What Is OSINT And Why Your Organization Needs It

Are you looking for information about Open Source Intelligence? Learn more about OSINT.

Most people do not know what is meant by OSINT when talking about cybersecurity, tools, infosec and open source. However, it is a very important topic that many organizations around the world have to deal with on an ongoing basis. OSINT stands for Open Source Intelligence. It is a key aspect in dealing with cybersecurity and all that it entails with regards to the internet.

The term was originally coined by the military in the 1980s. The military was taking time to re-evaluate the requirements of information with regard to tactical levels in battle. In 1992, the new rules of gathering intel included new concepts such as:

  • Data gathered must be found on both non-public and public sources, including functional testing.
  • The intelligence needs to be free of bias.

  • The concept of OSINT has changed significantly since then, but it doesn't include non-public sources anymore. Open-source intelligence is any information that can be collected from any public sources like the internet. It does not matter where the information comes from. It can be found in online blogs, newspapers, tweets, images, blogs, podcasts, social media posts, videos and more. If it is legal, public and free, it can be included in OSINT information.

    How Organizations Can Benefit From OSINT

    When an organization gets the right information into their hands from these free, legal and public sources, they may use that information to obtain a competitive advantage against their competition. It can also be used to help or speed up investigations within an organization due to intellectual property theft.

    Most people will associate OSINT with cybersecurity, cyber-attacks and cyberwars. However, there are many more examples to include such as asking questions in search engines, watching a YouTube video and researching public forums for answers to questions. You don't have to be an online hacker to be using OSINT on a daily basis.

    Increase Conversions

    Marketing, product and sales management teams constantly use OSINT to help increase their organization's conversion rates. They may also use it to help improve the efficiency of the services they offer to their consumers.

    Save Time During Investigations

    Within the cybersecurity field, using proper OSINT tools with your investigations can be very effective. The effectiveness can be more significant when combined with a clear OSINT strategy and critical thinking. When an investigation is being conducted in your organization against a person or company, or you are on the accused side of the investigation, having set OSINT techniques will allow your company to save time, money and mitigate any future threats.

    Boost Cybersecurity Defenses

    Many IT companies have yet to embrace OSINT for boosting their cybersecurity defenses. In time, this can turn into a serious problem because they will not be able to effectively detect or identify services, apps or other possible threats to their servers.

    Resources and Techniques For OSINT

    Before you decide which techniques and mechanisms will work best for your organization's benefits, certain questions should be asked including:

  • Who or what is our target?

  • What are we looking for specifically?

  • What is our research goal priorities?

  • How will we conduct our research?

  • The first step in your OSINT investigations should be to answer these questions. Your overall OSINT strategy will require having to find which sources are going to be relevant to your search and which ones are going to be a waste of time. Below are some of the more popular types of OSINT searches and techniques many organizations use on a regular basis when it comes to cybersecurity.

  • Monitor and review search engine queries.

  • Collection of employee names, the software they use and job roles.

  • Monitoring of corporate forums and blogs.

  • Identify social networks used by target companies or individuals being investigated.

  • Review public content available on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

  • Find interesting information from old cached data on Google.

  • Find email addresses, home address and phone numbers from social media and online search queries.

  • Search videos and photos from sharing sites like Flickr and Google Photos.

  • Use OSINT software to search for related keywords online in public sources.

  • These are just some of the more common techniques organizations can use. Once the research has been completed, there is going to be a lot of data ready to analyze and put to use. The final step in your OSINT strategy will be to use the relevant data to translate into a format that is human-readable. Most heads of companies are non-tech savvy and will require the results of the research to be understandable.

    Now it is clear to see the many benefits a good OSINT strategy can offer. It can boost cybersecurity investigations, prevent attacks to your organization's network and keep private information about your company, workers, servers, domain names, IP addresses and more safe and secure. At its basic form, OSINT can help your organization find and use relevant data intelligence to get ahead of the competition.

    Article by Tony John
    Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.

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