Information Gathering

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Information Gathering

The start of the information gathering phase is going to start with basic open-source-intelligence. OSI is the process of looking on social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, linked in, twitter and any other platform where employees of companies reveal their personal details, anything from their dogs name (Dogs name could be used in a word list to attempt a brute force attack on their password) to their home addresses, phone number, hobbies and interests.

There are several techniques in which is used for open-source-intelligence gathering, these include checking if the employees email has been compromised in a data breach (www.haveibeenpwned.com) and using applications such as h8mail to find their compromised password(new and old) and other applications such as hydra, these applications either find already leaked information or brute force/dictionary attack common passwords and reveal the users current password. Looking for old employee information is a good idea as their login credentials might still be working and the system administrators might’ve forgotten to expire their credentials. So finding old employee information could serve useful.

Password lists for brute force attacks can be customized and personalized for individual companies. A good way to do this is to create a script, take all the text from the websites homepage, have your script separate each word out and then create multiple variations of that same word. This will create a password list of fourteen thousand plus words in which can be used to brute force a password. You should also include common passwords in a separate list and perform multiple attacks until one list returns a positive result, be careful of false positives. Companies like google and Facebook lock you out after three failed attempts in order to prevent password spraying, so finding an anime website, GTA website or movie torrent site that the target uses is a good way to perform brute force attacks as those sites might not have set their password fields to fail after three failed attempts. Good soft targets are those who are non-technical employees, so target employees who probably don’t have many technical skills, knowledge and ability, this is because their passwords will be the weakest.

As the researcher you’re trying to collect meta-data in which can be used later in-order to bypass login fields, social engineering campaigns, and to try and make yourself look possibly like an employee.

Google Dorking is another open source information gathering technique. Google indexes web pages and returns a result based on the search criteria. Dorking can reveal old versions and new versions of a website, network log files, passwords, emails/usernames, penetration/bug reports, IOT devices such as cameras and more. A big advantage to google Dorking is that it’s good for finding vulnerable websites, just by searching "Index of admin" and “Inurl: Admin_Panel” you can find quite a few websites that have their admin panels exposed for public access. You can search anything from SQL injectable URLs to password/email lists, all can be used for OSI. In-short google dorks are great for finding out of date and vulnerable websites. Google works by crawling websites based on your search query, it doesn’t say no when you are trying to find company information that shouldn’t be publicly available yet this is not illegal because it’s freely on the internet.

A robots.txt file contains instructions for bots that tell them which web pages they can and cannot display. Robots.txt files are most relevant for web crawlers from search engines like Google. Check for robots.txt files. Robots.txt files are files that the web admin is hiding from public access and gaining access to such files without express permission is prohibited. Robots.txt files can reveal interesting directories such as /admin or /administration.

Shodan is a search engine for internet-connected-devices, and any device that is exposed to the internet. Instead of indexing web pages, it indexes IOT devices and returns results based on queries, such as “port: 22” which will find SSH servers that are running on port 22. Shodan allows users to monitor network security, explore IOT devices and power plants. Shodan works by taking information from banners, which is metadata about a software that’s running on a device. Google works by crawling the web for information and returning web pages based on the search query. Shodan works by indexing the web for IOT devices based on your query syntax and returns results for internet connected devices.

Website third party vendors. As a researcher you will need to find out what services a website is running and all their plug-ins, you can do this by using the wappalyzer extension in Firefox which returns results such as web hosting servers, analytics, programming languages, code libraries, frameworks and much more.

Unix commands is another way to do more searching, such as nslookup which is used for querying internet domain name servers (DNS), other commands include ping to see if the target is online, dig which interrogates DNS severs, such as DNS lookups and displays the answers returned from the name servers that were queried.

Enumerating sub domains. Enumeration of sub domains is a handy trick to finding sub domains on a target, subdomains are alternative domains connected to a websites main domain. There are certain sub domains in which you don’t want users to find like /admin aren’t suppose to be easy to access however due to poor management and lack of competency attackers can enumerate the sub domains and find admin panels, blogs, forums, mails for routing mail traffic and much more, if configuration of the sub domains aren’t done properly then you could reveal sensitive company data to anyone who tries to find it. DNS enumeration is the process of locating all of the DNS servers and their corresponding records for an organization.

DNS enumeration can yield results such as the operating systems that are running on the target server, finding IP addresses of potential target systems, username and computer names. If DNS systems are not configured correctly then it is possible for attackers to gather up sensitive information about your organizations network which could result in a DNS zone transfer and DNS tunnelling.

Network vulnerabilities. Lastly scanning a targets network using software like nmap is a great way to perform reconnaissance on a target. It can yield results such as open ports, services running on those ports and operating systems that are being used. Nmap is a network mapping tool that creates a map of an organizations network for researchers and information technology professionals to check what is running on their networks. Nmap is great for checking for what systems are running on the companies network, revealing security risks, port scanning, locating hosts and creating a road map of the network.

This document outlines only some of the techniques used in open-source-intelligence-gathering. OSI is an efficient way and a completely legal way of taking seemingly harmless information that is freely available on the web and using it to get a foot hold into and organizations network.


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