11 Mar, 2024

Google Dorking: What It Is and How It Can Affect Your Website

Discover what Google Dorking is, how it works, and the many strategies you can use to protect your website from unwanted intrusion.
Despite numerous high-profile cybersecurity attacks and data breaches, many companies remain vulnerable to hacking efforts. Brute force attacks and phishing are far from the only way into a company's private files. Google Dorking features an approach that can reveal website vulnerabilities often used for legitimate purposes. However, malicious actors have used it to identify and refine attack approaches that have helped them successfully access websites. Taking relatively straightforward steps, which start with understanding how Google Dorking works, can protect your website from unwanted intrusion.

What Is Google Dorking?

Google Dorking is a type of Google search that incorporates advanced commands and operators to reveal particular information about a website. Dorking can help a user find specific file types, backlinks, or keywords in a website or its title, among other information. All this information is pulled from the vast repository of data Google's crawlers index when they scan the Web. Dorking techniques are simply methods to retrieve this information and are not illegal nor against Google's terms of service.

However, Dorking techniques can return sensitive information that has not been properly safeguarded, such as server credentials, confidential documents, and database information. Even if this information has been made publicly accessible, accessing and using it can violate Google's terms of service, data privacy laws, and other regulations and statutes.

Hackers often use Dorking techniques to identify security vulnerabilities and implement cyber-attacks. Conversely, cybersecurity experts use these hacking techniques to identify security gaps and potential exploits. Website administrators and cybersecurity professionals should better understand how this Google hacking method works and what vulnerabilities it can reveal to safeguard their websites, data, and operations.

How Google Dorking Works

Common Dorking techniques include the use of several search operators, including:

  • Cache: This command allows a user to display the last indexed version of a website.
  • Ext: Using this command, followed by a specific file extension, will return files with that extension.
  • Filetype: This operator, followed by a file extension, will return files of that type.
  • Info: Following this command with a specific website will yield a cached version of it, related pages, and sites that link to it.
  • Inurl: "Inurl:" followed by a keyword will yield pages with that keyword in a URL.
  • Intext: The "intext:" operator, paired with specific text, returns pages with specific text on the page.
  • Intitle: "Intitle:" coupled with specific words or terms, offers users webpages with those words or terms in the title.
  • Link: Users can leverage the "link:" operator to find pages linking to a specified URL.
  • Phonebook: This can help users find publicly accessible phone directory information.
  • Site: This operator, followed by a URL, allows users to search within the site specified after the colon.
While these are some of the most common commands, Google Dorking techniques are not limited to these ten. Thousands of Dorks can also uncover extensive information about websites and web applications.

Ethical Uses of Dorking

As mentioned above, Dorking has several practical purposes. Users can leverage Dorking techniques to find things online. For example, a user on a poorly laid out website may use Dorking commands to find specific items. Or a student might be looking for non-gated research papers on a particular subject and may pair their research terms with "filetype: PDF" to find publicly accessible academic papers on the topic.

Cybersecurity professionals routinely use Dorking commands to identify vulnerabilities on behalf of their employers or clients. No matter how a person intends to use Google Dorking, they must understand relevant statutes, regulations, and case laws governing this particular cyber activity.

Unethical Uses of Dorking

However, Dorking is frequently used for unethical purposes. Individuals may use Dorking commands to gather private information about others without their consent. Malicious actors may use Dorking commands and operators to obtain confidential or proprietary information, identify vulnerabilities, or launch targeted cyber attacks.

What Kind of Vulnerabilities Can Dorking Uncover?

Hackers don't even need to go to the dark web to find Google Dorking methods to find:

  • User and administrative login credentials
  • Proprietary information and other confidential data
  • Business and personal financial information
  • Email addresses and other contact information
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Government and military records
  • Accessible webcams
Many websites offer not only basic Dorking commands but also walk visitors through the scripts they would need to write to:

  • Access pages with sensitive information Google indexes
  • Develop Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) code injection attacks on vulnerable websites and web applications
  • Identify websites vulnerable to SQL injection
  • Find websites that can be accessed due to security misconfiguration
  • Search for websites with directory listing enabled, which may leave database credentials exposed
These methods and more can be initiated with information found with Google Dorks.

How to Safeguard Against Risks from Google Dorking

Mitigating the risks that Google Dorking exposes begins with regular cyber security audits and cybersecurity awareness training. Cybersecurity professionals must consistently perform comprehensive website audits to identify and remediate any vulnerabilities. Moreover, website administrators and other individuals with the authority to create webpages and web applications on company servers must receive training on the threats Dorking poses to ensure they do not inadvertently create vulnerabilities. Of course, all employees should also engage in routine cybersecurity awareness training to mitigate threat risks.

Additionally, businesses should avoid putting sensitive information online where and when possible. Correctly configuring a robots.txt file and using "NoFollow" and "NoIndex" tags can ensure that crawlers are not scanning sensitive files and directories. Restricting file and directory permissions can also help mitigate risks.

Effective security audits and vulnerability testing start with employing a robust and trusted online cybersecurity solution. Utilizing Quttera's cost-effective ThreatSign! platform allows businesses and cybersecurity professionals the best way to analyze their online assets, identify malware, monitor security metrics, and prevent blacklisting. ThreatSign! can help firms like yours identify information vulnerable to Google Dorking and give you the insights you need to remediate those vulnerabilities.

Using ThreatSign! can also help you guard against a range of threats, from viruses and spyware to trojans and malicious redirects. Even if a hacker has seized sensitive information from a website or web application, Quterra has the solutions and expertise to mitigate the damage they can cause.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you safeguard against Google Dorking and web protection with ThreatSign!