Footprinting through search engines

1.1 Footprinting through search engines

My resume of module 02 footprinting form CEH material

Search engines are the main information sources to locate key information about a target organization. Search engines play a major role in extracting critical details about a target from the Internet. It returns a list of Search Engine Results Pages (‘SERPs’). Many search engines can extract target organization information such as technology platforms, employee details, login pages, intranet portals, contact information and so on. The information helps attacker in performing social engineering and other types of advanced system attacks.

About Google

Google search could reveal submissions to forums by security personnel that disclose brands of firewalls or antivirus software in use at the target. Attackers sometimes discover even the network diagrams, which enable them to launch an attack.


Examples of major search engines include Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Aol, Baidu, and DuckDuckGo. Attackers can use advanced search operators available with these search engines and create complex queries to find, filter, and sort specific information regarding the target. Search engines are also used to find other sources of publicly accessible information resources. For example, you can type “Top Job Portals” to find major job portals that provide critical information about the target organization.

Footprint Using Advanced Google Hacking Techniques

Google hacking refers to use of advanced Google search operators for creating complex search queries in order to extract sensitive or hidden information. The accessed information is then used by attackers to find vulnerable targets. Footprinting using advanced Google hacking techniques gathers information by Google hacking, a hacking technique to locate specific strings of text within search results using an advanced operator in the Google search engine.

Avanced Google Hacking refers to the art of creating complex search engine queries. Queries can retrieve valuable data about a target company from the Google search results. Through Google Hacking, an attacker tries to find websites that are vulnerable to exploitation. Attackers can use the Google Hacking Database (‘GHDB’), a database of queries, to identify sensitive data.

Some of the popular Google advanced search operators:

An attacker cannot always gather information easily from an information-rich site using only a normal search box. A complicated search involves a number of interrelated conditions.

Google’s Advanced search feature helps an attacker to perform complex web searching. With Google Advanced Search and Advanced Image Search, one can search web more precisely and accurately. You can use these search features to achieve same precision as of using the advanced operators but without typing or remembering the operators. Using Google’s Advanced search option, you can find sites that may link back to the target organization’s website. This helps to extract information such as partners, vendors, clients, and other affiliations of the target website. You can use Google Advanced Image Search to check out pictures of the target, its location, employees and so on.

What can a Hacker do with Google Hacking?

An attacker can create complex search engine queries in order to filter large amounts of search results to obtain information related to computer security.

Examples of sensitive information left on public servers that an attacker can extract with the help of Google Hacking Database (GHDB) queries include:

  • Error messages that contain sensitive information
  • Files containing passwords
  • Sensitive directories
  • Pages containing logon portals
  • Pages containing network or vulnerability data, such as firewall logs
  • Advisories and server vulnerabilities
  • Software version information
  • Web application source code

Google Hacking Database


The Google Hacking Database (‘GHDB’) is an authoritative source for querying the ever-widening reach of the Google search engine. In the GHDB, you will find search terms for files containing usernames, vulnerable servers, and even files containing passwords.


  • Footholds
  • Files Containing Juicy Info
  • Files Containing Usernames
  • Files Containing Passwords
  • Sensitive Directories
  • Sensitive Online Shopping Info
  • Web Server Detection
  • Network or Vulnerability Data
  • Vulnerable Files
  • Pages Containing Login Portals
  • Vulnerable Servers
  • Various Online Devices
  • Error Messages
  • Advisories and Vulnerabilities

VoIP and VPN Footprinting through Google Hacking Database

Google hacking involves the implementation of advanced operators in the Google search engine to match for the specific strings of text within the search result. These advanced operators help refine searches to expose sensitive information, vulnerabilities, and passwords. You can use.

These google hacking operators or Google dorks for footprinting VoIP and VPN networks. You can extract information such as pages containing login portals, VoIP login portals, directory with keys of VPN servers, and so on.