Using Open-Source Intelligence in Today’s World
Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is information and data that can be accessed publicly or any information that is published, printed, or broadcast for public consumption. This can amount to meetings, message boards, virtual conferences, articles, letters or publicly accessible forums.
OSINT can be a treasure trove of information for those working to solve criminal cases online. Threat actors and criminals with easy access to the vast data sources available on the various levels of the web can plan and execute attacks against innocent civilians.
Who Uses OSINT?
Security agencies working to prevent the next crime or investigate in real-time to nullify an attack must use all available means to gather actionable intelligence.
Equally, law enforcement agencies, fraud and national security investigators, threat hinters, and cybersecurity analysts also utilize a huge OSINT tool portfolio to positively impact investigations on either surface, deep and dark webs.\
They are behind the drive to adopt intelligence-led approaches and solutions to deal with threats based on rapid identification of threat actors and illicit networks and utilize all capabilities to see the broader intelligence picture.
Challenges of OSINT
While OSINT can give analysts the edge, open-source data and information can overwhelm teams with large volumes of unstructured data that need to be combed, sifted, and sorted in priority.
Collecting and processing this data promptly can be tedious and tie up investigations for weeks and months.
Yet, large parts of investigations consist of collecting open-source intelligence from the dark web, which standard browsers cannot access. When collecting data from the dark web, investigators also do not want to be exposed to potential threats or being detected by threat actors.
To keep their digital footprints anonymous or secure, they will often turn to OSINT tools to meet these challenges.
OSINT tools and Their Benefits
An OSINT tool can be used in many ways, but the most popular is to research, monitor, and track threat actors before an attack.
Threat actors prefer to plan their crimes in relative obscurity or on the dark web, but OSINT can prevent threat actors from succeeding.
Analysts can either passively or actively utilize OSINT from a variety of feeds into a single accessible location. Harvesting of such intelligence can be assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and natural language processing (NPL) which automatically monitor and prioritize alerts.
These capabilities allow law enforcement and security agency analysts to harness and leverage the vast volumes of data and security intelligence they find in real-time.
A social network analysis of the OSINT gathered allows analysts to map and measure the relationships between the identified networks, which may be used to plan criminal or terrorist activity.
When choosing the right OSINT tools, it is essential to look at the various functionalities needed to get actionable insights for taking action. Crime investigators can use crime prediction software, social media investigation tools, and criminal investigation software to solve cases and prevent crimes.
Other features they could be looking for are dark web security monitoring, cybersecurity footprinting, or location-based intelligence capabilities that will help them get insight into the identities, movements, and intentions of threat actors.
All OSINT tools help investigators to analyze massive amounts of data to validate a threat before the action becomes real.