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passive reconnaissance

(pas´iv ri-kon´&-zents) (n.) The process of collecting information about an intended target of a malicious hack without the target knowing what is occurring. Typical passive reconnaissance can include physical observation of an enterprise's building, sorting through discarded computer equipment in an attempt to find equipment that contains data or discarded paper with usernames and passwords, eavesdropping on employee conversations, researching the target through common Internet tools such as Whois, impersonating an employee in an attempt to collect information, and packet sniffing.

Compare with active reconnaissance.

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