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For this tutorial, I won’t pick a single target but given the recent discussions of passive reconnaissance in the context of I figured I’d use the *domain to scope my efforts.

Although all of the data is being gathered solely from the public domain without malicious intent, I’ve taken a couple of additional steps to avoid exposing details of any discovered egregious vulnerabilities.

While most of the passive reconnaissance activities do not have to follow a strict order, before you dive into vulnerability discovery, you should gather some basic data about your target(s) to properly scope the rest of your recon activities.

After all, it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time looking for PHP or My SQL vulnerabilities when you’re dealing with a . You’ll want to identify the various sub-domains and associated net range(s) related to your target.

Recently, while watching the House Committee hearings on the security of Healthcare.gov, I was disappointed to hear testimony likening passive reconnaissance to a form of unauthorized/illegal activity that involved potentially invasive actions such as port/vulnerability scanning.

To the contrary, passive recon can be one of the most useful and unobtrusive methods of data gathering for any penetration test or security assessment.

Browsing web pages, reviewing available content, downloading posted documents or reviewing any other information that has been posted to the would all be considered in-scope.

When you perform passive recon activities for a pentest or assessment you’ll undoubtedly have an agreed upon target and scope.Semi-passive Information Gathering: The goal for semi-passive information gathering is to profile the target with methods that would appear like normal Internet traffic and behavior.We query only the published name servers for information, we aren’t performing in-depth reverse lookups or brute force DNS requests, we aren’t searching for “unpublished” servers or directories.Some references will assert that passive reconnaissance can involve browsing a target’s website to view and download publicly available content whereas others will state that passive reconnaissance does not involve sending any packets whatsoever to the target site.For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to refer to the Penetration Testing Execution Standard’s definitions of “passive reconnaissance” and “semi-passive reconnaissance” and group them both under the umbrella of “Passive Reconnaissance” activities.

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