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How to Find Anything On the Internet

An Amateur’s Guide for Open Directories

 

If you are a frequent Internet surfer, you might have come across the term ‘open directories’ before. These huge, mysterious heaps of files that seem to serve some non-defined purpose.

So the question here is, what are exactly the so-called Open Directories?

The easy answer is that they are simple file directories on the Internet that are not password protected and can contain any type of file, such as movies, TV shows, music, books, et cetera.  

But, what is their purpose and why are they left unprotected? Well, mostly because these Open Directories are the default folders you use when you upload files that will later be added or linked to another website. 

If you wanted to show a certain image on the homepage of your website, you might be interested in hosting it for easy access. Or better, you can even host files on the internet that you may or may not want to link to. 

The folder where those files are stored, is called an Open Directory. Most often than not, when you navigate to an Open Directory, you’ll find a long list of links that won’t mean much unless the creator of that Open Directory named the files in a useful or understandable way.  

Open directories can be, but aren’t always, a vulnerability or oversight. Most companies wouldn’t want to leave sensitive data to be exposed by anyone who knows where to look, so they keep their hosting protected. 

Thusly, the greatest part of Open Directories tends to come into by misconfiguration of apache or network-attached storage (NAS), or perhaps they weren’t a mistake at all and someone just wants to share what they have.

But… how do you find Open Directories, or more importantly, a specific file?

Well, if you are looking for a movie, you could try typing the following sequence in Google (or any other searching engine): 

Name of Movie +(.mkv|.mp4|.avi|.mov|.mpg|.wmv) intitle:”index of” -inurl:(jsp|pl|php|html|aspx|htm|cf|shtml) -inurl:(listen77|mp3raid|mp3toss|mp3drug|index_of|wallywashis)

Let’s take a look about what each of these parts mean. 

Where it says “Name of the Movie” you would want, of course, to replace it with the name of the movie you are trying to find. It is followed by several file extensions, and the search result should include at least one of them. The inurl indicates that you are looking for an Open Directory, while the –inurl serves to exclude any results that are supposed to look like index listings but actually aren’t.

But now, if you were looking for another type of file, say an ebook, those extensions should be something like this: 

+(.MOBI|.CBZ|.CBR|.CBC|.CHM|.EPUB|.FB2|.LIT|.LRF|.ODT|.PDF|.PRC|.PDB|.PML|.RB|.RTF|.TCR)

Or if you are looking for music files: 

+(.ogg|.mp3|.flac|.wma|.m4a)

Or images: 

+(.jpg|.gif|.png|.tif|.tiff|.psd)

 

As you can see, the task in itself isn’t complicated, but it can become quite tedious to have to include those extensions manually every time, or search for the correct one. Luckily, there are a lot of sites that can do that work for you. 

 

The most popular one is: http://palined.com/search/

All Open Directories can be searched at that site, which is basically a plain google search with advanced options, for easier use. You only have to select the type of file you want to find, and write a name or key word. Once you click on “Give me the directories,” the site makes sure to fill in the rest of the searching sequence.

 

Another useful tool is: http://www.searchftps.net/

This site will give you a download link, you should copy and download with the aid of your favorite downloader. You can also copy that link into FileZilla ( https://filezilla-project.org/ ) to uncover the whole directory that has other related files. One can directly download using FileZilla with drag and drop, or retrieve the URL for download from a Download Manager.

 

But, now that we are clear on the meaning of Open Directories and how to find them, comes another question. Are Open Directories safe to download from? Or even more, is it legal to use them? 

If you are worried about malware or viruses because of an Open Directory, have in mind that any frequent downloader should always have some active protection (be it Avast or Malwarebytes, or any other antivirus). You should check your ports every now and then for abnormal traffic, and your processes for anything that isn’t explained by what you have installed. 

Other than that, Open Directories don’t represent a bigger safety issue in regards to malware than a regular download. Of course, any of these files could have been tampered with and include malware of some sort, but so is almost any other file on the Internet. If you learn the basics of secure computing and malware mitigation, you should have no problem with Open Directories.

 

About the legality of them, you should know that, in order for you to connect, the webserver where the Open Directory is hosted will know your IP address, and of course your ISP could see that you’re downloading whatever file from that server. 

It depends on your ISP and their policies, as well as your location for complying with local laws, whether this is or not an issue.

Considering the content of the files themselves, some are copyrighted and not supposed to be distributed (for example, movies or music), but others are freely available and distribution is encouraged (such as Linux ISOs, or CC licensed Video). 

It’s up to you the use you give to these Open Directories, but once you know how to use them, they can be certainly helpful with finding that one specific file you need in between the ravenous ocean of information that is the Internet.