Open Source Intelligence in the Legal Field – Google Hacking/Dorking

This is a continuation for the Open Source Intelligence (OSNIT)in the Legal series of articles.

Smart Searching with Google Dorking

Investigative organizations, security auditors, and tech-savvy individuals utilize “googleDorking,” also known as “Google hacking,” to query multiple search engines for information hidden on public websites and vulnerabilities revealed by public servers. Dorking is a technique for utilizing search engines to their best potential in order to penetrate web-based services to depths previously unattainable.

All you need to carry out a googleDork is a computer, an internet connection and knowledge of the appropriate search syntax.

A computer, an internet connection, and knowledge of the appropriate search syntax are all required to perform a googleDork.

Dorking can be used on a variety of search engines, not just Google. Search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo accept a search term or a string of search terms and return results that match. Search engines, on the other hand, are programmed to accept more advanced operators that refine those search terms. 

A search engine operator is a key word or phrase that has a specific meaning for the search engine. Operators include terms like “inurl,” “intext,” “site,” “feed,” “language,” and so on. Each operator is followed by a colon, which is then followed by the appropriate term or terms (with no space before or after the colon).

Google Dorking Tips For Lawyers / Advocates

  1. Exact Phrase

Of all the advanced search tips, this is the one that almost everyone is familiar with, and it is by far the most useful query. Enclosing a search phrase in double quotes will only return results that contain the exact phrase you’re looking for. This is especially useful when conducting searches on individuals with common names, such as witnesses, plaintiffs, or defendants.

If you Google a person’s name without the quotes, Google assumes that you want the words to be close together, but it doesn’t force the words to be together, which would give you more pointed results.

But the quotes can be used for more than just searching for a name. For example, if you are trying to confirm that Jane Wanjiku (made up person) attended the University of Nairobi, to get more specific results you can search:

       “Jane Wanjiku” “University of Nairobi”

Here’s a secret that you might not have known: If you really want to delve into a person’s background, there are six ways to search a person’s name.

For example, if you wanted to find out more about Jane Wanjiku here are six things you could do:

“Jane Wanjiku”

“Jane” “Wanjiku”

“Wanjiku, Jane”

“J. Wanjiku”

“Wanjiku, J.”

“Jane * Wanjiku”

  • Excluded words

Let’s imagine you’re looking for information on a man named Jane Wanjiku, a Nairobi-based Business Woman. However, a short Google search reveals that there are a few of other Jane Wanjiku, including an athlete, a professor and any other Jane who is not of interest.

If you wanted to filter Google to avoid these results, you could use a hyphen (functioning as a minus sign) to exclude words from your search:

“Jane Wanjiku” -“ athlete”

“Jane Wanjiku” -“ professor”

Or, if you wanted to get really advanced, you could filter everything by putting it in one search string:

“Jane Wanjiku” -“ athlete” -“ professor”

  • Site-specific search

You can use Google search to look for the presence of a specific word on a given website. Instead of scanning the entire Internet, you might prefer to concentrate your efforts on a single website.

For Example, in your search for Jane Wanjiku, you may want to search within the University of Nairobi website or anytime Jane Wanjiku is mentioned in the University of Nairobi Website. You would search “Jane Wanjiku”

All results will be from the University of Nairobi excluding the whole internet

  • OR Search

If you’re searching for more than one phrase and want one or both of them to come up, you’ll want to utilize the OR search. For the search to function properly, the OR must be capitalized.

So, if you wanted to search for numerous versions of a name, you’d type:

“Jane Wanjiku” OR “Wanjiku Jane”

You could be extremely diligent and combine all of the name variations into a single string:

                “Jane Wanjiku” OR “Wanjiku Jane” OR “J. Wanjiku” OR “Wanjiku, J.”

  • FileType

You may skip searching online pages and limit your search to certain sorts of files, such as PDFs, spreadsheets, and Microsoft Word documents, by using the filetype search.

What is the benefit of this?

Annual reports, financial statements, company plans, curriculum vitae, court filings, and scanned papers may all contain references (yes, Google is searching for words in documents too).

filetype:pdf “Jane Wanjiku”

You can find a full list of employees and their contact information concealed on a website when running a filetype search for Excel documents on a corporation.It was a veritable Jackpot of knowledge.

To make it more interesting you can search for a filetype in a specific Website. For example, Finding budget documents on the National Treasury Website

This dork will bring you all pdfs that contain the word budget:

Budget site: filetype:pdf  

You could be extremely diligent and combine all of the file type variations into a single string:

Budget site: filetype:pdf  OR Budget site: filetype:docx OR Budget site: filetype:xslx

  • Around

AROUND search is a Google tool that allows you to search for terms that are close to one other within a specified amount of words. To put it another way, you can make Google display two words next to each other.

So, if you just want to see results containing Jane Wanjiku within 20 words of The National Treasury, you’d type:

“Jane Wanjiku” AROUND(20) “The National Treasury”

The word AROUND must be capitalized, while the number 20 mentioned above can be any number.

This is useful when you need to narrow down a large number of results.

Or if you’re attempting to bring two parties together.

For example, if you were trying to link Jane Wanjiku to Wambu, you might try something like this:

“Wambua” AROUND(30) “Jane Wanjiku”


This tool will return results if the searched term exists only in the URL itself, not in the body of the text.

This is very useful when looking for social media profiles. If you know Ms. Jane goes by the username “janewanjiku” on social media, for example, you may do something like this:


  • Combination

These approaches can be combined to create extremely complex Google searches. It’s known as “Google dorking” or “Google hacking”

If you wanted to see if there was anything bad about Jane Wanjiku out there and wanted to discover some information, you could do something like this:

“Jane Wanjiku” (arrest OR assault OR attack OR bribe OR corruption OR criminal OR defraud OR fraud OR illegal OR indict OR investigation OR launder OR misconduct OR misrepresent OR negligence OR violation OR sanction OR terror)

Or if you wanted to get even deeper:

“Jane Wanjiku” AROUND(20) (arrest OR assault OR attack OR bribe OR corruption OR criminal OR defraud OR fraud OR illegal OR indict OR investigation OR launder OR misconduct OR misrepresent OR negligence OR violation OR sanction OR terror).


You can uncover so much information using google if you know how to use google like a pro. You can apply this in your legal practice to get quicker and more accurate results from a google search.

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