What is OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence)? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

As far back as World War II, highly trained agents in the intelligence community have monitored open-source information such as radio broadcasts, newspapers and market fluctuations. Today, given the number and variety of easily accessible data sources, nearly anyone can participate in open-source intelligence gathering.

Some of the public sources from which OSINT researchers collect data points include:

  • Internet search engines such as Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex.

  • Print and online news media including newspapers, magazines and news sites.

  • Social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, X, Instagram and LinkedIn.

  • Online forums, blogs and Internet Relay Chats (IRC).

  • The dark web, an encrypted area of the internet that is not indexed by search engines.

  • Online directories of phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses.

  • Public records including births, deaths, court documents and business filings.

  • Government records such as meeting transcripts, budgets, speeches and press releases issued by local, state and federal/national governments.

  • Academic research including papers, theses and journals.

  • Technical data such as IP addresses, APIs, open ports and web page metadata.

However, before data collection from OSINT sources begin, a clear objective should be established. For example, security professionals who use OSINT first determine which insights they seek to uncover, and which public data will yield the desired results.

After the public information is collected, it must then be processed to filter out unnecessary or redundant data. Security teams can then analyze the refined data and create an actionable intelligence report.


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