Active Fingerprinting vs Passive Fingerprinting

Posted by in Security+ | 0 comments

Active Fingerprinting and Passive Fingerprinting

If you take the Security+ exam, you may come across the terms active fingerprinting and passive fingerprinting. It’s worthwhile knowing the differences between the two. It’s also important to realize that fingerprinting in this context is not referring to the biometric method of authentication.

As an example, here’s a practice test question that tests your knowledge of this information.

Active Fingerprinting and Passive Fingerprinting Question

Q. You are monitoring traffic through a mirrored port on a switch. By analyzing this traffic, you are able to determine the operating system of each device connected to the switch. What does this describe?

A. Active fingerprinting

B. Passive fingerprinting

C. Port scanning

D. Vulnerability scanning

Answer at end of this blog

Pass the Security+ exam the first time you take it.
CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide

Fingerprinting and Reconnaissance

In this context, fingerprinting refers to identifying specific information about a system. It is often part of a larger reconnaissance attack. Reconnaissance provides a big-picture view of a network or servers in a DMZ. It identfies the IP addresses used in the target network using a method such as an ICMP sweep or a host enumeration sweep. Ping scanners are sometimes used for this step.

Fingeprinting then homes in on individual systems to provide details of each of them. For example, a fingerprinting attack can identify the operating system of the target and in many cases, it can identify the service pack and patches that have been installed. It can also identify the protocols and services that are running on a system and the likely role of the server based on these services. For example, if a server is listening on port 80, it is running the HTTP protocol and is very likely a web server.

When fingerprinting any system, it’s useful to know many of the commonly used well-known ports.


Security+ Practice Test Questions

SYO-501 Practice Test Questions Now Available

SYO-401 Practice Test Questions

Over 440 realistic Security+ practice test questions

All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct,

and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

Pass the Security+ Exam

the First Time You Take It

Multiple quiz formats to let you use these questions based on the way you learn.
  • Learn mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Learn mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. Use this if you want to make sure that you see all of the questions. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Test mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - 100 random questions. View 100 random questions from the full test bank similar to how the Security+ exam has a potential maximum of 100 multiple choice questions. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.

Get the full bank of Security+ (SYO-401) Practice Test Questions Here

 SYO-401 Practice Test Questions


INCLUDES QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU PREPARE

FOR THE NEW PERFORMANCE BASED QUESTIONS 

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Additional Security+ questions to help you prepare for the new performance based questions. These are included with the full bank of Security+ practice test questions and are divided into different sections. For example, you'll have access to the following links:

- Performance Based Question - Set 1

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of security to mobile devices and servers in a data center. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 2

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 3

You'll see a graphic showing a network with computers and servers separated by a firewall. The firewall is used to control traffic between the computers and users using rules within an access control list (ACL).  You'll have three questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly identify the relevant components of the rule. The incorrect answers and explanation provide you with insight into how to correctly answer this type of question on the actual exam.

- Performance Based Question - Set 4

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam related to what a forensic analyst would do during an investigation. You'll then have two questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 5

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match protocols and ports. You'll then have seven questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 6

You'll see a list of security controls along with a graphic showing devices and locations within an organization, along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the controls with the devices and locations. You'll then have four questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This question also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 7

You'll see a list of authentication methods and authentication factors along with instructions on what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match the authentication methods with the authentication factors. You'll then have six questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This set also includes a link to a graphic showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

- Performance Based Question - Set 8

You'll see a graphic explaining what you might be required to do on the actual exam to match different types of attacks with the name of the attack type. You'll then have five questions that test your knowledge and ability to correctly answer the questions. This is similar to Set 2 but expands on the possibilities. The set also includes a link to a page showing the end solution for the overall performance based question simulation.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 9

New questions recently added using a different testing engine. See a demo here. This set includes drag and drop and matching questions on ports.

New - Performance Based Question - Set 10

A random set of 20 performance-based questions using drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in-the blank. This set includes performance-based questions on RAID.

Get the full bank of Security+ (SYO-401) Practice Test Questions Here

Get the full bank of Security+ Practice Test Questions

Click here if you're looking for SYO-501 Practice Test Questions


Passive Fingerprinting

Passive fingerprinting uses a sniffer (such as Wireshark) to capture traffic sent from a system.  It analyzes this traffic to determine what the server is doing. A key point is that passive fingerprinting does not send any traffic to the target system but instead just collects the traffic. With this in mind, passive fingerprinting cannot be done from remote attackers. It can only be done with a sniffer installed in the network.

Realistic practice test questions for the Security+ SY0-401 exam
Available for the Kindle with flash cards to reinforce key testable material
Free Kindle apps from Amazon to run Kindle books on your PC, iPad, or other platforms

Active Fingerprinting

Active fingerpringinting uses active techniques to identify the role of a server. Chapters 7 and 8 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide covered several methods used with active fingerprinting. They include:

  • Xmas attack. This is a specific type of scan that sends specailly crafted packets to a system. By analyzing the return packets, the scanner can determine the operating system of the target.
  • Port scanning. A port scanner sends queries on specific ports. If the server answers a query on a port, it indicates it is listening on this port. For example, if a system answers a query on port 25, it indicates it is running SMTP and is likely an email server. Additional queries can be sent to the system to verify it is an email server.

These methods are useful for attackers trying to determine the role of remote servers.

Realistic practice test questions for the Security+ exam.
Available through Learnzapp on your mobile phone

Active Fingerprinting and Passive Fingerprinting Answer

Q. You are monitoring traffic through a mirrored port on a switch. By analyzing this traffic, you are able to determine the operating system of each device connected to the switch. What does this describe?

A. Active fingerprinting

B. Passive fingerprinting

C. Port scanning

D. Vulnerability scanning

Answer at end of this blog

Answer: B is correct. Fingerprinting a system refers to identifying specific information about a system and passive fingerprinting does this by capturing and analyzing traffic. Passive fingerprinting never sends traffic to a system but instead only passively captures the traffic.

A is incorrect. Active fingerprinting sends traffic to a system and analyzes the responses. In this scenario, traffic is sent to a mirrored port on a switch. You can configure a switch to send a copy of all traffic through the switch to a mirrored port, but this port is only used for monitoring traffic. In other words, you would not be able to send traffic through the mirrored port.

C is incorrect. Port scanning is active and sends traffic to a system to determine what ports are open.

D is incorrect. Vulnerability scanning checks for vulnerabilities. It may include active or passive fingerprinting but it does more than just determine operating systems.

Objective: 3.7 Implement assessment tools and techniques to discover security threats and vulnerabilities

Summary

Fingerprinting is used to get details on a specific target. It is often used as part of a larger reconnaissance attack.

The difference between active fingerprinting and passive fingerprinting is that active fingerprinting will send queries to the target and analyze the response. Passive fingerprinting only uses a sniffer to capture and analyze traffic, but never sends traffic to the target.

Here are some links to more resources to help you pass the Security+ exam the first time you take it.

Leave a Comment

CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list and get a free excerpt of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide.  This excerpt includes the introduction and Chapter 1.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Get Certified Get Ahead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Copyright © 2015 Get Certified Get Ahead. All Rights Reserved.