Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Scraping LinkedIn Public Profiles for Fun and Profit

Reconnaissance and Information Gathering is a part of almost every penetration testing engagement. Often, the tester will only perform network reconnaissance in an attempt to disclose and learn the company's network infrastructure (i.e. IP addresses, domain names, and etc), but there are other types of reconnaissance to conduct, and no, I'm not talking about dumpster diving. Thanks to social networks like LinkedIn, OSINT/WEBINT is now yielding more information. This information can then be used to help the tester test anything from social engineering to weak passwords.

In this blog post I will show you how to use Pythonect to easily generate potential passwords from LinkedIn public profiles. If you haven't heard about Pythonect yet, it is a new, experimental, general-purpose dataflow programming language based on the Python programming language. Pythonect is most suitable for creating applications that are themselves focused on the "flow" of the data. An application that generates passwords from the employees public LinkedIn profiles of a given company - have a coherence and clear dataflow:

(1) Find all the employees public LinkedIn profiles(2) Scrap all the employees public LinkedIn profiles(3) Crunch all the data into potential passwords

Now that we have the general concept and high-level overview out of the way, let's dive in to the details.

Finding all the employees public LinkedIn profiles will be done via Google Custom Search Engine, a free service by Google that allows anyone to create their own search engine by themselves. The idea is to create a search engine that when searching for a given company name - will return all the employees public LinkedIn profiles. How? When creating a Google Custom Search Engine it's possible to refine the search results to a specific site (i.e. 'Sites to search'), and we're going to limit ours to: linkedin.com. It's also possible to fine-tune the search results even further, e.g. uk.linkedin.com to find only employees from United Kingdom.

The access to the newly created Google Custom Search Engine will be made using a free API key obtained from Google API Console. Why go through the Google API? because it allows automation (No CAPTCHA's), and it also means that the search-result pages will be returned as JSON (as oppose to HTML). The only catch with using the free API key is that it's limited to 100 queries per day, but it's possible to buy an API key that will not be limited.

Scraping the profiles is a matter of iterating all over the hCards in all the search-result pages, and extracting the employee name from each hCard. Whats is a hCard? hCard is a micro format for publishing the contact details of people, companies, organizations, and places. hCard is also supported by social networks such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and etc. for exporting public profiles. Google (when indexing) parses hCard, and when relevant, uses them in search-result pages. In other words, when search-result pages include LinkedIn public profiles, it will appear as hCards, and could be easily parsed.

Let's see the implementation of the above:
# Copyright (C) 2012 Itzik Kotler
# scraper.py is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
# it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.
# scraper.py is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# GNU General Public License for more details.
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with scraper.py.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

"""Simple LinkedIn public profiles scraper that uses Google Custom Search"""

import urllib
import simplejson

BASE_URL = "https://www.googleapis.com/customsearch/v1?key=<YOUR GOOGLE API KEY>&cx=<YOUR GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE CX>"

def __get_all_hcards_from_query(query, index=0, hcards={}):

    url = query

    if index != 0:

        url = url + '&start=%d' % (index)

    json = simplejson.loads(urllib.urlopen(url).read())

    if json.has_key('error'):

        print "Stopping at %s due to Error!" % (url)

        print json


        for item in json['items']:


                hcards[item['pagemap']['hcard'][0]['fn']] = item['pagemap']['hcard'][0]['title']

            except KeyError as e:


        if json['queries'].has_key('nextPage'):

            return __get_all_hcards_from_query(query, json['queries']['nextPage'][0]['startIndex'], hcards)

    return hcards

def get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin(company):

    queries = ['"at %s" inurl:"in"', '"at %s" inurl:"pub"']

    result = {}

    for query in queries:

        _query = query % company

        result.update(__get_all_hcards_from_query(BASE_URL + '&q=' + _query))

    return list(result)
Replace <YOUR GOOGLE API KEY> and <YOUR GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE CX> in the code above with your Google API Key and Google Search Engine CX respectively, save it to a file called scraper.py, and you're ready!

To kick-start, here is a simple program in Pythonect (that utilizes the scraper module) that searchs and prints all the Pythonect company employees full names:
"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> print
The output should be:
Itzik Kotler
In my LinkedIn Profile, I have listed Pythonect as a company that I work for, and since no one else is working there, when searching for all the employees of Pythonect company - only my LinkedIn profile comes up.
For demonstration purposes I will keep using this example (i.e. "Pythonect" company, and "Itzik Kotler" employee), but go ahead and replace Pythonect with other, more popular, companies names and see the results.

Now that we have a working skeleton, let's take its output and start crunching it. Keep in mind that every "password generation forumla" is merely a guess. The examples below are only a sampling of what can be done. There are, obviously many more possibilities and you are encouraged to experiment. But first, let's normalize the output - this way it's going to be consistent before operations are performed on it:
"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> string.lower(''.join(_.split()))
The normalization procedure is short and simple: convert the string to lowercase and remove any spaces, and so the output should be now:
As for data manipulation, out of the box (Thanks to The Python Standard Library) we've got itertools and it's combinatoric generators. Let's start by applying itertools.product:
"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) -> print
The code above will generate and print every 4 characters password from the letters: i, t, z, k, o, t, l , e, r. However, it won't cover passwords with uppercase letters in it. And so, here's a simple and straightforward implementation of a cycle_uppercase function that cycles the input letters yields a copy of the input with letter in uppercase:
def cycle_uppercase(i):
    s = ''.join(i)
    for idx in xrange(0, len(s)):
        yield s[:idx] + s[idx].upper() + s[idx+1:]
To use it, save it to a file called itertools2.py, and then simply add it to the Pythonect program after the itertools.product(_, repeat=4) block, as follows:
"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin \
    -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) \
        -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) \
            -> itertools2.cycle_uppercase \
                -> print
Now, the program will also cover passwords that include a single uppercase letter in it. Moving on with the data manipulation, sometimes the password might contain symbols that are not found within the scrapped data. In this case, it is necessary to build a generator that will take the input and add symbols to it. Here is a short and simple generator implemented as a Generator Expression:
[_ + postfix for postfix in ['123','!','$']]
To use it, simply add it to the Pythonect program after the itertools2.cycle_uppercase block, as follows:
"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin \
    -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) \
        -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) \
            -> itertools2.cycle_uppercase \
                -> [_ + postfix for postfix in ['123','!','$']] \
                    -> print
The result is that now the program adds the strings: '123', '!', and '$' to every generated password, which increases the chances of guessing the user's right password, or not, depends on the password :)

To summarize, it's possible to take OSINT/WEBINT data on a given person or company and use it to generate potential passwords, and it's easy to do with Pythonect. There are, of course, many different ways to manipulate the data into passwords and many programs and filters that can be used. In this aspect, Pythonect being a flow-oriented language makes it easy to experiment and research with different modules and programs in a "plug and play" manner.