How to Hack: Fingerprint Web Servers Using Httprint

If you are following my site, you have undoubtedly read a few ways to identify what system a server is running. Probably the simplest way is to use netcat and connect to port 80 and pull the webserver banner.

The banner is simply the application advertising what it is. Webserver administrators who are vigilant and savvy about security will often suppress or masquerade their banners.

In other words, to throw off hackers, they might replace the banner of, say, Microsoft’s IIS 6.0 with a banner saying it is Apache 2.4.0. In that way, hackers will spend their time and effort trying to hack a relatively vulnerable IIS 6.0, get frustrated when it doesn’t work, and eventually go away.

Remember, exploits/hacks are specific to the application and operating system among many factors. That’s why fingerprinting is SO important. A hack that works on IIS 6.0 will NOT likely work on Apache.

In addition, some web administrators will put various load balancing and other devices designed to obscure the identity of the web server (Computer Associates advertises one their products with the tagline, “You can’t hack what you can’t see”).

Fortunately, there are more sophisticated ways of determining what web server is running a website. httpprint is just such a tool, which uses heuristics (an educated guess based upon incomplete, but probably sufficient data) to identify the web server as well as web enabled devices such as printers, routers, switches, etc.

Step 1: Open Httprint

Let’s start by opening httprint. Unfortunately, the GUI in BackTrack points to the wrong directory, so we need to open a terminal and type:

bt > cd /pentest/enumeration/web/httprint/linux

Once we are in the correct directory, let’s open the help screen in httprint.

./httprint -h

About a third of the way down this help screen, you can see the basic syntax for httprint, which is:

httprint -h <host> -s signatures.txt

Where signatures.txt is text file in this directory that contains the signatures of the many types of web servers that httprint uses to determine the identity of the target.

Step 2: Test It in CNN.Com

Let’s test it on‘s website.

bt > ./httprint -h -P0 -s signatures.txt

I have added the P0 to suppress the ping (like when using nmap) that often is blocked by network devices and will prohibit us from accessing the web server.

As you can see above, httprint has fingerprinted the site and tells us that reports that it is using the nginx webserver, but in reality, is running Microsoft IIS 6.0! Hmm…that is VERY INTERESTING!

Reporting that you are running nginx is a good security strategy for as there far fewer known vulnerabilities for nginx than IIS 6.0 This will help to divert most attackers, but not us!

Step 3: Let’s Try

Let’s try the same on

bt > ./httprint -h -P0 -s signtaures.txt

httprint tells us that’s website shows a banner saying it is running Apache, but httprint thinks it is Oracle’s Web Logic server. One interesting thing about httprint is that it also gives us a confidence level and here it says it is 27.71% confident. Not real high, so we’ll take this one with a large grain of salt.

Step 4: Finally, Let’s Try

Let’s try one more site and see what httprint tells us. Let’s point it at

bt> ./httprint -h -P0 -s signatures.txt

httprint tells us that although Wikipedia says it is running Apache, it deduces with a 48.8% confidence that it is running Red Hat’s TUX 2.0.

Httprint is another tool in our arsenal of reconnaissance tools to decipher the nature of the target. These tools are critical as nearly every exploit is specific, so we MUST determine what we are attacking BEFORE we attack.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.