that system. Below I have given an example of the steps and services a hacker would use to get information of any system from websites:-

1) First , a hacker would begin by gathering information on the targets website. Generally the things a hecker looks for are e-mail id’s and names. This information is useful when the hacker is planning to attampt a social engineering attack against the company.

2) Next the Hacker would get the IP address of the websiteby going to


Here the Hacker would insert the web URL (website’s name like http://learnhacking.in ) and the website would return the IP address of the website.

Eg:- The IP address of google.com is

The IP address is assigned to Great Britain (UK)

3) Next the Hacker would ping the server to see if its active , up and running . If the server is offline , there is no point trying to hack it. Here’s how to check if a server is active or not.

goto http://just-ping.com and enter either the domain name or IP adress which ever convenient and you will see a large amount of information . Justping pings a website from 34 different locations in the world. If all the packets went  through properly , the server is up else there is no point trying to hack it

4) Next the hacker would do a WhoIs lookup on the company website. Go to http://whois.domaintools.com and put in the target website.  Here you can see that this gives a huge amount of information about the company . You can find information like campany’s e-mails , address , names when the domain was created , when is it going to expire , The name servers and much more!

5)  A hacker can also take advantage of Search Engines to search sites for data. For example, a Hacker could search a website in google by searching the keyword “site:www.target-site.com” ( without qoutes and your target website after www) . This will display every single Page that google has indexed of that website. You can narrow down the number of results bt adding a specific word after the feyword. For eg : The hacker can enter the keyword “site:www.target-site.com email” , this would list several emails that are published on the website .

Another search that can be done is “inurl:robots.txt” (again without quotes) . This would look for a page called robots.txt . Ihis file (robots.txt) us used to display all the directories and pages that a website wishes to keep anonymous from the search engine spiders. Thus , Luckily you might come across some valuable information that was meant to be kept private in this file.

That’s all regarding the basics of foorprinting.

Hope it helps.

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  1. February 14, 2011
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