Shodan (website)

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Shodan (website) logo.png
Type of site
search engine
Available inEnglish
Created byJohn Matherly Edit this at Wikidata
Launched2009 (2009)
Current statusActive

Shodan is a search engine that lets the user find specific types of computers (webcams, routers, servers, etc.) connected to the internet using a variety of filters. Some have also described it as a search engine of service banners, which are metadata that the server sends back to the client.[1] This can be information about the server software, what options the service supports, a welcome message or anything else that the client can find out before interacting with the server.

Shodan collects data mostly on web servers (HTTP/HTTPS – ports 80, 8080, 443, 8443), as well as FTP (port 21), SSH (port 22), Telnet (port 23), SNMP (port 161), IMAP (ports 143, or (encrypted) 993), SMTP (port 25), SIP (port 5060),[2] and Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP, port 554). The latter can be used to access webcams and their video stream.[3]

It was launched in 2009 by computer programmer John Matherly, who, in 2003,[4] conceived the idea of searching devices linked to the Internet.[5] The name Shodan is a reference to SHODAN, a character from the System Shock video game series.[4]


The website began as Matherly's pet project, based on the fact that large numbers of devices and computer systems are connected to the Internet. Shodan has since been used to find systems including control systems for water plants, power grids and a cyclotron.[5][6]

Media coverage[edit]

In May 2013, CNN Money released an article detailing how Shodan can be used to find dangerous systems on the Internet, including traffic light controls. They show screenshots of those systems, which provided the warning banner "DEATH MAY OCCUR !!!" upon connecting.[7]

In September 2013, Shodan was referenced in a Forbes article claiming it was used in order to find the security flaws in TRENDnet security cameras.[8] The next day, Forbes followed up with a second article talking about the types of things that can be found using Shodan. This included Caterpillar trucks whose onboard monitoring systems were accessible, heating and security control systems for banks, universities, and corporate giants, surveillance cameras, and fetal heart monitors.[9]

In December 2015, various news outlets, including Ars Technica, reported that a security researcher used Shodan to identify accessible MongoDB databases on thousands of systems, including one hosted by Kromtech, the developer of the MacOS security tool MacKeeper.[10]


The website crawls the Internet for publicly accessible devices, concentrating on SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems.[11] Shodan currently returns 10 results to users without an account and 50 to those with one. If users want to remove the restriction, they are required to provide a reason and pay a fee.[6] The primary users of Shodan are cybersecurity professionals, researchers and law enforcement agencies. While cybercriminals can also use the website, some typically have access to botnets that could accomplish the same task without detection.[6]

Popular culture[edit]

Shodan was featured on the American drama series Mr. Robot in October 2017.[12] Referenced in MacGyver 2016 Season1, Episode 1


  1. ^ "SHODAN Help". SHODAN. Retrieved 21 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "SHODAN FAQ". SHODAN. Retrieved 21 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Shodan: The IoT search engine for watching sleeping kids and bedroom antics
  4. ^ a b O’Harrow Jr, Robert (June 3, 2012). "Search engine exposes industrial-sized dangers". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 10, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b O’Harrow Jr, Robert (June 3, 2012). "Cyber search engine Shodan exposes industrial control systems to new risks". Washington Post. Retrieved January 9, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c Goldman, David (April 8, 2013). "Shodan: The scariest search engine on the Internet". CNN Money. Retrieved April 8, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Goldman, David (May 2, 2013). "Shodan finds the Internet's most dangerous spots". CNN Money. Retrieved June 21, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Hill, Kashmir. "Camera Company That Let Hackers Spy On Naked Customers Ordered By FTC To Get Its Security Act Together". Retrieved 2013-10-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Hill, Kashmir. "The Crazy Things A Savvy Shodan Searcher Can Find Exposed On The Internet". Retrieved 2013-10-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Degeler, Andrii. "13 million MacKeeper users exposed after MongoDB door was left open".
  11. ^ Brinkmann, Martin (April 9, 2013). "Shodan, a search engine for vulnerable Internet devices". Retrieved April 9, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "'Mr. Robot' Rewind: Hacking a DEF CON CTF in the lights out season 3 premiere". GeekWire. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2018-05-17.

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