What is Dumpster Diving?

What is Dumpster Diving?

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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Feb 23, 2023 18:07 IST

In cybersecurity, dumpster diving is one of the passive attacks that an attacker or a hacker use in order to get their hands on sensitive and confidential information. They can even use dumpster diving attacks to find information that can help them attack a computer network and launch malware by penetrating the network.


So, what exactly is a dumpster diving attack in cybersecurity? What type of information can a hacker get by using this attack? Answers to all such queries will be given in this article. But, before we dive deeper into the article, let’s first explore the topics listed under the table of contents (TOC) we will cover.

Table of Contents (TOC)

What is Dumpster Diving? 

Somewhere or the other, you might have heard a popular proverb: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This proverb seems to fit 100% when talking about dumpster diving.

Dumpster Diving Definition: Dumpster Diving is a passive attack in which a hacker searches trash in order to find useful information about a person or an organization that can be used for malicious activities, such as hacking. 

In layman’s terms, in cybersecurity, dumpster diving is an attack that involves searching for sensitive or confidential information that individuals or organizations have discarded. Malicious actors often use dumpster diving attacks to attack large organizations or carry out other attacks, such as phishing, social engineering attacks, etc.

You can also explore: What is a Salami Attack and How to protect against it?

Dumpster Diving Attack Example 

Suppose a well know organization is migrating from one place to another because of some requirements. While they were in the process of migration, they decided to dump all the unnecessary documents and old computers in a dumping area that was not far from their initial place.

The documents and the dumped electronic devices contained sensitive information, such as employee IDs, company transactions done over the last few years, and so on. A cybercriminal or an attacker decided to dive into the dumpster to find useful information. And, by chance, he found the documents that contained the email ID of the employees.

Once he has found such sensitive information, he can use it for malicious purposes, such as hacking. He can use a phishing or social engineering attack that can trick an employee into releasing confidential information or even giving access to his machine. Attackers can even use the information for other criminal activities, such as identity theft or fraud.

You can also explore: What Is Eavesdropping & How To Prevent It?

What Type of Information Can a Hacker Find? 

Here are some examples of information a hacker can find using dumpster diving:

  • Personal information: Hackers can find discarded papers or documents containing personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, or dates of birth. This information can be used for identity theft or other types of fraud.
  • Financial information: Dumpster diving can also yield financial information such as bank statements, credit card statements, or invoices. This information can be used to make fraudulent purchases or gain unauthorized access to accounts.
  • Passwords and log-in credentials: Sometimes, people write down their passwords or log-in credentials on paper and then throw them away. Hackers can find this information and use it to access online accounts or company networks.
  • Confidential documents: Companies sometimes discard confidential documents containing business plans, trade secrets, or sensitive customer information. Hackers can use this information to gain a competitive advantage or to blackmail individuals or companies.
  • Technology devices: Sometimes, people may throw their old laptops, smartphones, or other devices without properly wiping their data. Hackers can retrieve the data and use it for malicious purposes.

Overall, dumpster diving can be low-tech, but it sure is an effective way for hackers to gather information for malicious activities.

How to Prevent Dumpster Diving Attack? 

Here are some steps you can take to significantly reduce the risk of a dumpster diving attack and protect your sensitive information:

  1. Use encryption: Use encryption to protect sensitive data stored on laptops, smartphones, or other devices. 
  2. Use strong passwords: Use secure passwords and do not write them down or store them in an easily accessible location.
  3. Educate your employees: Ensure they know the dangers of dumpster diving attacks and train them to properly dispose of sensitive information.
  4. Implement a clean desk policy: Encourage employees to keep their desks clean and tidy and avoid leaving sensitive documents or information in the open.
  5. Secure your trash or recycling bins: Lock them so only authorized personnel can access them. This will prevent unauthorized access to your trash and recycling.
  6. Use secure disposal methods: Use a secure disposal service that destroys sensitive documents and materials. They will ensure that the materials are destroyed completely and irretrievably.
  7. Shred sensitive documents: Use a shredder to destroy any papers or documents containing personal, financial, or confidential information. This will make it much harder for a hacker to organize the information.


In this article, we have explored what dumpster diving is. We have also explored its example, information that attackers can gather using this attack, and how to protect yourself from such an attack. If you have any queries related to the topic, please feel free to send your queries to us in the form of a comment. We will be happy to help.

Happy Learning!!

About the Author
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio