I need to access a web server to get some files. I have an Ethernet cable that I can connect my laptop to the server, but I cannot use SSH or remote desktop because I don't know the server's username, password, IP address and port.

Is there a way to get access without these credentials only with the cable connection?

  • 1
    without knowing the server's IP address and port its impossible. If you knew these, you can set up a static IP on the client end, and connect directly on purpose.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Jun 11 at 10:16
  • 2
    Hi, I can go wrong, but it seems to me that this task, even it could be possible in theory, require some not-so-basic knowledge and some skills that sounds a bit beyond your current level (I apologize if this may sound a bit rude). Moreover it is usually "a gray area" when some user needs to connect to some dangling Ethernet cable attached to a server. I suggest you to ask for help to the involved sysadm if possible
    – sigmud
    Commented Jun 11 at 10:22
  • 2
    There really shouldn't be a way to get access without the password! At all.
    – pjc50
    Commented Jun 11 at 10:22
  • Can you shut down the web server and remove the disk drive? You could put it in a disk drive caddy and then read it, assuming the disk isn't encypted. Also assuming that you have permission to do that sort of thing. Commented Jun 11 at 10:51
  • A "web server" by definition uses HTTP protocol, so you don't need SSH or remote desktop, nor the "server's username, password". As @JourneymanGeek commented, you do need the server's IP address and port (although 80 is the standard/default port number for HTTP). And assuming that this server is not providing DHCP service, then you also need to manually assign a static IP address to your laptop, and thus make an ad hoc connection. If you've ever connected to the setup (web) page of a router unit with just a PC, then you've done almost the exact same thing.
    – sawdust
    Commented Jun 12 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Over Ethernet – no; you still have to find out its IP address and some kind of credentials.

The IP address might be easy to find using Wireshark or tcpdump (assuming it still has one by the time you've connected it; you might see it trying to get a DHCP lease from your laptop instead), but network access credentials cannot really be found or bypassed if all you've got is the same network access – that's kinda the whole point of SSH or RDP requiring credentials.

So assuming you can't get that information from the server's (previous?) owner, you'll need to 1) shut it down, 2) decide whether you want to reset the credentials and get it back running, or whether you want to focus on getting data out of it. If you only need files – either boot a liveCD with a different OS, or physically take out the disk drives and connect them to a different OS. (A regular Linux live USB stick should do the job.)


If you connect directly the ethernet cable, then "link local address" should get assigned to both network adapters (unless some special settings are applied). The addresses will be 169.254.*** (see wikipedia's article).

Afterwards you can probably use "arp -a" in Windows CMD to show the known IPs-MACs. with some luck it will appear there. It might be required to ping all the addresses to get at least one reply. (for me pinging the broadcast address did not work for some reason) For Linux same approach might be usefull (ping and arp-a), but nmap is much easier.

After you know the IP of the computer you can try to open the IP. Most web servers need the server name to work properly, so you might have to add the IP-Name in the hosts file.

  • If it’s a server it’s probably set to a static IP rather than DHCP and will not get a link local address. But arp and/or tcpdump should be usable to find out the server’s IP address as soon as it starts taking.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jun 16 at 16:30

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