What is Shodan Search Engine?

Alyssa Mattero
May 8, 2013

What is Shodan Search Engine?

Shodan, created by John Matherly about 3 years ago, is a computer search engine that crawls the internet’s back channels for servers, printers, webcams, security cameras and everything else that connects through the internet.

Shodan operates 24/7 and collects information from over 500 million connections per month.


A simple search on Shodan can retrieve information from traffic lights, home devices, HVAC equipment and even command and control systems for nuclear power plants.

If the violation of privacy isn’t trouble enough, Shodan exposes devices that don’t have security systems built into them leaving millions of devices vulnerable to hackers.

Change your passwords ASAP.

Dan Tentler, an independent security penetration tester, demonstrated the power of this technology. According to CNN, “He found a car wash that could be turned on and off and a hockey rink in Denmark that could be defrosted with a click of a button. A city’s entire traffic control system was connected to the Internet and could be put into “test mode” with a single command entry. And he also found a control system for a hydroelectric plant in France with two turbines generating 3 megawatts each.”

On a positive note, Matherly has limited search results to 10 listings for those without an account and 50 for account holders. To use Shodan to its full potential, you’ll need to give more information and a credit card.  Shodan is primarily used by penetration testers, law enforcement, academic professionals and security personnel.

So far, there have been no violent crimes associated with the search engine. Most of the cyberattacks through Shodan involve embezzlement and stealing intellectual property.

According to CNN, security professionals hope to secure Shodan by alerting those who have unprotected devices connected to the internet.

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