Reconnaissance in Hacking: A Comprehensive Guide in 5 Steps


Imagine you wish to ethically hack into a company’s website to find out the vulnerabilities. While this can be helpful while testing an application, what will be the first step for you? To collect as much information as possible. Collecting information and knowing deeply about the target system is known as “Reconnaissance”. This data is the main street for the programmer to hack the target system. It involves Footprinting, Enumeration, and Scanning.

In this article, we will discuss reconnaissance in hacking, its parts, and the tools used for reconnaissance in brief.

  1. What is reconnaissance
  2. The two phases of reconnaissance in ethical hacking
  3. The subprocesses of reconnaissance ethical hacking
  4. Three types of Scanning utilized
  5. Tools for reconnaissance

1. What is reconnaissance

Reconnaissance definition states that it is a significant instrument as a starting point of numerous data hacking and for penetration testing. The cycle includes gathering data about the target machine that could be utilized to discover its blemishes, weaknesses, and security vulnerabilities.

In the process of reconnaissance, hackers tend to be like detectives, gathering data, and information to comprehend their victims. From looking at email records to open source data, they wish to know about the organization better than the individuals who run and look after it. They focus on the security part of the innovation, study the shortcomings, and utilize any weakness for their potential benefit.

Steps followed in reconnaissance –

  • Accumulate inceptive data 
  • Decide the range of the network 
  • Recognize all active machines 
  • Get hold of the OS being used 
  • Uniquely mark the working framework 
  • Reveal services used on ports 
  • Understand the network map

2. The two phases of reconnaissance in ethical hacking are

  • Active reconnaissance
  • Passive reconnaissance

A) Active reconnaissance

Dynamic reconnaissance is the kind of reconnaissance where you assemble data about the framework/application by straightforwardly connecting with the framework. At the point when you utilize Active reconnaissance, there is a high possibility that some data like your IP address is known by the framework you are attempting to accumulate the data about. 

B) Passive reconnaissance

On account of Passive reconnaissance, you assemble data without interfacing with the framework/application you are attempting to think about. You accumulate data through web indexes or freely available reports. At the point when you utilize Passive reconnaissance, it is highly unlikely that the framework would know your IP address.

3. The subprocesses of reconnaissance ethical hacking are

  • Footprinting
  • Enumeration
  • Scanning

A) Footprinting

Footprinting is gathering data about the target system which can be utilized to hack the system. To get this data, a programmer may utilize different strategies with variation apparatuses. 

Maximum time is spent in Footprinting. Information such as Firewall, OS used, and Security configurations in the target system, IP address, Server configurations, VPN, URLs, Network map.

B) Enumeration

The enumeration in data security is the way toward extricating client names, network assets, machine names, and different administrations from the target system.  The assembled data is utilized to distinguish the weaknesses or frail focuses on the security of the victim and afterward attempts to misuse it.

C) Scanning

Scanning is one of the most famous procedures that assailants use to find services that can be used to misuse the frameworks. All the machines associated with the LAN, through a modem or into notable ports are discovered in scanning. 

By utilizing scanning, we can investigate data, for example, what services are executed, what clients own those administrations, are incognito logins upheld, regardless of whether certain organization administrations require validation and other related subtleties.

4. Three types of Scanning utilized are

  • Port scanning: This stage includes filtering the victim for the data like open ports, Live frameworks, different administrations running on the host. 
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Checking the victim for shortcomings or weaknesses which can be misused. Generally finished with the assistance of automated software
  • Network Mapping: Finding the network’s topology, switches, and routers, firewalls (assuming any), data, and drawing an organization graph with accessible data. This guide may fill in as a significant snippet of data all through the hacking cycle.

5. Tools for reconnaissance

A) Nmap

Nmap is presumably the most notable instrument for active reconnaissance ethical hacking. Nmap is a scanner that checks in a network for insights concerning a framework and the projects running on it. This is cultivated using a set-up of various sweep types that exploit the subtleties of how a service or system works.

B) Nikto

Nikto is a web scanner that scans for vulnerabilities that can be utilized for surveillance. It can identify a wide range of weaknesses but at the same time is not a covert scanner. Examining with Nikto can be successful, however, it is effectively perceptible by a prevention system or an interruption identification.

C) Nessus

Nessus is a business scanner for vulnerabilities. Its motivation is to distinguish weak applications running in the network and gives an assortment of insights regarding possibly exploitable weaknesses. Nessus is a paid scanner, however, the extensive data that it gives can make it an advantageous venture for hacking.

D) Metasploit

Metasploit is a toolkit for exploitation. It contains a wide range of modules that have pre-packaged adventures for various vulnerabilities. With Metasploit, even a fledgling programmer can break into a wide scope of weak machines.

E) Shodan

Shodan is a web crawler for web associated devices. As the Internet of Things develops, people and associations progressively are interfacing uncertain gadgets to the web. It is a tool that can be used for Passive reconnaissance. However, using Shodan can be identified by prevention and detection systems.

F) Google

In the tools used for passive reconnaissance, search engines come first. Google and other Search engines can perform more remarkable pursuits than one might suspect and one has experienced. It very well may be utilized by programmers and assailants to accomplish something that has been named Google hacking. Fundamental inquiry strategies joined with cutting edge administrators can do incredible harm.

G) OpenVAS

OpenVAS is a scanner for vulnerabilities that were created in light of the commercialization of Nessus. The Nessus weakness scanner was already open-source, and, when it became closed-source, OpenVAS was made off of the last open-source form to keep on giving a free other option. Therefore, it gives a great deal of similar usefulness as Nessus, however, may come up short on a portion of the highlights created since Nessus was marketed.


Reconnaissance is a significant aspect of any hacking activity. Any data that a programmer can find out about the target can help in recognizable proof of potential assault vectors and focusing on endeavors to possible weaknesses. By utilizing a blend of latent and dynamic observation devices and procedures, a programmer can augment the data gathered while limiting the likelihood of discovery.

This blog is your answer to what is reconnaissance in ethical hacking and hacking reconnaissance tools.

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