Ethical Hacking Tutorial

Most Popular Footprinting Techniques & Tools in Ethical Hacking

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Top Footprinting Techniques in Ethical Hacking
  • Top Footprinting Tools in Ethical Hacking


What are the top footprinting techniques in ethical hacking? Which are the best footprinting tools used by hackers? We are answering both of these questions in detail here. 

As part of our comprehensive Ethical Hacking Tutorial for Beginners, we have covered the top 10 footprinting techniques and then covered the top 5 footprinting tools. 

These are valuable resources when performing ethical hacking practices. So, let’s get started!

Top Footprinting Techniques in Ethical Hacking

What are the techniques used for footprinting? It is a common question that people learning ethical hacking often ask.

Below are some of the top footprinting techniques:

1. Email Footprinting

It is the process of monitoring email deliveries to recipients. Also called email tracking, this footprinting technique helps hackers to collect information about the target for launching attacks. 

Using it, they can access the IP address, geolocation, time of receiving and reading the email, whether the recipient clicked on the links in the email, browser, and OS in use, as well as the time spent reading the mail.

2. Google Hacking Techniques

Some advanced footprinting techniques can be used to know several things about a website. Google has some uncommon features that hackers can use to find confidential information about the target websites. 

For instance, if you visit Google and enter this- allinurl:tsweb/default.htm, it will show numerous websites that have a web folder. This folder can be used to attack the servers of the website. 

There are several more techniques like these that allow hackers to footprint using Google.

3. WHOIS Lookup

WHOIS Lookup is a way to gather information from database queries, such as domain name, IP address block, location, contact details, domain name servers, and other critical data of the organization. It also acts as a pathway to website footprinting. 

4. Social Networking Sites

Hackers use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to find sensitive information about the target. It is called footprinting using social media. 

For instance, they can create fake profiles, connect with an organization’s employee, and check his/her contact details, date of birth, career background, spouse, etc. Using this information, the attackers can use tricks to make people reveal more information.

5. DNS Footprinting

Hackers use it to collect DNS information about the target system, allowing them to obtain details regarding DNS Zone Data, including computer names, DNS domain names, network-related information, and IP addresses. This is one of the most common techniques in footprinting. 

6. Zone Transfer

When there is a need to duplicate or replicate the DNS records of a server to other servers, the technique used is called Zone transfer. The files transferred from one server to another include information about the domain names, subdomains, IP addresses, etc. Hackers can use this to carry out attacks on the server.

7. Network Footprinting

This type of footprinting involves gathering information about a network. This information can be host names, exposed hosts, apps on these hosts, network address ranges, and details about OS and apps.

8. Website Footprinting

This is a method to find and collect the details of a website, like archived description, content management system (CMS), web crawling, web page analysis, platforms and script used by the site, and more. It is a popular footprinting technique when it comes to gathering information about the target website. 

9. Cookies

It is used to identify users as cookies retrieve a user’s browsing history. Cookies save users’ details, including their email addresses and passwords, that they mention while filling in any form. HTT tracker is a common example of this footprinting technique.

10. Competitive Intelligence

The method collects competitors’ data through different resources, such as the internet, website, online database, annual report, etc.

Top Footprinting Tools in Ethical Hacking

So, the next question that we are answering here is: “What tools can be used for footprinting in ethical hacking?”

Here are some common tools for footprinting:

1. Harvester

This is a tool used to gather information about the target’s email address and subdomains. Harvester is written using Python and searches data from major search engines, such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo.


2. Metagoofil

Metagoofil is used to collect data that is publicly available on the internet. 


3. Netifera

This powerful footprinting tool called Netifera offers a platform to extract information about the target website. It provides details regarding IP addresses, the number of websites hosted, the programming languages used to build the website, and DNS. 


4. Sam Spade 

It can perform extensive analysis in a short period and is compatible with all versions of Windows. 

5. SuperScan

You can use this footprinting tool to scan an array of information processing addresses and TCP ports. The tools will check all the ports or the ones you mention. 


Footprinting is a popular ethical hacking practice to safeguard systems against security breaches and cyber-attacks. However, it is important that organizations regularly adopt effective measures to secure their data from multiple threats. We hope this write-up helped you understand footprinting methodology, footprinting tools and techniques, and other aspects. 

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