Crucially, open source information is not limited to what you can find using the major search engines. Web pages and other resources that can be found using Google certainly constitute massive sources of open source information, but they are far from the only sources.
Security professionals use open source intelligence to identify potential weaknesses in friendly networks so that they can be remediated before they are exploited by threat actors. Commonly found weaknesses include:
Threat actors use open source intelligence tools and techniques to identify potential targets and exploit weaknesses in target networks. Once a vulnerability is identified, it is often an extremely quick and simple process to exploit it and achieve a variety of malicious objectives.
Second, you must identify a set of tools and techniques for collecting and processing open source information. Once again, the volume of information available is much too great for manual processes to be even slightly effective.
Of course, the examples given here are just a tiny fraction of what is possible using open source intelligence tools. There are a huge number of free and premium tools that can be used to find and analyze open source information, with common functionality including:
Whatever your goals, open source intelligence can be tremendously valuable for all security disciplines. Ultimately, though, finding the right combination of tools and techniques for your specific needs will take time, as well as a degree of trial and error. The tools and techniques you need to identify insecure assets are not the same as those that would help you follow up on a threat alert or connect data points across a variety of sources.
Michael Bazzell has been a full time law enforcement officer for over 15 years. He is currently assigned to the FBI's Cyber Task Force where he focuses on open source intelligence (OSINT) collection and analysis. He has trained thousands of individuals employed by state and federal agencies, as well as the private sector, in the use of his OSINT techniques. His online video training at IntelTechniques.com is used by dozens of companies every day to stay on top of the latest methods of information discovery and documentation. He has created several college courses including Ethical Hacking and Computer Forensics. He is also the author of Hiding from the Internet and Personal Digital Security. His books are often used as training manuals for intelligence gathering and securing personal information.
Open source intelligence analysts use specialized methods to explore the diverse landscape of open source intelligence and pinpoint any data that meets their objectives. OSINT analysts regularly discover information that is not broadly known to be accessible to the public.
Notably, the broadening distribution of media publications, the invention of the television, and the advent of the Internet have all enhanced and enriched the intelligence community's access to open sources.
While even a simple internet search can reveal an organization's vulnerabilities, security teams also look into deeper layers of the Internet to identify external threats. For example, open source intelligence analysts access the deep and dark web to gather further intelligence, like data leaks.
theHarvester is a penetration testing tool used to gather information about emails, subdomains, hosts, employee names, open ports, and banners from different public sources like search engines, PGP key servers, and SHODAN computer database.
The US Code defines the legal use of open source intelligence as \"... intelligence that is produced from publicly available information and is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement.\"
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the collection and analysis of data gathered from open sources (covert and publicly available sources) to produce actionable intelligence. OSINT is primarily used in national security, law enforcement, and business intelligence functions and is of value to analysts who use non-sensitive intelligence in answering classified, unclassified, or proprietary intelligence requirements across the previous intelligence disciplines.
Former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis Mark M. Lowenthal defines OSINT as any and all information that can be derived from overt collection: all types of media, government reports and other documents, scientific research and reports, commercial vendors of information, the Internet, and so on. The main qualifiers to open-source information are that it does not require any type of clandestine collection techniques to obtain it and that it must be obtained through means that entirely meet the copyright and commercial requirements of the vendors where applicable.\"
In July 2004, following the September 11 attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of an open-source intelligence agency. In March 2005, the Iraq Intelligence Commission recommended the creation of an open-source directorate at the CIA.
In December 2005, the Director of National Intelligence appointed Eliot A. Jardines as the Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source to serve as the Intelligence Community's senior intelligence officer for open source and to provide strategy, guidance and oversight for the National Open Source Enterprise. Mr. Jardines has established the National Open Source Enterprise and authored intelligence community directive 301. In 2008, Mr. Jardines returned to the private sector and was succeeded by Dan Butler who is ADDNI/OS and previously Mr. Jardines' Senior Advisor for Policy.
The web browser is a powerful OSINT tool that provides access to numerous websites and both open source and proprietary software tools that are either purpose-built for open source information collection or which can be exploited for the purposes of either gathering of open source information or to facilitate analysis and validation to provide intelligence. A cottage industry of both for-profit and not-for-profit investigative and educational groups such as Bellingcat, IntelTechniques SANS and others offer indices, books, podcasts and video training materials on OSINT tools and techniques. Books such as Michael Bazzell's Open Source Intelligence Techniques serve as indices to resources across multiple domains but according the author, due to the rapidly changing information landscape, some tools and techniques change or become obsolete frequently, hence it is imperative for OSINT researchers to study, train and survey the landscape of source material regularly. A guide by Ryan Fedasiuk, an analyst at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, lists six tools open-source analysts can use to stay safe and utlize operational security (OPSEC) when conducting online investigations. These include VPNs, cached webpages, digital archive services, URL and file scanners, browser sandbox applications, and antivirus software.
A main hindrance to practical OSINT is the volume of information it has to deal with (\"information explosion\"). The amount of data being distributed increases at a rate that it becomes difficult to evaluate sources in intelligence analysis. To a small degree the work has sometimes been done by amateur crowd-sourcing.
The OSINT Foundation is a professional association for OSINT practitioners in the United States Intelligence Community. It is open to U.S. Citizens and seeks to raise the prominence of the open-source intelligence discipline.
Intelligence Fusion is a leader in open source threat intelligence solutions and has trained hundreds of analysts across the globe in OSINT collection. Based on years of experience and success, we've collated the ultimate list of open source intelligence tools and techniques for intelligence and security professionals.
For even more OSINT tools and techniques, join our free open source intelligence community on Discord, where OSINT enthusiasts and security professionals regularly share breaking news, interesting findings and the latest OSINT resources.
Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service that can be used as an open source intelligence tool. It will send emails to you when it finds new results matching your specified search term.
There are numerous open-source intelligence platforms that you can access for free online. The aim of Intelligence Fusion is to collate all of this information, and provide a single point of reference for users rather than working across multiple tools and platforms.
The Investigative Database allows open source analysts to browse their global index of public registries for companies, land registries and courts as well as search millions of documents and datasets, from public sources, leaks and investigations.
Monitor webpage or feed for changes asn an open source intelligence tool. Distill runs in your browser to check monitored pages for changes and can send you instant alerts via SMS or email as soon as a change is detected.
Intelligence Fusion uses these sources, teamed with military-grade processes and structure to enable a new way of thinking, encouraging analysts to adapt alternative mindsets to better discover, evaluate and understand threats of every kind. As part of our open source intelligence course, we provide extensive training on the most effective way to use these OSINT tools as well as an impressive and diverse range of additional modules, all built using real-life experiences from our ex-military and intelligence expert team.
For security teams across the globe, there is an additional challenge of being able to contextualise all of the information that can be accessed from such open source intelligence tools in order to better interpret information, provide real insight into threats and act quickly in response. 59ce067264