Powerful tool to scour document metadata updated

FOCA examines the metadata in documents, which reveals a wealth of information about networks and users

A Spanish company has released an upgraded version of a powerful software application that can be used to perform intelligence gathering on a company's Web site and network.

The application, called FOCA (Fingerprinting Organizations with Collected Archives), will download all documents that have been posted on a Web site and extract the metadata, or the information generated about the document itself. It often reveals who created the document, e-mail address, internal IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and much more.

It's possible to see the number of computers in an office, which ones are connected to printers and get a good idea for how a network is structured. FOCA is currently being used by government security agencies, penetration testers and even hackers, said Chema Alonso, a security researcher with Informatica64, a Spanish consultancy.

FOCA can also identify OS versions and application versions, making it possible to see if a particular computer or user has up-to-date patches. That information is of particular use to hackers, who could then do a spear phishing attack, where a specific user is targeted over e-mail with an attachment that contains malicious software.

The latest version of FOCA, release candidate 1, has new abilities to discover subdomains or other alternative domains within a company network. If FOCA discovers an internal domain name, FOCA will look for other servers that may be on the internal network, Alonso said.

"The idea is to dig and dig and dig in the metadata to obtain more information," he said.

FOCA has also been equipped to query Robtex, a Web site that offers services such as DNS (Domain Name System) lookups and IP information. FOCA will send an IP address to Robtex and then get a list of other servers on the network, Alonso said.

"That gives us more power to analyze the internal network," Alonso said.

Within the next couple months, Alonso said he expects to release another version of FOCA that will improve the application's ability to identify OSes based on the documents it analyzes. FOCA can do that somewhat now, but not for every kind of document on every kind of operating system.

FOCA is a free application but isn't open source. Alonso developed FOCA as part of his doctorate's degree work, and now Informatica64 manages the project.

The company sells a product called Metashield Protector, which clears the metadata from a document before it leaves the company network. Metashield Protector does this by modifying the document on the fly. The original metadata is preserved, though, on the company network, Alonso said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags searchFOCAmetadata

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?