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What is Whois Footprinting?

Last Updated : 03 Aug, 2022
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Whois Footprinting is an ethical hacking practice that collects data about targets and their condition. This is the pre-attack phase and  the activities performed will be stealthed and best efforts will be made to prevent the target from tracking you. The footprinting is then the first significant advance, as intrusion testers know how hackers see this system. The cybersecurity footprint process  involves profiling your organization and collecting data about your network, hosts, employees, and third-party partners. This information includes the operating system, firewall, network card, IP address, domain name system information, target computer security configuration, URL, virtual private network, employee ID, email address, and phone number used by your organization. It is included.

Types of Footprinting:

  • Active footprinting: An active footprinting represents a process that uses tools and techniques, such as using the traceroute command or the ping sweep (Internet Control Message Protocol Sweep) to collect data about a particular target. This often triggers the target’s intrusion detection system (IDS). Successful avoidance of detection requires some stealth and creativity.
  • Passive footprinting: Passive footprinting include performing  Google searches, browsing, using NeoTrace, browsing employee profiles on social media, browsing job pages, using Whois, a website that provides  domain names, and more. It involves collecting data about a particular target using harmless methods. And related networks of a particular organization. This is a more stealth approach to footprinting, as it does not trigger the target’s IDS.

Reconnaissance matches with footprinting and is an important part of the first hacking exercise. This is a passive footprinting exercise that collects data on potential target vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities that could be exploited during penetration testing. The footprinting process begins by identifying the location and target of the intrusion. 

Advantages of footprinting:

  • Ethical hacking footprinting techniques help organizations identify and protect their IT infrastructure before an attacker exploits the vulnerability. Users can also create a database of known vulnerabilities and loopholes.
  • Footprinting also help organizations better understand their current security regime by analyzing the data collected about firewalls, security configurations, and more. Users can update this list regularly and use it as a reference point during security reviews.
  • Drawing a network map can cover all trusted routers, servers, and other network topologies. Users can pursue a reduction in attack surface by narrowing  down to a specific set of systems.

Key Points:

  • Whois foot printing is the act of collecting information of an organization or large group of internet users by requesting whois public records from a hoster like .com, .net.
  • The main purpose of foot printing is to find out who owns domains that are hosted on different domains and what we can do with this information.
  • There are two main ways of obtaining this information- passive and active. Passive information gathering means that you simply use search engines to get what you need, while active means that you will query the Whois database directly.
  • When it comes to active scanning, you need to be aware that this is illegal in many countries.
  • There are a number of ways to run Whois foot printing, though some are better than others. The easiest way would be to use online lists which contain information on thousands of registrars and hosting providers. This can include domain search engines, domain registrars, hosting companies and many others.


  • The main countermeasure is to avoid using these services. As most of these services are legal, they are often hosted on the same servers as legitimate companies and can be found through public records. However, there are some organizations which do not offer such services, so avoiding them would be a wise course of action.
  • However, if you have to use Whois searches in order to gather data for your research, consider the possibility of foot printing those who register those domains. 
  • This is typically done by hackers in order to find out more information about their potential target or employer and how they can obtain access to their network remotely. If this happens with your website, then it is advisable that you contact your hoster immediately.


In conclusion, Whois foot printing is one of the ways that you can use to gather information about important organizations or large groups of people. Whether it is for research purposes or malicious intent, it is advisable that you tread carefully if you don’t want to end up causing any problems with the law. Keep these things in mind and remember that only use this technique if you plan on finding out personal information about your target.

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