Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

The Seven-Step Information Gathering Process


Define the seven-step information gathering process

Define footprinting

Footprinting is about information gathering and is both passive and active. Reviewing the company's website is an example of passive footprinting, whereas calling the help desk and attempting to social engineering them out of privileged information is an example of active information gathering. Scanning entails pinging machines, determining network ranges and port scanning individual systems. The EC-Council divides footprinting and scanning into seven basic steps. These include

  1. Information gathering
  2. Determining the network range
  3. Identifying active machines
  4. Finding open ports and access points
  5. OS fingerprinting
  6. Fingerprinting services
  7. Mapping the network

Many times, students ask for a step-by-step method of information gathering. Realize that these are just general steps and that ethical hacking is really the process of discovery. Although the material in this book is covered in an ordered approach, real life sometimes varies. When performing these activities, you might find that you are led in a different direction than what you originally envisioned.

Information Gathering

The information gathering steps of footprinting and scanning are of utmost importance. Good information gathering can make the difference between a successful pen test and one that has failed to provide maximum benefit to the client. An amazing amount of information is available about most organizations in business today. This information can be found on the organization's website, trade papers, Usenet, financial databases, or even from disgruntled employees. Some potential sources are discussed, but first, let's review documentation.


One important aspect of information gathering is documentation. Most people don't like paperwork, but it's a requirement that can't be ignored. The best way to get off to a good start is to develop a systematic method to profile a target and record the results. Create a matrix with fields to record domain name, IP address, DNS servers, employee information, email addresses, IP address range, open ports, and banner details. Figure 3.1 gives an example of what your information matrix might look like when you start the documentation process.


Figure 3.1 Documentation finding.

Building this type of information early on will help in mapping the network and planning the best method of attack.

The Organization's Website

With the initial documentation out of the way, it's time to get started. The best place to begin is the organization's website. You want to look for open source information, which is information freely provided to clients, customers, or the general public. Let's look at an example of a local web hosting company. A quick review of its site shows it has a news and updates section. Recent news states the following:

"We are proud to have just updated all of our Cobalt servers to Plesk7 Virtual Site Servers. Anyone logging in to these new servers as admin should use the username of the domain, for example, www.xyz.com. The passwords have been transferred from the old servers, so no password reset should be required. We used the existing domain administrator password. Our continued alliance with Enterasys has allowed us to complete our transition from Cisco equipment. These upgrades, along with our addition of a third connection to the Internet, give us a high degree of fault tolerance."

You might consider this good marketing information to provide potential clients. The problem is that this information is available to anyone who browses the website. This information allows attackers to know that the new systems are Linux-based and that the network equipment is all Enterasys. If attackers were planning to launch a denial of service (DoS) attack against the organization, they now know that they must knock out three nodes to the Internet. Even a competitor would benefit from this knowledge as the company is telling the competition everything about its infrastructure.

Another big information leakage point is the company directories. These usually identify key employees or departments. By combining this information with a little social engineering, an attacker can call the help desk, pretend he works for one of these key employees, and demand that a password be reset or changed. He could also use biographical information about a key employee to perform other types of social engineering trickery. Kevin Mitnick used just this type of attack to gain access to restricted code that detailed the operation of Motorola cell phones. During a pen test, you will want to record any such findings and make sure to alert the organization as to what information is available and how it might be used in an attack.

Job Boards

If you're lucky, the company has a job posting board. Look this over carefully, as you will be surprised at how much information is given here. If no job listings are posted on the organization's website, get interactive and check out some of the major Internet job boards. Some popular sites are

Once at the job posting site, query for the organization. Here's an example of the type of information typically found:

  • Primary responsibilities for this position include management of a Windows 2000 Active Directory environment, including MS Exchange 2000, SQL 2000, and Citrix.
  • Interact with the technical support supervisor to resolve issues and evaluate/maintain patch level and security updates.
  • Experience necessary in: Active Directory, Microsoft Clustering and Network Load-Balancing, MS Exchange 2000, MS SQL 2000, Citrix MetaFrame XP, EMC CX-400 SAN-related or other enterprise level SAN, Veritas Net Backup, BigBrother, and NetIQ Monitoring SW.
  • Maintain, support, and troubleshoot a Windows NT/2000 LAN.

Did these organizations give away any information that might be valuable to an attacker? They actually have told attackers almost everything about their network. Just the knowledge that the organization is still running Windows NT/2000 is extremely valuable.

Alternative Websites

If information is leaked on a company website, it cannot always be quickly removed. So, what if sensitive information is on a website that an organization does not control? There's always the chance that disgruntled employees might have leaked this information on purpose. That's why any good information gathering process will include visiting the darker corners of the Internet. Layoffs, reductions in force, and outsourcing are the types of events that don't necessarily put the staff in the best of moods. It could be that the organization's insiders have posted information that could be rather damaging. These unhappy individuals are potential sources of information leakage. This information might be posted on a blog, some type of "sucks" domain, or other site. Shown in Figure 3.2 is the Gap sucks domain. Although the legality of these domains depends on the type of information provided and their status as a non-commercial entity, their existence is something you should be aware of.


Figure 3.2 GAPSucks.org.

Frustrated employees will always find some way to vent their thoughts even if not from a "sucks" domain. One such site that might offer other insider information is internalmemos.com. This site lists information that is usually sensitive and that probably shouldn't be released to the general public. Although some of the content is free, most of the content is considered premium and must be purchased to be viewed. One such document found after a search on the word "security" is shown in Figure 3.3. Don't be surprised at what you find on this site or others like it.


Figure 3.3 Internalmemos.com.

Some other sites that can be used to gather information about the target organization and its employees include

  • zabasearch.com Contains names, addresses, phone numbers, date of birth, and other information about individuals.
  • anywho.com Phone book offering forward and reverse lookups.
  • maps.yahoo.com Yahoo! map site.

In combination, these sites allow attackers to locate key individuals, identify their home phone numbers, and even create maps to their houses. Attackers can even see the surroundings of the company or the home they are targeting with great quality satellite pictures.

EDGAR Database

If the organization you are working for is publicly traded, you will want to review the Security and Exchange commision's EDGAR database. It's located at www.sec.gov. A ton of information is available at this site. Hackers focus on the 10-Q and 10-K. These two documents contain yearly and quarterly reports. Not only do these documents contain earnings and potential revenue, but also details about any acquisitions and mergers. Anytime there is a merger or one firm acquires another, there is a rush to integrate the two networks. Having the networks integrated is more of an immediate concern than security. Therefore, you will be looking for entity names that are different from the parent organization. These findings might help you discover ways to jump from the subsidiary to the more secure parent company. You will want to record this information and have it ready when you start to research the IANA and ARIN databases.

Google Hacking

Most of us use Google or another search engine to locate information. What you might not know is that search engines, such as Google, have the capability to perform much more powerful searches than most people ever dream of. Not only can Google translate documents, perform news searches, do image searches, but it can also be used by hackers and attackers to do something that has been termed Google hacking. By using basic search techniques combined with advanced operators, Google can become a powerful vulnerability search tool. Some advanced operators include those shown in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1. Google Search Terms




This operator directs Google to search only within the test of a particular type of file. Example: filetype:xls


This operator directs Google to search only within the specified URL of a document. Example: inurl:search-text


The link operator directs Google to search within hyperlinks for a specific term. Example link:www.domain.com


The intitle operator directs Google to search for a term within the title of a document. Example intitle: "Index of...etc"

By using the advanced operators shown in Table 3.1 in combination with key terms, Google can be used to uncover many pieces of sensitive information that shouldn't be revealed. A term even exists for the people who blindly post this information on the Internet; they are called google dorks. To see how this works, enter the following phrase into Google:


This query will search in a URL for the tsweb/default.htm string. The search found over 200 sites that had the tsweb/default folder. One of these sites is shown in Figure 3.4.


Figure 3.4 Google hacking TSWeb.

As you can see, this could represent an easy way for a hacker to log directly in to the organization's servers. Also, notice that there is no warning banner or other notice that unauthorized users should not attempt to connect. Finally, don't forget that finding a vulnerability using Google is not unethical, but using that vulnerability is unless you have written permission from the domain owner. To learn more about Google hacking, take a look at http://johnny.ihackstuff.com. The site's owner, Johnny Long, has also written an excellent book on the subject, Google Hacking for Penetration Testers.


USENET is a user's network, which is nothing more than a collection of the thousands of discussion groups that reside on the Internet. Each discussion group contains information and messages centered on a specific topic. Messages are posted and responded to by readers either as public or private emails. Even without direct access to USENET, a convenient way to browse the content is by using Google Groups. Google Groups allow any Internet user a way to post and read USENET messages. During a penetration test, you will want to review Google Groups for postings from the target company.

One way to search is to use individual's names you might have uncovered; another is to do a simple search of the company. Searching for @company.com will work. Many times, this will reveal useful information. One company that I performed some work for had listings from the network administrator. He had been asked to set up a new router and was having trouble getting it configured properly. The administrator had not only asked the group for help, but had also posted the router configuration to see if someone could help figure out what was wrong. The problem was that the configuration file had not been sanitized and not only contained IP addresses but also the following information:

enable secret 5 $1$2RKf$OMOAcvzpb7j9uhfw6C5Uj1

enable password 7 583132656321654949

For those of you who might not be Cisco gurus, those are encrypted passwords. Sure, they are encrypted, but given enough time, there's the possibility that they might be cracked. Others of you who say that it's only router passwords might be right, but let's hope that the administrator doesn't reuse passwords as many people do. As you can see, you can gain additional information about an organization and its technical strengths just by uncovering a few USENET posts.

Insecure Applications

Most applications really aren't bad. Some are more insecure than others, but when deployed with layered controls and properly patched, risk can be minimized. When defense in depth isn't used, problems start to arise. Defense in depth is the layering of one defensive mechanism after another. A case in point is the program Big Brother (www.bb4.com).

Big Brother is a program that can be used to monitor computer equipment. It can monitor and report the status of items, such as the central processing unit (CPU) utilization, disk usage, ssh status, http status, pop3 status, telnet status, and so on. Unlike Simple Network Monitoring Protocol (SNMP) in which information is just collected and devices polled, Big Brother can collect this information and forward it to a central web page or location. This makes it a valuable tool to the administrator in that it provides one central location to review network status and indicates status with a simple red/green interface. Problems are indicated in red, whereas operational systems are indicated in green. You might be asking yourself, okay, so what's the problem with all this?

The problem is in how the administrator might have set up or configured Big Brother. Big Brother doesn't need to run as root; therefore, the installation guide recommends that the user create a user named bb and configure that user with user privileges. Unless the administrator has changed this, you now know a valid user account on a system. Because the account isn't used by a human, it might have an easy password or one that is not changed often. The makers of Big Brother also recommend that the web page used to store the information Big Brother generates be password protected. After all, this is extremely sensitive information. If this information has not been protected, all someone must do is go to www.google.com and search for "green:big brother." If you scroll through the lists of sites and simply click on one, you'll be taken to a page that displays systems, IP addresses, services, and versions

It's only taken a few minutes for an attacker to gather this type of information, and it's completely legal. These pages are posted so that the entire world can read them. Security professionals should always be concerned about what kind of information is posted on the Web and who can access it.

Registrar Query

Not long ago, searching for domain name information was much easier. There were only a few places to obtain domain names, and the activities of spammers and hackers had yet to cause the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to restrict the release of this information. Today, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the primary body charged with management of IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, and domain name system management. Its role is really that of overall management, as domain name registration is handled by a number of competing firms that offer various value added services. These include firms such as networksolutions.com, register.com, godaddy.com, and tucows.com. There is also a series of Regional Internet Registries (RIR) that manage, distribute, and register public IP addresses within their respective regions. There are four primary RIRs with a fifth planned to support Africa. These are shown in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2. RIRs and Their Area of Control


Region of Control


North and South America and SubSaharan Africa


Asia and Pacific


Europe, Middle East, and parts of Africa


Latin America and the Caribbean


Planned RIR to support Africa

The primary tool to navigate these databases is Whois. Whois is a utility that interrogates the Internet domain name administration system and returns the domain ownership, address, location, phone number, and other details about a specified domain name. Whois is the primary tool used to query Domain Name Services (DNS). If you're performing this information gathering from a Linux computer, the good news is Whois is built in. From the Linux prompt, users can type in whois domainname.com or whois? to get a list of various options. Windows users are not as fortunate as Linux users because Windows does not have a built-in Whois client. Windows users will have to use a third-party tool or website to obtain Whois information. One tool that a Windows user can use to perform Whois lookups is Sam Spade. It can be downloaded from www.samspade.org/ssw/download.html. Sam Spade contains a lot more utilities that just Whois, such as ping, finger, and traceroute. There's also a variety of websites that you can use to obtain Whois information. Some of these include

Regardless of the tool, the goal is to obtain registrar information. As an example, the following listing shows the results after www.samspade.org is queried for information on www.exam-cram.com:

      Pearson Technology Centre
      Kenneth Simmons
      200 Old Tappan Rd .
      Old Tappan, NJ 07675 USA
      Email: billing@superlibrary.com
 Phone: 001-201-7846187
   Registrar Name....: REGISTER.COM, INC.
   Registrar Whois...: whois.register.com
   Registrar Homepage: www.register.com
DNS Servers:

This information provides a contact person, address, phone number, and DNS servers. A hacker skilled in the art of social engineering might use this information to call the organization and pretend to be Kenneth, or he might use the phone number to war dial a range of phone numbers looking for modems.

DNS Enumeration

The attacker has also identified the names of the DNS servers. DNS servers might be targeted for zone transfers. A zone transfer is the mechanism used by DNS servers to update each other by transferring the contents of their database. DNS is structured as a hierarchy so that when you request DNS information, your request is passed up the hierarchy until a DNS server is found that can resolve the domain name request. You can get a better idea of how DNS is structured by examining Figure 3.5. There is a total of 13 DNS root servers.


Figure 3.5 DNS structure.

What's left at this step is to try and gather additional information from the organization's DNS servers. The primary tool to query DNS servers is nslookup. Nslookup provides machine name and address information. Both Linux and Windows have nslookup clients. Nslookup is used by typing nslookup from the command line followed by an IP address or a machine name. Doing so will cause nslookup to return the name, all known IP addresses, and all known CNAMES for the identified machine. Nslookup queries DNS servers for machine name and address information. Using nslookup is rather straightforward. Let's look at an example in which nslookup is used to find out the IP addresses of Google's web servers. By entering nslookup www.google.com , the following response is obtained:

C:\>nslookup www.google.com
Server:  dnsr1.sbcglobal.net
Non-authoritative answer:
Name:    www.l.google.com
Aliases:  www.google.com

The first two lines of output say which DNS servers are being queried. In this case, it's dnsr1.sbcglobal.net in Texas. The non-authoritative answer lists two IP addresses for the Google web servers. Responses from non-authoritative servers do not contain copies of any domains. They have a cache file that is constructed from all the DNS lookups it has performed in the past for which it has gotten an authoritative response.

Nslookup can also be used in an interactive mode by just typing nslookup at the command prompt. In interactive mode, the user will be given a prompt of >; at which point, the user can enter a variety of options, including attempts to perform a zone transfer.

DNS normally moves information from one DNS server to another through the DNS zone transfer process. If a domain contains more than one name server, only one of these servers will be the primary. Any other servers in the domain will be secondary servers. Zone transfers are much like the DHCP process in that each is a four-step process. DNS zone transfers function as follows:

  1. The secondary name server starts the process by requesting the SOA record from the primary name server.
  2. The primary then checks the list of authorized servers, and if the secondary server's name is on that list, the SOA record is sent.
  3. The secondary must then check the SOA record to see if there is a match against the SOA it already maintains. If the SOA is a match, the process stops here; however, if the SOA has a serial number that is higher, the secondary will need an update. The serial number indicates if changes were made since the last time the secondary server synchronized with the primary server. If an update is required, the secondary name server will send an All Zone Transfer (AXFR) request to the primary server.
  4. Upon receipt of the AXFR, the primary server will send the entire zone file to the secondary name server.

Some common DNS resource record names and types are shown in Table 3.3.

Table 3.3. DNS Records and Types

Record Name

Record Type




Maps a domain name to an IP address



Maps an IP address to a domain name

Name Server


Configures settings for zone transfers and record caching

Start of Authority


Configures settings for zone transfers and record caching

Service Locator


Used to locate services in the network



Used to identify SMTP servers

A zone transfer is unlike a normal lookup in that the user is attempting to retrieve a copy of the entire zone file for a domain from a DNS server. This can provide a hacker or pen tester with a wealth of information. This is not something that the target organization should be allowing. Unlike lookups that primarily occur on UDP 53, unless the response is greater than 512 bytes, zone transfers use TCP 53. To attempt a zone transfer, you must be connected to a DNS server that is the authoritative server for that zone. Remember the nslookup information we previously gathered? It's shown here again for your convenience.

      Pearson Technology Centre
      Kenneth Simmons
      200 Old Tappan Rd .
      Old Tappan, NJ 07675 USA
      Email: billing@superlibrary.com
 Phone: 001-201-7846187
   Registrar Name....: REGISTER.COM, INC.
   Registrar Whois...: whois.register.com
   Registrar Homepage: www.register.com
DNS Servers:

Review the last two entries. Both usrxdns1.pearsontc.com and oldtxdns2.pearsontc.com are the DNS authoritative servers for ExamCram.com. These are the addresses that an attacker will target to attempt a zone transfer. The steps to try and force a zone transfer are shown here:

  1. nslookup—Enter nslookup from the command line.
  2. server <ipaddress>—Enter the IP address of the authoritative server for that zone.
  3. set type = any—Tells nslookup to query for any record.
  4. ls –d <domain.com>—Domain.com is the name of the targeted domain of the final step that performs the zone transfer.

One of two things will happen at this point; either you will receive an error message indicating that the transfer was unsuccessful, or you will be returned a wealth of information, as shown in the following:

Default Server:  dnsr1.sbcglobal.net

set type=any
ls -d example.com

example.com.        SOA hostmaster.sbc.net (950849 21600 3600 1728000 3600)
example.com.        NS     auth100.ns.sbc.net
example.com.        NS     auth110.ns.sbc.net
example.com.        A
example.com.        MX     10   dallassmtpr1.example.com
example.com.        MX     20   dallassmtpr2.example.com
example.com.        MX     30   lasmtpr1.example.com
lasmtpr1            A
dallassmtpr1        A
dallaslink2         A
spamassassin        A
dallassmtpr2        A
dallasextra         A
dallasgate          A
lalink              A
dallassmtp1         A
nygate              A
www                 A
dallassmtp          MX     10   dallassmtpr1.example.com
dallassmtp          MX     20   dallassmtpr2.example.com
dallassmtp          MX     30   lasmtpr1.example.com

This type of information should not be made available to just anyone. Hackers can use this to find out what other servers are running on the network, and it can help them map the network and formulate what types of attacks to launch. Notice the first line that has example.com listed previously. Observe the final value of 3600 on that line. That is the TTL value discussed previously which would inform a hacker as to how long DNS poisoning would last. 3,600 seconds is 60 minutes. Zone transfers are intended for use by secondary DNS servers to synchronize with their primary DNS server. You should make sure that only specific IP addresses are allowed to request zone transfers. Although most Operating Systems restrict this by default, Windows 2000 did not. So, be aware of this if any 2000 servers are still in your network.

Determining the Network Range


Locate the network range

Now that the pen test team has been able to locate name, phone numbers, addresses, some server names, and IP addresses, it's important to find out what range of IP addresses are available for scanning and further enumeration. If you take the IP address of a web server discovered earlier and enter it into the Whois lookup at www.arin.net, the network's range can be determined. As an example, was entered into the ARIN Whois, and the following information was received:

OrgName:    target network
OrgID:      Target-2
Address:    1313 Mockingbird Road
City:       Anytown
StateProv:  Tx
PostalCode: 72341
Country:    US
ReferralServer: rwhois://rwhois.exodus.net:4321/
NetRange: -
NetName:    SAVVIS
NetHandle:  NET-192-17-12-0-1
Parent:     NET-192-0-0-0-0

This means that the target network has 254 total addresses. The attacker can now focus his efforts on the range from to /24. If these results don't prove satisfactory, traceroute can be used for additional mapping.



Specify how traceroute works

The traceroute utility is used to determine the path to a target computer. Just as with nslookup, traceroute is available on Windows and UNIX platforms. In Windows, it is known as tracert because of 8.3 legacy filename constraints remaining from DOS. Traceroute was originally developed by Van Jacobson to view the path a packet follows from its source to its destination. Traceroute owes its functionality to the IP header time-to-live (TTL) field. You might remember from the discussion in Chapter 2, "The Technical Foundations of Hacking," that the TTL field is used to limit IP datagram's. Without a TTL, some IP datagram's might travel the Internet forever as there would be no means of timeout. TTL functions as a decrementing counter. Each hop that a datagram passes through reduces the TTL field by one. If the TTL value reaches 0, the datagram is discarded and a time exceeded in transit Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) message is created to inform the source of the failure. Linux tracer-oute is based on UDP, whereas Windows uses ICMP.

To get a better idea of how this works, let's take a look at how Windows would process a tracer-oute. For this example, say that the target is three hops away. Windows would send out a packet with a TTL of 1. Upon reaching the first router, the packet TTL value would be decremented to 0, which would illicit a time exceeded in transit error message. This message would be sent back to the sender to indicate that the packet did not reach the remote host. Receipt of the message would inform Windows that it had yet to reach its destination, and the IP of the device in which the datagram timed out would be displayed. Next, Windows would increase the TTL to a value of 2. This datagram would make it through the first router, where the TTL value would be decremented to 1. Then it would make it through the second router; at which time, the TTL value would be decremented to 0 and the packet would expire. Therefore, the second router would create a time exceeded in transit error message and forward it to the original source. The IP address of this device would next be displayed on the user's computer. Finally, the TTL would be increased to 3. This datagram would easily make it past the first and second hop and arrive at the third hop. Because the third hop is the last hop before the target, the router would forward the packet to the destination and the target would issue a normal ICMP ping response. The output of this traceroute can be seen here:

Tracing route to
1    10 ms   <10 ms   <10 ms
2    10 ms    10 ms    20 ms
3    20 ms    20 ms    20 ms
Trace complete.

Linux-based versions of traceroute work much the same way but use UDP. Traceroute sends these UDP packets targeted to high order port numbers that nothing should be listening on. Just as described previously, the TTL is increased until the target device is reached. Because traceroute is using a high order UDP port, typically 33434, the host should ignore the packets after generating port unreachable messages. These ICMP port unreachable messages are used by traceroute to notify the source that the destination has been reached.

It's advisable to check out more than one version of traceroute if you don't get the required results. Some techniques can also be used to try and slip traceroute passed a firewall or filtering device. When UDP and ICMP are not allowed on the remote gateway, TCPTraceroute can be used. Another unique technique was developed by Michael Schiffman, who created a patch called traceroute.diff that allows you to specify the port that traceroute will use. With this handy tool, you could easily direct traceroute to use UDP port 53. Because that port is used for DNS queries, there's a good chance that it could be used to slip past the firewall. If you're looking for a GUI program to perform traceroute with, several are available, which are described here:

  • NeoTrace— NeoTrace is a powerful tool for mapping path information. The graphical display shows you the route between you and the remote site, including all intermediate nodes and their registrant information. NeoTrace is probably the most well-known GUI traceroute program. Along with a graphical map, it also displays information on each node such as IP address, contact information, and location. NeoTrace can be seen in Figure 3.6. That trace shows the results of a traceroute to Microsoft.com. Just remember that NeoTrace builds from provided information that is entered into the routers, and it might not always be accurate.

    Figure 3.6 NeoTrace.

  • Trout— Trout is another visual traceroute and Whois program. What's great about this program is its speed. Unlike traditional traceroute programs, trout performs parallel pinging. By sending packets with more than one TTL at a time, it can quickly determine the path to a targeted device.
  • VisualRoute— VisualRoute is another graphical traceroute for Windows. VisualRoute not only shows a graphical world map that displays the path packets are taking, but it also lists information for each hop, including IP address, node name, and geographical location.

Traceroute and ping are useful tools for identifying active systems, mapping their location, and learning more about their location. To learn more about these tools, take a few moments to complete the following challenge exercise:

Identifying Active Machines


Identify active machines

Attackers will want to know if machines are alive before they attempt to attack. One of the most basic methods of identifying active machines is to perform a ping sweep. Although ping is found on just about every system running TCP/IP, it has been restricted by many organizations. Ping uses ICMP and works by sending an echo request to a system and waiting for the target to send an echo reply back. If the target device is unreachable, a request time out is returned. Ping is a useful tool to identify active machines and to measure the speed at which packets are moved from one host to another or to get details like the TTL. Figure 3.7 shows a ping capture from a Windows computer. If you take a moment to examine the ASCII decode in the bottom-left corner, you will notice that the data in the ping packet is composed of the alphabet, which is unlike a Linux ping, which would contain numeric values. That's because the RFC that governs ping doesn't specify what's carried in the packet as payload. Vendors fill in this padding as they see fit. Unfortunately, this can also serve hackers as a covert channel. However, hackers can use a variety of programs to place their own information in place of the normal padding. Then what appears to be normal pings are actually a series of messages entering and leaving the network.


Figure 3.7 Ping capture.

Ping does have a couple of drawbacks: First, only one system at a time is pinged and second, not all networks allow ping. To ping a large amount of hosts, a ping sweep is usually performed. Programs that perform ping sweeps typically sweep through a range of devices to determine which ones are active. Some of the programs that will perform ping sweeps include

  • Angry IP Scanner
  • Pinger
  • WS_Ping_ProPack
  • Network scan tools
  • Super Scan
  • Nmap

Finding Open Ports and Access Points


Understand how to map open ports and identify their underlying applications

With knowledge of the network range and a list of active devices, the next step is to identify open ports and access points. Identifying open ports will go a long way toward potential attack vectors. There is also the possibility of using war dialing programs to find ways around an organization's firewall. If the organization is located close by, the attacker might war drive the area to look for open access points.

Port Scanning


Describe the differences between TCP and UDP scanning

Port scanning is the process of connecting to TCP and UDP ports for the purpose of finding what services and applications are running on the target device. After running applications, open ports and services are discovered, the hacker can then determine the best way to attack the system.

As discussed in Chapter 2, there are a total of 65,535 TCP and UDP ports. These port numbers are used to identify a specific process that a message is coming from or going to. Some common port numbers are shown in Table 3.6.

Table 3.6. Common Ports and Protocols





































As you have probably noticed, some of these applications run on TCP, whereas others run on UDP. Although it is certainly possible to scan for all 65,535 TCP and 65,535 UDP ports, many hackers will not. They will concentrate on the first 1,024 ports. These well-known ports are where we find most of the commonly used applications. A list of well-known ports can be found at www.iana.org/assignments/port-numbers. Now, this is not to say that high order ports should be totally ignored because hackers might break into a system and open a high order port, such as 31337, to use as a backdoor. So, is one protocol easier to scan for than the other? Well, the answer to that question is yes. TCP offers more opportunity for the hacker to manipulate than UDP. Let's take a look at why.

TCP offers robust communication and is considered a connection protocol. TCP establishes a connection by using what is called a 3-way handshake. Those three steps proceed as follows:

  1. The client sends the server a TCP packet with the sequence number flag (SYN Flag) set and an Initial Sequence Number (ISN).
  2. The server replies by sending a packet with the SYN/ACK flag set to the client. The synchronize sequence number flag informs the client that it would like to communicate with it, whereas the acknowledgement flag informs the client that it received its initial packet. The acknowledgement number will be one digit higher than the client's ISN. The server will generate an ISN as well to keep track of every byte sent to the client.
  3. When the client receives the server's packet, it creates an ACK packet to acknowledge that the data has been received from the server. At this point, communication can begin.

The TCP header contains a one-byte field for the flags. These flags can be seen in Table 3.7.

Table 3.7. TCP Flag Types




Synchronize and Initial Sequence Number (ISN)


Acknowledgement of packets received


Final data flag used during the 4-step shutdown of a session


Reset bit used to close an abnormal connection


Push data bit used to signal that data in the packet should be pushed to the beginning of the queue. Usually indicates an urgent message.


Urgent data bit used to signify that urgent control characters are present in this packet that should have priority.

At the conclusion of communication, TCP terminates the session by using a 4-step shutdown. Those four steps proceed as follows:

  1. The client sends the server a packet with the FIN/ACK flags set.
  2. The server sends a packet ACK flag set to acknowledge the clients packet.
  3. The server then generates another packet with the FIN/ACK flags set to inform the client that it also is ready to conclude the session.
  4. The client sends the server a packet with the ACK flag set to conclude the session.

The TCP system of communication makes for robust communication but also allows a hacker many ways to craft packets in an attempt to coax a server to respond or to try and avoid detection of an intrusion detection system (IDS). Many of these methods are built into Nmap and other port scanning tools, but before taking a look at those tools, some of the more popular port scanning techniques are listed here:

  • TCP Connect scan— This type of scan is the most reliable, although it is also the most detectable. It is easily logged and detected because a full connection is established. Open ports reply with a SYN/ACK, whereas closed ports respond with an RST/ACK.
  • TCP SYN scan— This type of scan is known as half open because a full TCP three-way connection is not established. This type of scan was originally developed to be stealthy and evade IDS systems although most now detect it. Open ports reply with a SYN/ACK, whereas closed ports respond with a RST/ACK.
  • TCP FIN scan— Forget trying to set up a connection; this technique jumps straight to the shutdown. This type of scan sends a FIN packet to the target port. Closed ports should send back an RST. This technique is usually effective only on UNIX devices.
  • TCP NULL scan— Sure, there should be some type of flag in the packet, but a NULL scan sends a packet with no flags set. If the OS has implemented TCP per RFC 793, closed ports will return an RST.
  • TCP ACK scan— This scan attempts to determine access control list (ACL) rule sets or identify if stateless inspection is being used. If an ICMP destination unreachable, communication administrative prohibited message is returned, the port is considered to be filtered.
  • TCP XMAS scan— Sorry, there are no Christmas presents here, just a port scan that has toggled on the FIN, URG, and PSH flags. Closed ports should return an RST.

Certain OSes have taken some liberties when applying the TCP/IP RFCs and do things their own way. Because of this, not all scan types will work against all systems. So, results will vary, but Full Connect scans and SYN scans should work against all systems.

These are not the only types of possible scans; however, they are the more popular types. A few others worth briefly noting include

  • IDLE scan— Uses an idle host to bounce packets off of and make the scan harder to trace. It is considered the only totally stealth scan.
  • FTP Bounce scan— Uses an FTP server to bounce packets off of and make the scan harder to trace.
  • RPC scan— Attempts to determine if open ports are RPC ports.
  • Window scan— Similar to an ACK scan, but can sometimes determine open ports.

Now let's look at UDP scans. UDP is unlike TCP. Although TCP is built on robust connections, UDP is based on speed. With TCP, the hacker has the ability to manipulate flags in an attempt to generate a TCP response or an error message from ICMP. UDP does not have flags, nor does UDP issue responses. It's a fire and forget protocol! The most you can hope for is a response from ICMP.

If the port is closed, ICMP will attempt to send an ICMP type 3 code 3 port unreachable message to the source of the UDP scan. But, if the network is blocking ICMP, no error message will be returned. Therefore, the response to the scans might simply be no response. If you are planning on doing UDP scans, plan for unreliable results.

Next some of the programs that can be used for port scanning are discussed.



Use tools such as Nmap to perform port scanning and know common Nmap switches

Nmap was developed by a hacker named Fyodor Yarochkin. This popular application is available for Windows and Linux as a GUI and command-line program. It is probably the most widely used port scanner ever developed. It can do many types of scans and OS identification. It also allows you to control the speed of the scan from slow to insane. Its popularity can be seen by the fact that it's incorporated into other products and was even used in the movie The Matrix. Nmap with the help option is shown here so that you can review some of its many switches.

C:\nmap-3.93>nmap -h
Nmap 3.93 Usage: nmap [Scan Type(s)] [Options] <host or net list>
Some Common Scan Types ('*' options require root privileges)
* -sS TCP SYN stealth port scan (default if privileged (root))
  -sT TCP connect() port scan (default for unprivileged users)
* -sU UDP port scan
  -sP ping scan (Find any reachable machines)
* -sF,-sX,-sN Stealth FIN, Xmas, or Null scan (experts only)
  -sV Version scan probes open ports determining service and app names/versions
 -sR/-I RPC/Identd scan (use with other scan types)
Some Common Options (none are required, most can be combined):
* -O Use TCP/IP fingerprinting to guess remote operating system
  -p <range> ports to scan. Example range: '1-1024,1080,6666,31337'
  -F Only scans ports listed in nmap-services
  -v Verbose. Its use is recommended Use twice for greater effect.
  -P0 Don't ping hosts (needed to scan www.microsoft.com and others)
* -Ddecoy_host1,decoy2[,...] Hide scan using many decoys
  -6 scans via IPv6 rather than IPv4
  -T <Paranoid|Sneaky|Polite|Normal|Aggressive|Insane> General timing policy
  -n/-R Never do DNS resolution/Always resolve [default: sometimes resolve]
  -oN/-oX/-oG <logfile> Output normal/XML/grepable scan logs to <logfile>
  -iL <inputfile> Get targets from file; Use '-' for stdin
* -S <your_IP>/-e <devicename> Specify source address or network interface
  --interactive Go into interactive mode (then press h for help)
  --win_help Windows-specific features
Example: nmap -v -sS -O www.my.com '192.88-90.*.*'

As can be seen from the output of the help menu in the previous listing, Nmap can run many types of scans. Nmap is considered a required tool for all ethical hackers. Nmap's output provides the open port's well-known service name, number, and protocol. They can either be open, closed, or filtered. If a port is open, it means that the target device will accept connections on that port. A closed port is not listening for connections, and a filtered port means that a firewall, filter, or other network device is guarding the port and preventing Nmap from fully probing it or determining its status. If a port is reported as unfiltered, it means that the port is closed and no firewall or router appears to be interfering with Nmap's attempts to determine its status. To run Nmap from the command line, type Nmap , followed by the switch, and then enter a single IP address or a range. For the example shown here, the –sT option was used, which performs a TCP full 3-step connection.

C:\nmap-3.93>nmap -sT
Starting nmap 3.93 (http://www.insecure.org/nmap) at 2005-10-05 23:42 Central
Daylight Time
Interesting ports on Server (
(The 1653 ports scanned but not shown below are in state: filtered)
80/tcp  open  http
139/tcp open  netbios-ssn
515/tcp open  printer
548/tcp open  afpovertcp
Nmap run completed -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 420.475 seconds

Several interesting ports were found on this computer, including 80 and 139. A UDP scan performed with the -sU switch returned the following results:

C:\nmap-3.93>nmap -sU
Starting nmap 3.93 (http://www.insecure.org/nmap) at 2005-10-05 23:47 Central
Daylight Time
Interesting ports on Server (
(The 1653 ports scanned but not shown below are in state: filtered)
69/udp  open  tftp
139/udp open  netbios-ssn
Nmap run completed -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 843.713 seconds

Nmap also has a GUI version called NmapFE. Most of the options in NmapFe correspond directly to the command-line version. Some people call NmapFe the Nmap tutor because it displays the command-line syntax at the bottom of the GUI interface. It is no longer updated for Windows but is maintained for the Linux platform. This can be seen in Figure 3.8.


Figure 3.8 NmapFE.


Version 4 of SuperScan is written to run on Windows XP and 2000. It's a versatile TCP/UDP port scanner, pinger, and hostname revolver. It can perform ping scans and port scans using a range of IP addresses, or it can scan a single host. It also has the capability to resolve or reverse-lookup IP addresses. It builds an easy-to-use HTML report that contains a complete breakdown of the hosts that were scanned. This includes information on each port and details about any banners that were found. It's free; therefore it is another tool that all ethical hackers should have. To get a better look at the interface, review Figure 3.9.


Figure 3.9 SuperScan.


THC-Amap is another example of scanning and banner grabbing. One problem that traditional scanning programs have is that not all services are ready and eager to give up the appropriate banner. For example, some services, such as SSL, expect a handshake. Amap handles this by storing a collection of responses that it can fire off at the port to interactively elicit it to respond. Another problem is that scanning programs sometimes make basic assumptions that might be flawed. Many port scanners assume that if a particular port is open, the default application for that port must be present. Amap probes these ports to find out what is really running there. Therefore, this tool excels at allowing a security professional to find services that might have been redirected from their standard ports. One technique is to use this program by taking the greppable format of nmap as an input to scan for those open services. Defeating or blocking Amap is not easy, although one technique would be to use a port knocking technique. Port knocking is similar to a secret handshake or combination. Only after inputting a set order of port connections can a connection be made.


Scanrand is part of a suite of tools known as Paketto Keiretsu developed by Dan Kaminsky. Scanrand is a fast scanning tool, and what makes this tool so fast is that it uses a unique method of scanning TCP ports. Most TCP scanners take the approach of scanning one port at a time. After all, TCP is a stateful protocol, so traditional scanners must probe each port, wait for the response, store the connection in memory, and then move on. Traditional scanning is a serial process.

Scanrand implements stateless scanning. This parallel approach to scanning breaks the process into two distinct processes. One process sends out the requests at a high rate of speed, while the other independent process is left to sort out the incoming responses and figure out how it all matches up. The secret to the program's speed is in its use of inverse SYN cookies. Basically, Scanrand builds a hashed sequence number placed in the outgoing packet that can be identified upon return. This value contains information that identifies source IP, source port, destination IP, and destination port. If you're tasked with scanning a large number of IP addresses quickly, this is something you'll want to check out, as it is much faster than traditional scanning programs.

Port Knocking

Port knocking is a method of establishing a connection to a host that does not initially indicate that it has any open ports. Port knocking works by having the remote device send a series of connection attempts to a specific series of ports. It is somewhat analogous to a secret handshake. After the proper sequence of port knocking has been detected, the required port is opened and a connection is established. The advantage of using a port knocking technique is that hackers cannot easily identify open ports. The disadvantages include the fact that the technique does not harden the underlining application. Also, it isn't useful for publicly accessible services. Finally, anyone who has the ability to sniff the network traffic will be in possession of the appropriate knock sequence. www.portknocking.org is a good site to check out to learn more about this defensive technique.

War Dialers

War dialing has been around long before the days of broadband access and was actually popularized in the 1983 movie War Games. War dialing is the act of using a modem and software to scan for other systems with modems attached. War dialing is accomplished by dialing a range of phone numbers with the hope of getting one to respond with the appropriate tone. Modems are a tempting target for hackers because they offer them the opportunity to bypass the corporate firewall. A modem can be seen as a backdoor into the network.

Modems are still popular today with network administrators because they can be used for remote access, and they are useful for out-of-band management. After all, they are a low-cost network access alternative if normal network access goes down. The problem is that many of these modems have no authentication or weak authentication at best. If you're planning on war dialing as part of a pen test, you want to make sure and check the laws in your area. Some states have laws that make it illegal to place a call without the intent to communicate. Two of the most well-known war dialing tools include

  • ToneLoc— A war dialing program that looks for dial tones by randomly dialing numbers or dialing within a range. It can also look for a carrier frequency of a modem or fax. ToneLoc uses an input file that contains the area codes and number ranges you want to have it dial.
  • PhoneSweep— A commercial grade war dialing program that can support multiple lines at once.
  • THC-Scan— An older DOS-based program that can use a modem to dial ranges of numbers to search for a carrier frequency from a modem or fax.


Wardriving is named after wardialing as it is the process of looking for open access points. Many pen tests contain some type of war driving activity. The goal is to identify open or rogue access points. Even if the organization has secured it wireless access points, there is always the possibility that employees have installed their own access points without the company's permission. Unsecured wireless access points can be a danger to organizations because much like modems, they offer the hacker a way into the network that might bypass the firewall. A whole host of security tools have been released for Windows and Linux over the last few years that can be used to probe wireless equipment. Some basic tools that hackers and legitimate pen testers probably have include

  • Kismit— 802.11 wireless network detector, sniffer, and intrusion detection system.
  • Netstumbler— 802.11 wireless network detector, also available for Mac and handhelds.
  • Airsnort— 802.11b wireless cracking tool.
  • Airsnare— An intrusion detection system to help you monitor your 802.11 wireless network. It can notify you as soon as a machine connects to your wireless network that is not listed as an approved MAC address.

OS Fingerprinting


Describe passive fingerprinting

State the various ways that active fingerprinting tools work

At this point in the information gathering process, the hacker has made some real headway. IP addresses, active systems, and open ports have been identified. Although the hacker might not yet know the type of systems he is dealing with, he is getting close. There are two ways in which the hacker can attempt to identify the targeted devices. The hacker's first choice is passive fingerprinting. The hacker's second choice is to perform active fingerprinting, which basically sends malformed packets to the target in hope of eliciting a response that will identify it. Although active fingerprinting is more accurate, it is not as stealthy as passive fingerprinting.

Passive fingerprinting is really sniffing, as the hacker is sniffing packets as they come by. These packets are examined for certain characteristics that can be pointed out to determine the OS. Four commonly examined items that are used to fingerprint the OS include

  • The IP TTL value— Different OSes set the TTL to unique values on outbound packets.
  • The TCP Window Size— OS vendors use different values for the initial window size.
  • The IP DF Option— Not all OS vendors handle fragmentation in the same way.
  • The IP Type of Service (TOS) Option— TOS is a three-bit field that controls the priority of specific packets. Again, not all vendors implement this option in the same way.

These are just four of many possibilities that can be used to passively fingerprint an OS. Other items that can be examined include IP Identification Number (IPID), IP options, TCP options, and even ICMP. Ofir Arkin has written an excellent paper on this titled, "ICMP Usage in Scanning." Probably the most up-to-date passive fingerprinting tool is the Linux-based tool P0f. P0f attempts to passively fingerprint the source of all incoming connections after the tool is up and running. Because it's a truly passive tool, it does so without introducing additional traffic on the network. P0fv2 is available at http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/p0f.tgz.

Active fingerprinting is more powerful than passive fingerprint scanning because the hacker doesn't have to wait for random packets, but as with every advantage, there is usually a disadvantage. This disadvantage is that active fingerprinting is not as stealthy as passive fingerprinting. The hacker actually injects the packets into the network. Active fingerprinting has a much higher potential for being discovered or noticed. Like passive OS fingerprinting, active fingerprinting examines the subtle differences that exist between different vendor implementations of the TCP/IP stack. Therefore, if hackers probe for these differences, the version of the OS can most likely be determined. One of the individuals who has been a pioneer in this field of research is Fyodor. His site, www.insecure.org/nmap/nmap-fingerprinting-article.html, has an excellent paper on OS fingerprinting. Listed here are some of the basic methods used in active fingerprinting:

  • The FIN probe— A FIN packet is sent to an open port, and the response is recorded. Although RFC 793 states that the required behavior is not to respond, many OSes such as Windows will respond with a RESET.
  • Bogus flag probe— As you might remember from Table 3.7, there are only six valid flags in the 1 byte TCP header. A bogus flag probe sets one of the used flags along with the SYN flag in an initial packet. Linux will respond by setting the same flag in the subsequent packet.
  • Initial Sequence Number (ISN) sampling— This fingerprinting technique works by looking for patterns in the ISN number. Although some systems use truly random numbers, others, such as Windows, increment the number by a small fixed amount.
  • IPID sampling— Many systems increment a systemwide IPID value for each packet they send. Others, such as older versions of Windows, do not put the IPID in network byte order, so they increment the number by 256 for each packet.
  • TCP initial window— This fingerprint technique works by tracking the window size in packets returned from the target device. Many OSes use exact sizes that can be matched against a database to uniquely identify the OS.
  • ACK value— Again, vendors differ in the ways they have implemented the TCP/IP stack. Some OSes send back the previous value +1, whereas others send back more random values.
  • Type of service— This fingerprinting type tweaks ICMP port unreachable messages and examines the value in the type of service (TOS) field. Whereas some use 0, others return different values.
  • TCP options— Here again, different vendors support TCP options in different ways. By sending packets with different options set, the responses will start to reveal the server's fingerprint.
  • Fragmentation handling— This fingerprinting technique takes advantage of the fact that different OS vendors handle fragmented packets differently. RFC 1191 specifies that the MTU is normally set between 68 and 65535 bytes. This technique was originally discovered by Thomas Ptacek and Tim Newsham.

Active Fingerprinting Tools


Use tools such as Xprobe2, Winfingerprint, and Amap

One of the first tools to actually be widely used for active fingerprinting back in the late 1990s was Queso. Although no longer updated, it helped move this genre of tools forward. Nmap has supplanted Queso as the tool of choice for active fingerprinting and is one of the most feature-rich free fingerprint tools in existence today. Nmap's database can fingerprint literally hundreds of different Oses. Fingerprinting with Nmap is initiated by running the tool with the –O option. When started with this command, switch nmap probes port 80 and then ports in the 20–23 range. Nmap needs one open and one closed port to make an accurate determination of what OS a particular system is running. An example is shown in the following:

C:\nmap-3.93>nmap -O
Starting nmap 3.93 (http://www.insecure.org/nmap) at 2005-10-07 15:47 Central
Daylight Time
Interesting ports on
(The 1653 ports scanned but not shown below are in state: closed)
80/tcp  open  http
139/tcp open  netbios-ssn
515/tcp open  printer
548/tcp open  afpovertcp
Device type: general purpose
Running: Linux 2.4.X|2.5.X
OS details: Linux Kernel 2.4.0 - 2.5.20
Uptime 0.282 days (since Fri Oct 07 09:01:33 2005)
Nmap run completed -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 4.927 seconds

You might also want to try Nmap with the -v or -vv switch. There are devices such as F5 Load Balancer that will not identify themselves using a normal –O scan but will reveal their ID with the -vv switch. Just remember that with Nmap or any other active fingerprint tool, you are injecting packets into the network. This type of activity can be tracked and monitored by an IDS. Active fingerprinting tools, such as Nmap, can be countered by tweaking the OS's stack. Anything that tampers with this information can affect the prediction of the target's OS version.

Nmap's dominance of active fingerprinting is being challenged by a new breed of tools. One such tool is Xprobe Xprobe 2 is a Linux-based active OS fingerprinting tool with a different approach to operating system fingerprinting. Xprobe is unique in that it uses a mixture of TCP, UDP, and ICMP to slip past firewalls and avoid IDS systems. Xprobe2 relies on fuzzy signature matching. In layman's terms, this means that targets are run through a variety of tests. These results are totaled, and the user is presented with a score that tells the probability of the targeted machine's OS—for example, 75 percent Windows XP and 60 percent Windows 2000.

Because some of you might actually prefer GUI tools, the final fingerprinting tool for discussion is Winfingerprint. This Windows-based tool can harvest a ton of information about Windows servers. It allows scans on a single host or the entire network neighborhood. You can also input a list of IP addresses or specify a custom IP range to be scanned. After a target is found, Winfingerprint can obtain NetBIOS shares, disk information, services, users, groups, detection of Service Pack, and even Hotfixes. A screenshot of Winfingerprint can be seen in Figure 3.10.


Figure 3.10 Winfingerprint.

Fingerprinting Services


Be able to perform banner grabbing with tools such as Telnet and netcat

If there is any doubt left as to what a particular system is running, this next step of information gathering should serve to answer those questions. Knowing what services are running on specific ports allows the hacker to formulate and launch application specific attacks. Knowing the common default ports and services and using tools such as Telnet, FTP, and Netcat are two techniques that can be used to ensure success at this pre-attack stage.

Default Ports and Services

A certain amount of default information and behavior can be gleamed from any system. For example, if a hacker discovers a Windows 2003 system with port 80 open, he can assume that the system is running IIS 6.0, just as a Linux system with port 25 open is likely to be running sendmail. Although it's possible that the Windows 2003 machine might be running a version of Apache, that most likely is not a common occurrence.

Just keep in mind that at this point, the attacker is making assumptions. Just because a particular port is active or a known banner is returned, you cannot be certain that information is correct. Ports and banners can be changed and assumptions by themselves can be dangerous. Additional work will need to be done to verify what services are truly being served up by any open ports.

Finding Open Services

The scanning performed earlier in the Chapter might have uncovered other ports that were open. Most scanning programs, such as Nmap and SuperScan, will report what common services are associated with those open ports. This easiest way to determine what services are associated with the open ports that were discovered is by banner grabbing.

Banner grabbing takes nothing more than the Telnet and FTP client built in to the Windows and Linux platforms. Banner grabbing provides important information about what type and version of software is running. Many servers can be exploited with just a few simple steps if the web server is not properly patched. Telnet is an easy way to do this banner grabbing for FTP, SMTP, HTTP, and others. The command issued to banner grab with Telnet would contain the following syntax: Telnet (IP_Address) Port. Any example of this is shown here. This banner grabbing attempt was targeted against a web server.

C:\>telnet 80
HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
Server: Microsoft-IIS/5.0
Date: Fri, 07 Oct 2005 22:22:04 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 87
<html><head><title>Error</title></head><body>The parameter is incorrect. </body>
Connection to host lost.

After the command was entered, telnet 80, the Return key was pressed a couple of times to generate a response. As noted in the Telnet response, this banner indicates that the web server is IIS 5.0.

Telnet isn't your only option for grabbing banners; netcat is another option. Netcat is shown here to introduce you to its versatility. Netcat is called the "Swiss army knife of hacking tools" because of its many uses. To banner grab with netcat, you would issue the following command for the command line:

nc -v -n IP_Address Port

This command will give you the banner of the port you asked to check. Netcat is available for Windows and Linux. If you haven't downloaded netcat, don't feel totally left behind, as FTP is another choice for banner grabbing. Just FTP to the target server and review the returned banner.

Most all port scanners, including those discussed in this Chapter, also perform banner grabbing.

Mapping the Network

The hacker would have now gained enough information to map the network. Mapping the network provides the hacker with a blueprint of the organization. There are manual and automated ways to compile this information. Manual and automated tools are discussed in the following sections.

Manual Mapping

If you have been documenting findings, the matrix you began at the start of this Chapter should be overflowing with information. This matrix should now contain domain name information, IP addresses, DNS servers, employee info, company location, phone numbers, yearly earnings, recently acquired organizations, email addresses, the publicly available IP address range, open ports, wireless access points, modem lines, and banner details.

Automated Mapping

If you prefer a more automated method of mapping the network, a variety of tools are available. Visual traceroute programs, such as NeoTrace and Visual Route, are one option. Running traceroute to different servers, such as web, email, and FTP, can help you map out the placement of these servers. Automatic mapping can be faster but might generate errors or sometimes provide erroneous results.

NLog is one option to help keep track of your scanning and mapping information. NLog allows you to automate and track the results of your nmap scans. It allows you to keep all of your nmap scan logs in a database, making it possible to easily search for specific entries. It's browser based, so you can easily view the scan logs in a highly customizable format. You can add your own extension scripts for different services, so all hosts running a certain service will have a hyperlink to the extension script.

Cheops is another network mapping option. If run from the Internet, the tool will be limited to devices that it can contact. These will most likely be devices within the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Run internally, it will diagram a large portion of the network. In the hands of a hacker, it's a powerful tool, as it uses routines taken from a variety of other tools that permit it to perform OS detection port scans for service detection and network mapping using common traceroute techniques. Linux users can download it from www.marko.net/cheops.





Common Tools


Information gathering


Sam Spade, ARIN, IANA, Whois, Nslookup


Determining network range




Identify active machines


Ping, traceroute, Superscan, Angry IP scanner


Finding open ports and applications


Nmap, Amap, SuperScan


OS fingerprinting


Nmap, Winfigerprint, P0f, Xprobe2, ettercap


Fingerprinting services


Telnet, FTP, Netcat


Mapping the network


Cheops, traceroute, NeoTrace

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020