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Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Page 1 – What is OSINT?

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a type of intelligence gathering that involves relying on open sources to gather, analyze, and process information. This type of intelligence gathering and analysis is done by private citizens, government, and corporations for different reasons. OSINT combines different practices, such as public domain data collection, analyses of free public information sources and internet searches, to build a larger picture of a person, situation, or event.

OSINT has been used to gather various types of data such as people’s personal and travel histories, activities, or opinions. The goal of OSINT is to gain insights without needing to access confidential or classified sources of information. By using open sources, analysts can gain insight into a situation or person without having to infiltrate closed systems or networks.

Page 2 – Benefits of OSINT

Due to its open source nature, OSINT is an extremely valuable tool for anyone using it responsibly. OSINT allows us to quickly gain information about the environment, such as other people’s opinions, giving us more resources to draw data from and build more complete pictures of a situation, person, or event. This type of intelligence gathering allows us to connect the dots between different, often disparate pieces of information to gain a fuller picture of a situation.

At a governmental level, it can be used for uncovering terrorist plots or identifying threats to a country's security. It can also be used by law enforcement in criminal investigations. Corporations and other businesses use OSINT to uncover potential risks to their companies, such as competitors or customers, and to assess the market in which they are operating. Private citizens may use OSINT to evaluate job opportunities or to gain information on people they want to know more about.

Page 3 – Risks of OSINT

Though OSINT provides great benefits to any organization using it responsibly, its nature of gathering data from open sources allows malicious actors to take advantage of it to commit a variety of cyber crimes. In addition to using OSINT to infiltrate closed systems or networks, criminals can also utilize it to understand and target certain populations, such as vulnerable people, or to spread disinformation or fake news.

Computer criminals can also use OSINT to gain access to confidential information by tracking and collecting personal data from online sources such as blogs and social media sites. This information can then be combined with pre-existing personal data to create more accurate and detailed profiles of individuals, making them vulnerable to targeted attacks or scams.

Organizations and individuals should be aware of the risks associated with OSINT and take steps to ensure their data is not being accessed or used maliciously. Companies should also review their OSINT policies and practices regularly to ensure they are providing the proper protections and safeguards. For individuals, it is beneficial to monitor your online presence, such as posts on social media, to ensure you are protecting your online data from potential malicious actors.

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