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A Brief Introduction to Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)

The following article provides an introduction to Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) and the use of readily-available, easily-accessed resources to security companies, private individuals and other agencies.
  • 7th August 2023

Introduction to OSINT

OSINT stands for Open Source Intelligence. This is the process of collecting, analysing, and utilising information that can easily be obtained from publicly-available sources in order to gain insights, identify trends, and make informed decisions. OSINT also heavily relies on data that is gathered from a wide range of sources, including (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Websites: Publicly accessible web pages, blogs, forums, news articles, and other online content.
  • Social Media: Information shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more.
  • Government Publications: Reports, documents, and data released by government agencies or public institutions.
  • Academic Research: Findings and data published in academic papers and journals.
  • Public Records: Information available in official records like court records, property records, business registrations, etc.
  • Media: News reports and articles from reputable media outlets.
  • Geospatial Data: Maps, satellite imagery, and geolocation data.
  • Online Forums and Discussion Boards: User-generated content from public forums and discussion platforms.
  • Dark Web Monitoring (in some cases): Monitoring publicly accessible parts of the dark web for information relevant to specific investigations.

Making Use of OSINT

OSINT is used in various fields and industries, including intelligence gathering, cybersecurity, law enforcement, corporate research, competitive intelligence, journalism, and academia. It also complements other intelligence disciplines and research methods, and it is often one of the initial steps utilised in the gathering of relevant information about a subject or specific situation.

The Importance of Verifying Information

It is also essential to conduct OSINT ethically and legally, respecting privacy and adhering to the terms and conditions that are set by the sources being accessed. OSINT practitioners must verify the information they have obtained from multiple sources to ensure it is collaborated, this is to ensure accuracy and avoid relying on unverified or biased data.

OSINT continues to evolve as technology advances, providing a powerful toolset for both individuals as well as organisations seeking valuable insights from publicly-available information.

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