Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context. In the intelligence community, the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources).
It is one of the key aspects in understanding the cyber-security that rules the Internet these days.
The term OSINT comes from many decades ago, in fact, US military agencies started using the term OSINT in the late 1980’s as they were re-evaluating the nature of information requirements in tactical levels under battlefields. Then in 1992, the Intelligence Reorganization Act determined the main goals of intel gathering included key concepts like:
- Must be objective intelligence free of bias
- Data must be available on public and non-public sources
While the concept of OSINT has evolved since then, as it does not include the non-public sources, the concept originates from that time.
Open-source intelligence (OSNIT) is the insight gained from processing and analyzing public data sources such as broadcast TV and radio, social media, and websites. These sources provide data in text, video, image, and audio formats.
How these OSINT tools Work?
During this process, publicly available sources are searched for information. The key point here is that the information is not classified, in other words, it is public, legal and free. Online sources such as blog entries, social media profiles or images are primarily used for this but more professional sources such as newspapers or business reports are also combed through. This often results in a huge, relatively complex collection of data artefacts which first needs to be structured and correlated.
Now a days we have various OSINT tools like virustotal, Shodan, mxtoolbox and etc.
Why we need these OSINT tools?
Knowing information is available is one thing but using them in your job and cyber security. The information can be gathered manually as well but that will take the time that can instead be used in the later stages. Tools can help us gather the data from hundreds of sites in minutes and thus easing the collection of data. OSINT tools optimize our search by giving us precise results from all the publicly available resource around the world.
In our coming post we will describing the use of some good OSINT tools, which you can also use in your IT jobs.
OSINT Tools are now integral part of any cyber security Investigation.