The internet has become a vast treasure trove of information that anyone can access with a computer and an internet connection. It represents both the good and bad sides of the internet. On the one hand, it makes it possible for all kinds of information to be easily accessible. On the other hand, if this information falls into the wrong hands, it could pose severe risks.
Cybercriminals use various techniques to gather information about potential targets. Therefore, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with robust tools to keep yourself one step ahead of criminals. It lets you detect and stop unauthorized data access of information gathering on your network or system.
This article will highlight the most common tools used for information gathering so that you can protect your system or network from potential cyber-attacks. Let’s get started.
Table of content:
- What is Information Gathering?
- Objectives of Information Gathering in Cybersecurity
- Top Information Gathering Tools
What is Information Gathering?
Information gathering is a cybersecurity activity for collecting information about a potential target. It could be done for network security monitoring, penetration, testing, or other cybersecurity tasks. Information Gathering is about active surveillance.
Active surveillance or reconnaissance means sending packets to your target network to gain information. This can be dangerous when done incorrectly because it can tip off your target that they are being attacked, alerting them and spoiling your attack before it even starts!
The importance of information gathering shouldn’t be underestimated as it has many uses in security assessment.
Objectives of Information Gathering in Cybersecurity
The objective of information gathering is to collect the following network and system information:
- Domain Name Information
- Internal Domain Names
- IP Addresses
- Network Blocks
- Opened ports and TCP/UDP services running
- Rogue Websites
- Networking Protocols
- System Enumeration
- User and Group Names
- System Banners
- SNMP Information
- Systems Information
The first two are known collectively as “reconnaissance” — information gathering to plan an attack. The third is “scanning,” which probes a system or network for vulnerabilities.
Top 7 Information Gathering Tools
It’s essential to know how to gather information about your targets to plan a successful attack. There are many tools specifically designed for this purpose.
If you’re looking to familiarize yourself with the tools available, here is a list of seven essential programs and online services.
Sandmap is a tool that lets you gather information quickly and easily. With this tool, you can see how people are searching for things online (and which keywords bring them to your site), figure out where those searches are coming from, find out how long people stay on your site, and even see whether the type of device they’re using matters in any way.
Also, it can be used for reconnaissance, vulnerability scanning, and mapping of the attack surfaces. This software has a powerful scanning engine, and it also allows users to create their custom data sources.
- Comes with a user-friendly GUI
- Runs Nmap engine with simple CLI
- Proxy chain TOR support
- Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) with script arguments and TOR support
- Numerous scans at once
Raccoon is a widely used reconnaissance and intelligence collecting tool focusing on ease of use. It can gather DNS records, retrieving WHOIS information, obtain TLS information, investigate WAF presence, and even do subdomain enumeration. Each scan generates a separate file.
Raccoon uses Python’s
asyncio module to conduct most scans asynchronously because most of its scans are autonomous and do not rely on each other’s results. For anonymous routing, Raccoon supports Tor/proxy.
- Services and programs that scan ports.
- Identifies known WAFs.
- Uses Tor/Proxies to provide anonymous routing.
- Improves performance by utilizing
- Fuzzing URLs and detecting directories and files.
Nmap is a free and open-source network scanner created by Gordon Lyon. It operates similarly to the ping command, but it offers many more options. Nmap uses raw IP packets to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services those hosts are offering, what operating systems those hosts are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use, and dozens of other characteristics.
Nmap runs on Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and macOS X. It is free software released under the GNU General Public License terms.
- Discovers Host
- Scanning order and port specification
- Scanning ports
- The detection of service or version and operating system
- Supports a wide range of advanced network mapping techniques.
Related: Port Scanning with Nmap
DMitry (DeepMagic Information Gathering Tool) is a UNIX/(GNU) Linux Command Line Application coded in C. This software aims to find as much information as possible about a host.
DMitry comes with a basic set of features and the flexibility to add new ones. DMitry’s basic capability enables information collection on a target host, ranging from a simple whois query to UpTime reports and TCP port scans.
The application is viewed as a tool to aid in collecting information when needed rapidly, as it eliminates the need for several instructions and the time-consuming process of looking through data from multiple sources.
- Conducts a whois lookup.
- Get access to available uptime, system, and server information.
- A standard application that allows users to specify modules.
SPARTA is a graphical user interface application built using Python and the Kali Linux tool for Network Penetration Testing. It speeds up the scanning and enumeration process. It allows the tester to save time by giving point-and-click access to the toolkit and displays all tools outputs suitably. If you spend a little time setting up commands and tools, you can devote more effort to analyzing the outcomes.
- Streamlines the scanning and enumeration process
- Customizable command tools
- Scan for live hosts from multiple probes around the world
- Perform port scans and service enumerations concurrently
- Use filters and regular expressions to narrow down the results
Red Hawk is a web security tool that can be used on any website or IP address. It can work with any device and gives accurate results. Its purpose is to gather crucial security-related information about the target domain or IP address. Red Hawk is programmed in PHP, so it has a simple user interface.
- Basic scan
- Web server and CMS detection
- whois, DNS, reverse IP, and geo-IP lookup
- grab banners
- Vulnerability detection and crawling
BadKarma is a network reconnaissance toolkit that aims to assist penetration testers during all aspects of network infrastructure penetration testing. The BadKarma toolkit uses existing tools such as Nmap, Nikto, Wireshark, Metasploit, and other tools such as Ettercap and SSLstrip to scan and gather data about a target. Although BadKarma is not designed to be an exploitation tool, it does allow you to perform some basic attack vectors such as ARP poisoning (MITM) attacks. Such attacks can be used for packet sniffing and password harvesting using the SSLstrip proxy server.
- Finding and identifying hosts.
- Performing port scanning.
- Identifying remote operating systems using active fingerprinting techniques.
- Running brute-force password cracking attacks against services such as FTP, SSH, SNMP, and RDP (using Hydra).
- Gathering service information.
Information collecting is merely one of the first phases in most infosec investigations, and there are a variety of approaches and tools to perform this task. In this article, we have explained 7 important information gathering tools. Using these tools, you can perform penetration testing, bug bounty, and ethical hacking in a computer system or a network. Select a tool based on your requirements and stay ahead of potential cybercriminals.
Read also: Top 8 Network Scanning Tools