It is a process used for gathering information of a target machine/system. It is first process of ethical hacking.
There are classified into two type of reconnaissance, based on the way of collection information from target system.
In this process you will directly interact with target machine to gather information. This information is accurate. But it has risk of detection if hacker are performing without permission.
As the name itself say active, which means it done actively by direct contact with target machine which can increase the chance of detection.
Information can be collected by browsing through website of the target system to collect information, by collecting information from unlogged email id in browser, etc.
In this process you will indirectly / not directly interact with target machine to gather information. This information is may be accurate. It has less or no risk.
As the name itself say passive, which means it done passively without direct contact with target machine.
Information can be collected using Whois Search, Collecting IP address, Modification in DNS records, collecting organisational information from browsing through various social sites or blogs.
Usually both types of reconnaissance are important in order to gain information of target machine as much as possible and to create proper attack plan.
This process is a foundation for all the other process required to hack target machine.
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