Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

“What is OSINT?” you may ask. The phrase, which is the short form for open source intelligence, denotes a data collection method that employs publically accessible public databases. (If you are asking “what’s really is an open-source data,” this post will also provide an explanation to that.) But what distinguishes open source intelligence from other types of data mining is that it extends beyond searching search engines with multiple combinations of the same keyword.

OSINT is quite literally the essence of any investigation that requires online information.  You cannot really consider an investigation thorough, without also considering OSINT checks.
OSINT is quite literally the essence of any investigation that requires online information. You cannot really consider an investigation thorough, without also considering OSINT checks.

OSINT is a word coined by the United States military. It came to effect in 1980. They sought to explore a mechanism to keep up with evolving intel to maintain a strategic frontline boost. Experts are using OSINT data in a variety of sectors to perform a variety of tasks. Sales and marketing groups, for example, utilize it to enhance conversions, while cyber security groups use it to execute inspections and mitigate risks.

This article will define OSINT, go through some of the top common OSINT tools and methodologies, the OSINT structure, and much more. Let’s understand what open source information and open-source intelligence are without any further ado.

The bridge between open-source intelligence (OSINT) and open-source information

OSINT is a system of techniques, technologies, and approaches for passively gathering data from public or freely available sources. Traditionally, open-source intelligence refers to open-source information collected through traditional media such as publications, television, and radio. To obtain specific information, we nowadays use:

  • Forums
  • chat rooms
  • social networks
  • the dark web (available through TOR browser)

In certain circumstances, such as social networks, OSINT has evolved into a distinct subcategory known as SOCMINT, which stands for “social media intelligence.”

Significant advantages of utilizing OSINT

There are various advantages to an open-source intelligence catalog. Some of the benefits include: 

  • If you are on a tight budget, traditional data collection approaches and technologies may not be a realistic option—the primary advantage of utilizing OSINT is to acquire data at the cost of minimal financial commitment.
  • Because the information collected is not confidential and has been openly circulated, obtaining any such information is permissible.
  • People routinely exchange and upgrade information since it is based on public sources.
  • Commercial owners and policymakers can receive insight from OSINT data, which can aid in the development of long-term initiatives for a number of business objectives.
  • OSINT may also be a powerful instrument in national welfare and security.

Skills needed for OSINT jobs

OSINT analyst is a great job opportunity for those who enjoy analyzing and interpreting data. OSINT  analysts typically work for government organizations, although they can also operate in other businesses. If you want to work as an OSINT analyst, understanding what sorts of employment are available might help you locate the ideal one for you. Now, let us talk about some of the core skills that are required to be an OSINT analyst. 

Information technology

Because modern intelligence assessment is primarily reliant on software applications, OSINT analysts must have a proper working understanding of computer frameworks with everything from interacting with members of the team to gathering and evaluating data. IT certifications are available to those who do not have a degree in a technology-related subject.

Database management

OSINT analysts must understand utilizing and handling databases because they invest so much of their work time with meaningful and critical information. OSINT  analysts must understand how to locate information from the database and how to modify or change information accurately.

Threat assessment and analysis

Analysts should be capable of processing a broad array of information and predicting the most likely outcomes. To aid with their evaluations, OSINT analysts examine facts such as biography, geographic data, demographics, and individual profiles. They give their assessment to assist a business in reacting to a variety of risky or high-stakes scenarios, making a precise assessment of a situation critical.

Bilingualism 

Bilingualism is a hugely helpful talent for OSINT analysts because much of their analysis may include different cultures. Intelligence agencies that engage with foreign intelligence require precise information provided by dependable interpreters. When seeking employment with a government organization, several demands are most likely to understand languages such as Russian, Arabic, and Chinese. The languages searched for by business analysts differ based on the industry.

Cybersecurity

Several of today’s attacks are transmitted via computer networks, including the internet. Thus OSINT analysts strive to safeguard critical computer systems from external access. An in-depth understanding of cybersecurity across several systems, digital forensics expertise, coding abilities, and a thorough grasp of how hackers work can better enable OSINT analysts to conduct research, distribute data, and spot cybersecurity concerns.

The best course to enroll in to study OSINT

A Certified in Open Source Intelligence (C|OSINT) course is the initial and only worldwide acknowledged and authorized open-source intelligence board certificate course. You will acquire real-world techniques that police departments, intelligence operatives, private detectives, information security, cyber guards, and hackers all employ to assist in their operations.

Open Source Information, Social Networking Information, Cyber Inquiries, Intelligence Gathering, Military Intelligence, Legal Principles, and more will be covered. Even better, this certification and its materials are online and self-paced! Regardless of whenever you want it, wherever you want it, it is available 24/7. 

Some of the companies that hire a certified OSINT are Amazon, SAIC, CACI, Homeland security, and IBM. The course is available online at the cost of $1547. 

OSINT blogs to look out for

Learning OSINT is similar to taking a bath! You wouldn’t just take one wash and be clean eternally. To maintain your expertise and avoid becoming rusty, you must constantly practice your OSINT analyzing skills and stay aware of the industry’s going on. So, perhaps, this list of blogs will assist you in accomplishing that. 

UserSearch

UserSearch is a global search engine for usernames and emails, but it also has an extensive blog all about OSINT. Their research is second to none, and their articles are easy to read.

BellingCat

A fantastic blog and newsletter from the famed, acclaimed, and respected (or, in this instance, reviled by the Russian government) group of independent journalists.

Bushido Token

A threat intelligence website operated confidentially by an experienced security researcher. Excellent information on numerous tools and investigation approaches. 

Cyber Shafarat

They speak on cyber defense and inquiries that are pertinent to the Middle East and Asia. Additional topics, such as jihadism and leaking intelligence, are well covered.

Daniel Miessler

A comprehensive blog from a well-known security expert and blogger. Covers information security and privacy news on a regular basis. A distinct voice that connects technological, futuristic, philosophical, and moral themes.

Bleeping computer

Bleeping Computer, well-known for its reporting of malicious programs, is typically the first publication to properly cover a breaking news story. A1 information security journalism.

Best OSINT tools 

Manually searching the web to analyze your target company or individual might be time-intensive. Fortunately, the current wave of “OSINT-ware” eliminates this barrier for both hackers and pent esters. These technologies enable them to swiftly identify the more progressive elements of a target’s system with minimal effort.

Pastebin, DuckDuckGo, Google Maps, and social networking sites are all terrific places to begin. Nevertheless, there are a number of other technologies that may assist you in gathering intelligence more proficiently:

UserSearch – a global osint search engine for usernames

A global osint search engine for usernames and email addresses.  One of the largest and oldest of its kind, it's over 12 years old and still very active and growing!
A global osint search engine for usernames and email addresses. One of the largest and oldest of its kind, it’s over 12 years old and still very active and growing!

UserSearch is a global search engine, specifically for Usernames and email addresses. It scans thousands of forums and social networks, to find user profiles under the username you have entered into their search tool. It’s one of the largest and most popular of its type online.

They also have a premium version in production, which scans even more sites and covers a lot of dating sites and adult entertainment sites. It’s used quite a bit by private investigators when hired to investigate infidelity within relationships.

ScamSearch – A global database for anti-scammers

Quite literally the largest database for OSINT within the anti-scam world.  They are a crowd-sourced database where victims record details of their scammer, allowing anti-scam investigators to see the information and further their own work.
Quite literally the largest database for OSINT within the anti-scam world. They are a crowd-sourced database where victims record details of their scammer, allowing anti-scam investigators to see the information and further their own work.

ScamSearch is relatively new on the block but has rapidly become a big contender in the anti-scam space, forming some major partnerships. It is quite literally what it says on the screen, a global database of reported scammer details. They have a huge database (8 million or so) of scammers recorded, including the username they used to do the scam, email address, the website where they tried to scam someone plus a description of the scam itself. It’s totally funded, meaning the database is populated by the actual victims.

How does this help you in OSINT? well, they let you search their database totally free. You can even add ‘guessed’ or similar details, such as a rough email address, and will show you similar emails within their database. All this is totally free of course.

GHDBa google hacking database

An index of search queries that can be used in Google to find publically available information, typically used by pen testers and security researchers.
An index of search queries that can be used in Google to find publically available information, typically used by pen testers and security researchers.

In the year 2000, ethical hacker and cybersecurity specialist Johnny Long created the Google Hacking Database (GHDB) for pen-testers. It’s a collection of search searches that show intriguing data that was most likely accidentally made public. A search tool analyzing a document with a confidential data link is one example of accidental exposure. The search tool may then follow it and extract whatever information it contains.

You may search GHDB for details such as extensive error messages including confidential material such as:

  • Paths to directories,
  • Files containing confidential information, credentials, or identities, as well Files containing confidential information, credentials, or identities, as well as 
  • data regarding corporate networks.

Shodanendpoint investigations

A full solution used for researching various digital items that are connected to the internet.  Typically used by security researchers to test device security.
A full solution used for researching various digital items that are connected to the internet. Typically used by security researchers to test device security.

This tool searches for information from the endpoints it examines, such as the organization, application, sequence number, or other details. The program includes criteria to assist filter down the outcomes, such as nation, location, os version, item, model, domain names, and so on. It exposes a massive quantity of publicly available unsafe data as well as exposure to online applications of IoT products with poor or preset credentials, devices such as cameras in people’s homes, and other vulnerable gadgets.

While performing vulnerability analysis, pen testers might utilize Shodan to detect unsafe web services. The program comes with a convenient plan that allows for a limited amount of examinations, or you may upgrade to a premium version. On the other hand, corporations can request Showdan to eliminate their data from the databases. 

MaltegoGeneric OSINT tool..a great one!

An all-in-one solution to integrate public information into an investigation pub.  It focuses on using external APIs to gather information and then presents it within an interface.
An all-in-one solution to integrate public information into an investigation pub. It focuses on using external APIs to gather information and then presents it within an interface.

This is an input aggregator for numerous OSINT datasets that focuses on infrastructure espionage. This program may collect a variety of sensitive data about any target company, including:

  • Staff email accounts
  • sensitive documents that were inadvertently made public
  • DNS servers
  • IP address details

The tool may also be used for private reconnaissance to acquire info about people. Maltego works with search engines such as Google to aggregate all of this data in one accessible destination.

SpiderFoot

A unique tool that analyses small pieces of information across the web, focusing mainly on IP addresses.
A unique tool that analyses small pieces of information across the web, focusing mainly on IP addresses.

This is an open-source tool that automates the collection of information such as Ip, DNS servers, e-mail addresses, users, names, subnetworks, and so on. This application enables you to analyze any strange IP addresses, fraudulent scam email accounts, or HTTP protocols. It’s also critical for firms to track any material that has been accidentally made public.

Metagoofil

An OSINT gathering tool that focuses on meta information of public documents (pdf/doc / xls etc).
An OSINT gathering tool that focuses on meta information of public documents (pdf/doc / xls etc).

This is yet another OSINT device that utilizes Google to gather information from openly released files (.pdf,.doc,.xls,.ppt, etc.) pertaining to any targeted network. After downloading the files to the local drive and extracting the information. It creates a statement using several libraries such as Hachoir, PdfMiner, and others.

Foca

Foca - OSTIN tool
Foca – OSTIN tool

It is a network infrastructure tracing tool, that can collect and analyze information from several file kinds (pdf, doc, etc.) provided at the same time or given jointly. It may also list individuals, e-mail accounts, the software utilized, and other valuable information.

NexVision

NexVision - OSTIN tool
NexVision – OSTIN tool

This is a tool that uses cutting-edge A.I.-powered OSINT technology that delivers real-time intelligence from the entire World wide web (Clear Web, Dark Web, and Social Media). It enables unparalleled access to Deep web searches using standard browsers such as Firefox and Chrome browsers, rather than the unauthenticated Tor.

This also delivers precise real-time responses for background checks, fact-checking, customer onboarding regulations (KYC/AML/CFT), gathering organization information, third-party information, cyber threat insight, or even information on bitcoin addresses from a malware threat.

Tineye

Tineye – OSTIN tool

This tool is used to do an image-related online search for OSINT. It has a variety of contexts such as the tineye warning system, color research Interface, mobile algorithm, and so on. You may look up whether an image is accessible online and where it has been featured. Tineye obtains the findings by the use of neural systems, machine intelligence, and pattern classification. Instead of keyword verification, it employs picture matching, watermark recognition, signature pairing, and a variety of additional factors to fit the image. The website also provides API add-ons and browser plugins. 

Search code

When compared to scanning for a code phrase, scanning for text is simple. If you check for a code snippet on Google, you will get either no matches or irrelevant responses. Search code allows you to look for a program code that may be accessible on multiple code-sharing platforms such as Github. Users can look for procedures or techniques, attributes, actions, security issues, and anything else that could be a code snippet. Users may look for strings as basic as “c++” all the way up to complicated techniques.

Recon-ng

Recon-ng is an excellent tool for gathering target data for osint. This is also included in Kali. The customizable approach is what gives this product its strength. Those who have been using Metasploit will be familiar with the capabilities of modular programs. On the target, several components can be utilized to extract data as needed. Simply add domains to the workstation and utilize the modules. 

Conclusion

To be honest, there is indeed a lot to learn whenever it comes to addressing the topic “what is OSINT?” ” As a result, we hope this post clarifies open =source information, open-source intelligence, and the OSINT paradigm, and demonstrates the many OSINT technologies accessible to the users. 

By AndrewJ