What are footprinting and fingerprinting?
It is undeniable that the cyber security industry is vast and elaborate. And there is a constant change and evolution in the industry. Nothing is static, from the techniques and devices to the technologies, and they are constantly changing to create a balance. But even if everything changes, the only thing that can’t change is how these tools are utilized and how they are implemented to secure companies from cyber attacks.
When it comes to cybersecurity, there are a lot of tools used. And the two most essential tools are footprinting and footprinting. They are key tools used in penetration testing. These tools figure out the target’s identity, which is important in creating a penetrating testing system that reveals the target’s loopholes and flaws and achieves traction in the test.
In this write-up, there will be a breakdown of the footprinting tool, which will help you understand what footprinting and fingerprinting are, how they work, what they are used for, and their relevance in the cybersecurity industry.
What is footprinting?
Footprinting means collecting sensitive information about your target system to determine how a successful system attack can occur. This may include information about the target security system, situation, and mode of operation.
When it comes to hacking, footprinting is one of the initial steps. Its main goal is to gather as much information as is needed for an attack to be launched. A good example is when you’re trying to hack into a website, you will need to know enough information to help you begin. Information such as the target IP address ( Internet Protocol address), the operating system of the hardware setup, their open ports, and other details about their structure can be used to break down the system.
Reason for performing footprinting
Footprinting is very important to a company’s security system; it helps them understand its network, how it works, and its connection to the outside world. Information gathered can identify possible threats and weaknesses in the organization’s security system. Footprinting allows organizations to know how to identify security solutions for their needs based on what is discovered. A very good example is the use of firewall solutions or intrusion detection systems (IDS) for internet-facing systems and the use of remote access solutions for situations when companies have a lot of remote employees who connect via VPNs.
When footprints are performed regularly, an organization can ensure proper functioning security systems and protection against emerging threats.
How does footprinting work?
A machine learning algorithm creates a distinctive profile for each device based on the operating system, hardware, software, and other device specifics. This profile is used to verify a user’s identity when they connect to the network. This distinctive profile is then compared to the profiles kept in the database by the footprinting algorithm. Authentication is successful if they coincide. If they don’t, authentication fails, and access is forbidden.
Methods of footprinting
Footprinting is a way through which devices can be monitored and tracked through the characteristics of their network traffic. There are three common methods of footprinting, each with its limitations the
This system tracks and identifies devices using different features of the TCP packet. The setback with this method is that it’s less effective when the connections are encrypted because it can not see the actual data sent.
ARP is a system through which two devices on a local network can communicate with themselves. Through the MAC address and IP Address system, the ARP footprinting uses the ARP protocol to identify devices communicating with themselves on a local network.
This method is most efficient when there are less than 50 devices because when two many devices are trying to communicate with each other at the same time, it can get confusing.
DNS stands for domain name system, which allows computers to communicate with each other without having to remember each other IP addresses by translating their website names into IP addresses. DNS can be a footprinting technique because it stores information about users accessing websites.
Operating System footprinting
This is where the operating system on which a target is running is identified. This can be done using different techniques such as looking at user agent-string and their headers in HTTP requests, examining the number of open network connections, and examining what software is installed on the machine.
This involves getting information about domains registered under certain names or companies by going over domain registrars. This is achieved by using tools such as whois, which retrieves information that a registrar has on a specific domain.
5 Avoidable cyber attacks prevented by footprinting solutions
These are some cyber attacks that can be prevented by footprinting solutions they include:
Man in the middle attack
In this attack, the attacker intercepts devices with a server or another device, changing the data that passes through it. This is prevented through footprinting by ensuring that only legit connections are made. it confirms the connection’s fingerprint and ensures that it communicates with the intended device or server.
This is a process where individuals are deceived into clicking malicious links or downloading malware by sending emails that appear to come from a trustworthy source. Footprint ensures that the users only access trusted websites and applications.
Footprinting prevents data theft by ensuring that only trusted devices can access company data. With this, hackers are prevented from accessing sensitive data through a third-party device.
Advanced persistent threats (APTs)
This is an advanced form of cyber attack normally involving high-value targets, where malware is used to gain access to confidential data to steal information for financial gain. With the level of sophistication of the attack, it can go on for a long period before attackers are detected.
This normally involves industries trying to sabotage or steal from each other sensitive information for financial gain. It can be used by hackers who want to clone certain products or services or sell the information to a rival company. Footprint solutions are used to detect, prevent or slow down such attacks.