Using Subfinder with module
5 min readOct 19



Many of you have used Subfinder at least once in your life. For those who, for some reason, have not heard of this tool, I will explain.

Subfinder is a utility from ProjectDiscovery designed for passively list subdomains. It is distinguished by its speed, abundance of available sources, ease of setup, and its popularity. Moreover, relatively recently, the ProjectDiscovery team integrated Netlas into their tool, adding a new search module.

This article will tell you exactly how to connect Netlas when using Subfinder, what settings you need to make in the configuration file, and what restrictions you may encounter. Enjoy reading!

Before you start


Installing the utility is quite simple. There are three options in total:

  1. Build from sources using the “go” command. This method will be described in more detail;
  2. Download the archive of the required release and unpack it;
  3. Clone the repository from GitHub and use the “build” command.

Let’s focus on the first method. First, you need to check if the Go language is installed on your device and if its version meets the requirements of the tool. To do this, enter the following command in the terminal:

go version

The result should be something like this:

If you do not have the language or the required version (min. 1.20), you can install it via snap using the following command:

snap install go

Once you download the language pack, you can proceed directly to installing Subfinder. To do this, ProjectDiscovery recommends the command:

go install -v

Installing complete!


In general, you can already use Subfinder. However, the purpose of this article is to connect the Netlas module to it. Therefore, the next step will be setting up the configuration file.

Here we need to make changes to two files at once: config.yaml and provider-config.yaml. Go to the $HOME/.config/subfinder directory and check for their presence. If the directory is empty or missing, run Subfinder using the command:

subfinder -h

This will give you a short list of settings and options for the utility. It should look like the following image:

After this, return to the $HOME/.config/subfinder directory.

So what do we need to configure? Let’s start by entering the API key. Open provider-config.yaml, find the line dedicated to Netlas, and add your API key in square brackets. It is simple.

Offtop: How to get your key?

You need an API key to use the module for Subfinder. Create an account on if you do not have one. Go to your Profile page, copy the API key, and insert it into your provider-config.yaml.

Here you can access your profile
Here is the API key


The next step is to configure the frequency of calls to the API. The fact is that Netlas does not return results more than once per second. The developers at ProjectDiscovery considered this by setting a wait in the code, but in my testing, it turned out that this limitation does not always work. Therefore, it is better to configure the delay separately in the configuration file.

To do this, open config.yaml. There you need to find the rate-limits line, uncomment it, and add the line “netlas=1/s” in square brackets. It will look like this:

This completes the basic setup required to use the Netlas module inside Subfinder. You can also read the configuration files yourself in case you need to connect other tools, such as Shodan or Censys. I will move on to examples of use.


Let’s take a closer look at them.

The -d or -dL flags are used to specify the target domain. The first implies that you are looking for subdomains for only one domain name (I will use this one in the examples), and the second is for a number of names.

Next, you need to specify the data source. The flags used here are -s (one source, will be used in the examples), -recursive (only sources that support recursive search of subdomains are launched), -all (all sources, slowest mode), and -es (excluding some sources from the list).

Thus, to search for subdomains using the Netlas module, we can use the following command:

subfinder -d -s netlas

This command should return all subdomains of the already-familiar site. Let’s launch it.

A total of 1427 subdomains were found. By opening, you can verify that this is exactly how much is stored in the Netlas database.

In addition, when you log into your personal account, you can see requests from Subfinder in your search history.


Unfortunately, when using Subfinder with the Netlas module, you may encounter one problem. The fact is that when implementing the integration, the ProjectDiscovery team used the Search API method, which is, to a certain extent, unstable. The module will work fine on small and medium-sized surfaces (up to 4,000 subdomains), but on large surfaces, the data reception may be interrupted. Therefore, when trying to get all subdomains, I encountered an error somewhere around the seventh thousand. Of course, there are many more.

Therefore, I advise you to consider this point and use a combination of several tools if you are building a large-scale attack surface.

It is also important to clarify that we have already reported this issue to the ProjectDiscovery team, and it may be resolved in the future. When this happens, I will update this section.


Many information security professionals prefer a powerful tool such as Subfinder. In turn, Netlas is one of the best IoT search engines. Their combination can give you truly high-quality reconnaissance, and the connection of some other sources, such as Shodan and Censys, will leave no chance for the surface being explored to hide something.

That is all I have for today. Good luck!



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