Security Reconnaissance: Types and How It Works

Published on: 2022-04-16

What is security reconnaissance, and what does it mean for your sensitive information? Reconnaissance is the process of collecting data to help you breach a computer system. It is a tool for bad actors but also valuable for ethical hacking and securing your network services.

Hackers here use many tricks to gain information they need to access your network. The process of gathering data usually entails:

● Collecting the critical information related to the system

● Determining the network range

● Identifying active computers using the information system

● Determining which operating system you run

● Using a free or paid scanner to work out which ports run which services

● Analyzing the network map

From there, the hacker prepares an appropriate attack vector.

How Security Reconnaissance Helps Ethical Hackers Testing a Target System

Reconnaissance is a valuable tool for ethical hacking. Companies can use it to identify system weaknesses during penetration testing. The honest professional can then recommend ways to improve the protection of sensitive data.

Techniques they may use include installing vulnerability scanners and reviewing file permissions. It’s wise to conduct regular penetration testing sessions as cybercriminals use more sophisticated tools.

How It Helps Data Researchers Find Information in an Operating System

Data researchers can use reconnaissance to identify system management protocols that threaten network security. They can also use it to identify all the elements present in large networks and see how much sensitive system information is on search engines.

The Difference Between Active Reconnaissance and Passive Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance falls into one of two categories- active and passive.


With this type of reconnaissance attack, hackers look for ways of exploiting networks directly. They may try to gain access using tools such as port scanning, manual testing, automated scanning to find open ports, and other system access points.

Active reconnaissance is similar to a blitz attack. They get results in enemy territory more quickly, but they’re also obvious. There’s a better chance of cyber security professionals detecting the breach and following them back to their IP address.


For this type of cyber reconnaissance, the bad actor avoids directly approaching active machines through open ports. Instead, they use tools like Google hacking to collect information from easy to access online sources, which may include online indexes.

With passive reconnaissance, your confidential information gathering session is more likely to remain anonymous. As you do not interact with the target system directly, your inquiries won’t stand out from the hundreds of IP addresses that visit the site.

The Stages in the Reconnaissance Process


During this data-gathering stage, the penetration tester will use several strategies to access the information they require. As with any project, the better prepared you are, the more successful you are. Footprinting should take up more time than any other stage.

This is about collecting information such as inception data, security configurations, operating system information, and the network map. At this stage, they have almost everything they need for a rough idea of how well you protect your system.


During this stage, the hacker sifts through the data to find network assets, client names, administrative systems, and machine names. This enables them to determine the best course of attack and how to access the system later.

At this stage, they may be able to determine if the data is worth the effort of hacking it.


Cybercriminals use various types of scanning software to identify weaknesses within the framework. Running such scans allows them to determine any connected devices on the local area network.

Doing so identifies the company’s protocols for sign-in, what services they use, and how their administrator secures the system. Scanners can, for example, detect that you use two-factor authentication, where the firewalls are, and the basic layout of your system.

The three most popular types of scan are:

Port Scanning: This identifies each port on the system and the services that run through it. Finding an open port may provide access to the system.

Vulnerability Scanning: Vulnerability scanners automatically audit the security of the network. They identify potential weak spots that cybercriminals might use.

Network Mapping: This gives the penetration tester the “blueprints” of the system. It will show the position of any routers or hardware on the network. It will also provide information about secure or walled-off sections of data. It is one of the professional hacker’s top tools.

Wrapping Up

Reconnaissance is an essential tool for both ethical hackers and cybercriminals. You should schedule regular tests to ensure that their networks remain secure, but it can be expensive and labor-intensive.

At least, it used to be. Today the team at Ful.io can alleviate some of that stress by building custom software that speeds up security reconnaissance . Speak to us today about better security for your digital assets by calling (343) 303-6668 or reaching out through our website.

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