Especially when it comes to Bug Bounty hunting, reconnaissance is one of the most valuable things to do. There are still "easy wins“ out there which can be found, if you have a good strategy when it comes to reconnaissance. Bounty hunters like @NahamSec, @Th3g3nt3lman and @TomNomNom are showing this regularly and I can only recommend to follow them and use their tools.

In this Blogpost I want to explain, how I am normally performing reconnaissance during Pentests and for Bug Bounties.

An Overview

The biggest challenge is: WHERE SHOULD I START?!
Well, you need a plan. The following illustration (click to enlarge) might look a bit confusing, but I try to explain a lot of the steps in this post:

Recon Masterplan

Basically, we want to identify as many endpoints as possible, sort and filter them, scan them automatically and perform manual assessments where applicable - easy right?

We need to identify assets which belong to the target company and are in-scope. The first thing is to identify domains and sub-domains belonging to the target.

Subdomain Enumeration

Subfinder is a subdomain discovery tool that discovers valid subdomains for websites. Designed as a passive framework to be useful for bug bounties and safe for penetration testing.
GitHub Link

# Install
go get

# Basic usage
subfinder -d >

# Recursive
subfinder -d  -recursive -silent -t 200 -v -o

# Use censys for even more results
subfinder -d -b -w wordlist.txt -t 100 -sources censys -set-settings CensysPages=2 -v -o

In-depth Attack Surface Mapping and Asset Discovery
Installation instructions can be found here.

# passive
amass enum --passive -d -o 

# active
amass enum  -src -ip -brute -min-for-recursive 2 -d -o

Use certificate transparency logs provides a PostgreSQL interface to their data. The script below extracts sub-domains for a given domain name using PostgreSQL Interface
GitHub Link

Get alerted if a new subdomain appears on the target (using a Slack Bot)
Sublert is a security and reconnaissance tool which leverages certificate transparency to automatically monitor new subdomains deployed by specific organizations and issued TLS/SSL certificate. Technical details here: here
GitHub Link

Find domains and subdomains related to a given domain
GitHub Link

# Install
go get -u

# Basic usage
assetfinder [--subs-only] <domain>

GetAllUrls (gau) for Subdomain-Enumeration
Fetch known URLs from AlienVault's Open Threat Exchange, the Wayback Machine, and Common Crawl.
Github Link

# Install 
GO111MODULE=on go get -u -v

# Extract subdomains from output
gau -subs | cut -d / -f 3 | sort -u

Search Engines

Use Github search and other search engines
The tool subfinder (look above) already provides the possibility to use search engines for subdomain enumeration, but it does not support GitHub.
Make sure you check Github - type in the Domain of the company and manually look through the code-results. Interesting endpoints and probably secrets that shouldn't be there can be found!

Github Recon
GitHub is a Goldmine - @Th3g3nt3lman mastered it to find secrets on GitHub. I can only recommend to watch his Video together with @Nahamsec where he shares some insights.
Be creative when it comes to keywords and use their search! Check their GitHub company profile, filter for languages and start searching: hmac

Within the results check the Repositories, Code, Commits and Issues. Code is the biggest one where you will probably find the most. Issues is a goldmine - Developers tend to share too much information there ;)

Some things you can search for:

  • “” “dev”
  • “”
  • “” API_key
  • “” password
  • “” authorization

Additionally, here are some tools (won't go into detail here) which I use regularly:

Do not forget Google - it can be worth it! Some examples (taken from here):

  • -www
  • intitle:”test” -support
  • ext:php | ext:html
  • inurl:auth
  • inurl:dev

So, if you want to find WP-Config files with cleartext DB-credentials in it, just go ahead:

inurl:wp-config.php intext:DB_PASSWORD -stackoverflow -wpbeginner -foro -forum -topic -blog -about -docs -articles

Do not forget to use other search engines such as Shodan. Some examples (taken from here):

  • country: find devices in a particular country
  • geo: you can pass it coordinates
  • hostname: find values that match the hostname
  • net: search based on an IP or /x CIDR
  • os: search based on operating system
  • port: find particular ports that are open
  • before/after: find results within a timeframe

Shodan also provides a facet interface, which can be very helpful if you want to get an overview about bigger network-ranges.


Censys can be compared with Shodan - have a look at it.


Get Subdomains from IPs

HostHunter a recon tool for discovering hostnames using OSINT techniques.
GitHub Link (includes installation instructions)

# Basic usage
python3 <target-ips.txt> > vhosts.txt

After enumerating subdomains, we can try to find additional subdomains by generating permutations, alterations and mutations of known subdomains.

Altdns is a DNS recon tool that allows for the discovery of subdomains that conform to patterns. Altdns takes in words that could be present in subdomains under a domain (such as test, dev, staging) as well as takes in a list of subdomains that you know of.

GitHub Link

# Installation 
pip install py-altdns

# Basic usage
altdns -i known-subdomains.txt -o raw-data_output -w words.txt -r -s results_output.txt

Generates combination of domain names from the provided input.
GitHub Link

# Installation 
pip3 install dnsgen

# Basic usage
dnsgen known-domains.txt

When doing DNS permutations using various tools, not all of them check, if the outcome actually resolves to an IP-Address. The fastest way to resolve thousands of (sub)-domains is massdns.

A high-performance DNS stub resolver for bulk lookups and reconnaissance (subdomain enumeration)
GitHub Link

# Installation 
git clone
cd massdns

# Basic usage
./bin/massdns -r lists/resolvers.txt -t A domains.txt > results.txt

#In combination with dnsgen 
cat domains.txt | dnsgen -w words.txt -f - | massdns -r lists/resolvers.txt -t A -o S -w massdns.out

Now you should have a fairly large list of subdomains and corresponding IPs. I will not go into detail on how you do a TCP or UDP portscan or how you conduct an automated vulnerability scan in this post.
An interesting fact for us as security researchers is, if the discovered subdomains have web-services running.

Take a list of domains and probe for working HTTP and HTTPS servers
GitHub Link

# Install
go get -u

# Basic usage
$ cat recon/example/domains.txt
$ cat recon/example/domains.txt | httprobe

# Use other ports
cat domains.txt | httprobe -p http:81 -p https:8443

# Concurrency - You can set the concurrency level with the -c flag: 
cat domains.txt | httprobe -c 50

Additionally, we can check if any subdomain is vulnerable to subdomain takeover:

Subjack is a Subdomain Takeover tool written in Go designed to scan a list of subdomains concurrently and identify ones that can be hijacked.

GitHub Link

# Install 
go get

# Basic usage
./subjack -w subdomains.txt -t 100 -timeout 30 -o results.txt -ssl

Other tools to scan for subdomain takeover vulnerabilities:

Screenshot all Websites for Visual Recon
After we compiled our list of HTTP enabled targets, we want to know, what webservices are running on these hosts. One of the first steps I perform is to actually have a look at the website. The easiest and fastest way to do this for a lot of targets is to perform automated screenshotting of all targets.


EyeWitness is designed to take screenshots of websites provide some server header info, and identify default credentials (if known).
GitHub Link

# Install instructions can be found here

# Basic usage
./ -f filename --timeout optionaltimeout

# Further examples
./EyeWitness -f urls.txt --web
./EyeWitness -x urls.xml --timeout 8 
./ -f urls.txt --web --proxy-ip --proxy-port 8080 --proxy-type socks5 --timeout 120


A simple script to screenshot a list of websites, based on the url-to-image PhantomJS script.
GitHub Link

# Clone
git clone

# Basic usage
python -i list.txt -w 40

URL and Parameter Discovery

The easiest active way to discover URLs and corresponding parameters on the target is to crawl the site.

A fast web spider written in Go
GitHub Link

# Install
go get -u

# Basic usage
# Run with single site
gospider -s "" -o output -c 10 -d 1

# Run with site list
gospider -S sites.txt -o output -c 10 -d 1

# Also get URLs from 3rd party (,,, and include subdomains
gospider -s "" -o output -c 10 -d 1 --other-source --include-subs

# Blacklist url/file extension.
gospider -s "" -o output -c 10 -d 1 --blacklist ".(woff|pdf)"

Web applications use parameters (or queries) to accept user input. We want to find as many parameters as possible which we can later scan or review manually. That's where Arjun comes in:
GitHub Link

# Install
git clone

# Scanning a single URL
python3 -u --get
python3 -u --post

# Scanning multiple URLs
python3 --urls targets.txt --get

# Multi-threading
python3 -u --get -t 22

GetAllUrls (gau)
We already covered gau above. GetAllUrls (gau) fetches known URLs from AlienVault's Open Threat Exchange, the Wayback Machine, and Common Crawl for any given domain. Inspired by Tomnomnom's waybackurls.

# Install 
GO111MODULE=on go get -u -v

# Basic usage
printf | gau
cat domains.txt | gau
gau -subs


After having assembled a huge list of subdomains, URLs, and parameters, we now want to filter them, and remove duplicates.

Removes duplicate URLs and parameter combinations
GitHub Link

# Install
go get -u

# Basic usage
~# cat urls.txt
# Remove duplicates
~# cat urls.txt |qsreplace -a

We can use the following tool to find potentially interesting URLs

A wrapper around grep to avoid typing common patterns. For example one can write the following gf template to grep for potential URLs that are vulnerable to open-redirects or SSRF
GitHub Link

~/.gf# cat redirect.json 
    "flags" : "-HanrE",
    "pattern" : "url=|from_url=|load_url=|file_url=|page_url=|file_name=|page=|folder=|folder_url=|login_url=|img_url=|return_url=|return_to=|next=|redirect=|redirect_to=|logout=|checkout=|checko

~# cat urls-uniq.txt
~# gf redirect urls-uniq.txt

Some more ideas on gf patterns can be found here, including patterns for interesting subdomains, SSRF and more:

Use BurpSuite's passive scans
It makes total sense to "import" as many URLs as possible into BurpSuite. How to "import"? Here is how I do it:

cat urls.txt |  parallel -j50 -q curl -x -w 'Status:%{http_code}\t Size:%{size_download}\t %{url_effective}\n' -o /dev/null -sk

BurpSuite automatically performs passive checks on the way (e.g. DOM-Based-XSS).
Use extensions like Secret Finder to find secrets in responses (e.g. API keys).
Use AWS Security Checks to find AWS Bucket security issues.
There a tons of useful extensions which to (semi) passive checks - have a look in the BApp-Store!

Discover even more content

Find all js files
JavaScipt files are always worth to have a look at. I always filter for URLs returning JavaScript files and I save them in an extra file for later.

A great write-up about static JavaScript analysis can be found here:
Static Analysis of Client-Side JavaScript for pen testers and bug bounty hunters

cat urls.txt | grep "\.js" > js-urls.txt

# check, if they are actually available
cat js-urls.txt | parallel -j50 -q curl -w 'Status:%{http_code}\t Size:%{size_download}\t %{url_effective}\n' -o /dev/null -sk | grep Status:200

A python script that finds endpoints in JavaScript files
GitHub Link

# Install
git clone
cd LinkFinder
python install
pip3 install -r requirements.txt

# Basic usage
# Get HTML report
python -i -o results.html

# Output to CLI
python -i -o cli

As explained before, there are BurpSuite Plugins checking for secrets in HTTP responses.
There are also other tools available to discover potential secrets in various files (again, check all JS files!):

Find hidden directories or files

Fast web fuzzer written in Go
GitHub Link

# Installation
go get

# Basic usage
ffuf -w wordlist.txt -u

# Automatically calibrate filtering options
ffuf -w wordlist.txt -u -ac

# Fuzz file paths from wordlist.txt, match all responses but filter out those with content-size 42
ffuf -w wordlist.txt -u -mc all -fs 42 -c -v

For Web fuzzing, you need good wordlists. You can use default wordlists, provided by DirBuster, or special wordlists from the SecLists repository. You should also use a custom wordlist which fits the current target. You can use CeWL for that:

CeWL is a Custom Word List Generator
GitHub Link

~ cewl -d 2 -m 5 -w docswords.txt
~ wc -l docswords.txt
13 docswords.txt

Final Thoughts

This is just the way I do it and I tried to cover most of my default procedure here in this post. I will try to update this every now and then - there are tons of great tools out there which make our lives easier.

In my opinion, good recon is essential. You have to find things that nobody else found before in order to find those critical bugs. Make sure you have a plan and document everything you found, you will probably need it later.

If you have questions or suggestions, just drop me an E-Mail

Make sure to follow @Offensity on Twitter for future updates!

Who we are

We are a team of security enthusiasts based in Austria that want to make the Internet a better and safer place. Offensity provides contentious monitoring of your external infrastructure and uses a lot of the techniques described here. Make sure to test our tool - it's completely free for 4 weeks! Go ahead!

Further Resources and Tools