What Is Open-Source Intelligence?
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the practice of collecting information from published or publicly available sources. OSINT operations employ advanced techniques to comb through large databases to find the information needed to achieve a goal. Open source refers to the public […]
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the practice of collecting information from published or publicly available sources. OSINT operations employ advanced techniques to comb through large databases to find the information needed to achieve a goal. Open source refers to the public nature of the available sources being analyzed.
OSINT is the twin of operational security (OPSEC), a security process that organizations use to protect public business data that could reveal damaging insights in the hands of hackers. IT departments are integrating OSINT operations to solidify operational security.
How is open source intelligence used?
There are two common use cases for open source intelligence in cybersecurity:
1. Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing: security professionals and intelligence analysts use OSINT to identify weaknesses that could be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Common weaknesses include the accidental leaking of sensitive information on social media, open ports or unsecured internet-connected devices, unpatched software, and leaked or exposed assets.
2. Identifying External Threats: the internet can reveal a lot of insights into an organization’s pressing threats. Cybersecurity professionals can use open-source intelligence to identify vulnerabilities that are actively being exploited and intercept chatter about upcoming cyber attacks. Intelligence analysts work to identify and match data points to validate a potential cyber threat before taking action. OSINT is typically used in conjunction with other intelligence subtypes, such as internal telemetry, closed dark web communities, and external intelligence-sharing communities. Analysts have several tools at their disposal to help perform these functions.
The right OSINT tools can improve cybersecurity by discovering confidential and sensitive information about your company, employees, and IT assets that could be exploited by a hacker. Analysts can act to conceal or remove this sensitive information to prevent phishing and other cyber attacks. Some of the best OSINT tools that can aid your cybersecurity efforts are Maltego, Shodan, Recon-ng, SpiderFoot, and Babel X.
OSINT investigators can glean valuable information from public sources on the web to identify potential cybersecurity threats. Using the right tool helps cyber defenders collect and analyze data from open sources such as social networks, blogs, chatrooms, and the dark web. LifeRaft offers business users a security intelligence platform that helps identify threatening posts on open sources and sends alerts in real-time so cybersecurity teams can respond proactively. The platform uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide location services, link analysis, social re-enactment, and intelligent data mining.
Why is open-source intelligence important?
OSINT is vital for making sense of data from the chaos of public information. OSINT is important for three main tasks:
- Discovering public-facing assets: OSINT helps IT teams discover public-facing assets that contain public information that could contribute to a cyber attack.
- Discover relevant information outside of the organization: OSINT tools glean information from open sources such as social media posts and IP address location for sensitive information about the organization.
- Collate discovered information into an actionable form: OSINT helps organize public information into useful, actionable intelligence. Performing an OSINT scan can reveal hundreds of thousands of results that are easy to analyze when properly pieced together.
Businesses that are responsible for sensitive customer information can use OSINT to prevent a data breach that would compromise personal information. A brand such as Soma strives to deliver exceptional customer service from the time customers browse their women’s clothing to receiving a shipment at home. Their underwear is designed for everyday wear comfort and practicality and is constructed from microfiber fabric with invisible panty lines. Their collection of women’s underwear includes briefs, thongs, women’s boxers, high-waist cuts, and lace panties with matching bralettes. The women’s intimates retailer offers free shipping, curbside pickup, and additional discounts at checkout when you enter your email address. Staying on top of cybersecurity with OSINT is a smart way for businesses to keep themselves, their customers, and their brand protected.
Open-source intelligence is valuable for all cybersecurity disciplines but it requires the right combination of tools and techniques for your organization’s needs. The success of any OSINT initiative relies on a clear strategy with defined goals and set objectives.