Does anyone know if using Dirbuster [link] to scan for unlisted directories and their contents is (possibly) legal in say the US?

3 Answers 3


If you don't have permission to perform security testing against a target, don't do it.

In the US, you are definitely at risk of falling foul of the The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 1986, 1994, 1996 and possibly other acts. It's easy enough to set up a test target of your own, ask a friend for permission to test their site, or use a service such as Webgoat or Gruyere.

Essentially, if you are seen to be someone who knows what you are doing, then even typing in a single-quote to a web form has been enough to be arrested and charged over in the past.

No permission, no pen testing. It's simple. Why risk it.

  • To be honest I'm curious about a site in the making, and I kinda wanted to take a sneak peek seen as the directories are fully unprotected. xD I could just hide myself behind proxies but I think I'll do the right thing and pass. =)
    – Happy
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 17:30
  • 2
    @Happy, judges don't tend to treat "I was just curious" as extenuating circumstances. Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:52

You should only test on software you own or have written consent to test on. If you wan't to "play" and test there are a lot of options. One such good one is the DVWA . Here is even a script to get the entire thing up and running in a few clicks.


I'm with @Cheekysoft, basically using any knowledge over and above point and click is ilegal unless youve got it in writing from the legal owners of the target/client systems. It's meant to be vague as technology moves infinitely faster than legislation.

  • in fact i'm almost 100% certain that anyone working in technology except the cleaning ladies are technically criminals
    – Alex
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 23:11

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