Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/13/2012
06:25 AM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Quick Hits
50%
50%

How To Use Google To Find Vulnerabilities In Your IT Environment

The bad guys use search engines to seek out weak spots. Here's how to beat them to the punch

[The following is excerpted from "Using Google To Find Vulnerabilities In Your IT Environment," a new report posted this week on Dark Reading's Vulnerability Management Tech Center.]

The vast volumes of information available on the Internet are of great value to businesses -- and to hackers. For years, hackers have been using Google and other search engines to identify vulnerable systems and sensitive data on publicly exposed networks. The practice, known as Google hacking, has seen a resurgence of late, providing new challenges for IT professionals striving to protect their companies from threats growing in number and sophistication.

Google hacking -- a term used for penetration testing using any search engine -- surged in popularity around 2004, when computer security expert Johnny Long first released his book Google Hacking for Penetration Testers and the Google Hacking Database (GHDB). The database was designed to serve as a repository for search terms, called Google-Dorks, that exposed sensitive information, vulnerabilities, passwords, and much more.

There recently has been an upswing in Google hacking, with a few factors playing a role in the practice’s growth. For one thing, the amount of data indexed and searchable by Google and other search engines has skyrocketed in the last few years. Simply put, this has given hackers much more to work with.

There has also been a significant increase in new search engine interfaces to various types of data. Examples include Google Health and Google Code Search (recently shut down), which have allowed users to search through patient health records and open source code projects, respectively. We’ve also seen the emergence of security-specific search engines such as Shodan come into play. These search engines were created specifically for use by penetration testers to identify vulnerable Web applications on the Internet.

We saw a frightening example last year of just how effective Google hacking can be when the group LulzSec used Google hacking techniques to go on an epic spree that left in its wake a number of victims, including Sony, PBS, Arizona’s Department of Public Safety, FBI affiliate InfraGard, and the CIA.

However, what’s good for hackers is also good for corporate security professionals, who can make use of Google hacking tools and other resources to identify -- and then eliminate -- vulnerabilities in their data systems. The majority of these tools are free and easy to use, although experience and skills associated with Web application security are helpful in validating scan results and identifying which results are real security issues and which are not.

There is no one tool that will serve as a silver bullet in eliminating search engine exposures. We encourage security professionals to try out and regularly use as many as possible to gain as much security coverage as possible over their network perimeter.

For more information on these free tools -- and how to use them to find vulnerabilities in your own environment -- download the full report on Google vulnerability research.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Bprince
50%
50%
Bprince,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2012 | 6:19:30 PM
re: How To Use Google To Find Vulnerabilities In Your IT Environment
The Yale breach from last year is another example of how Google can be used by attackers to find all sorts of things...in that case, records were exposed for nearly a year.Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator-
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/4/2020
Data Loss Spikes Under COVID-19 Lockdowns
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  5/28/2020
Abandoned Apps May Pose Security Risk to Mobile Devices
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13817
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
ntpd in ntp before 4.2.8p14 and 4.3.x before 4.3.100 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (daemon exit or system time change) by predicting transmit timestamps for use in spoofed packets. The victim must be relying on unauthenticated IPv4 time sources. There must be an off-path attac...
CVE-2020-13818
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
In Zoho ManageEngine OpManager before 125144, when <cachestart> is used, directory traversal validation can be bypassed.
CVE-2020-6640
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
An improper neutralization of input vulnerability in the Admin Profile of FortiAnalyzer may allow a remote authenticated attacker to perform a stored cross site scripting attack (XSS) via the Description Area.
CVE-2020-9292
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
An unquoted service path vulnerability in the FortiSIEM Windows Agent component may allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges via the AoWinAgt executable service path.
CVE-2019-16150
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
Use of a hard-coded cryptographic key to encrypt security sensitive data in local storage and configuration in FortiClient for Windows prior to 6.4.0 may allow an attacker with access to the local storage or the configuration backup file to decrypt the sensitive data via knowledge of the hard-coded ...