Introduction

Have you ever thought that the knowledge you gain about celebrities, famous personalities, or any multinational corporation available freely can be of immense relevance to target a system or an image? In this column, we will analyze the importance, disadvantages, and OSINT tools that play a vital role in the regulation of such information. 

  1. What is OSINT? OSINT Meaning
  2. History of OSINT
  3. Importance of OSINT. What is OSINT Utilized for?
  4. Best OSINT Tools

1. What is OSINT? OSINT Meaning 

Open Source Intelligence’ which is the OSINT full form, refers to the information collected concerning an individual or any organization through legitimate means from resources that are freely obtainable. Information obtained from the internet is not the only source that falls under this head, it includes any information gathered from annual reports, public libraries, columns in the newspaper, or any other public sources. 

2. History of OSINT

Traces of Open Source Intelligence can be found in 1883, Upstate New York. It is in this era when the predominant personality was born, the son of devout Irish immigrants, William Donovan who grew up in a middle-class family. He was excelling in the school academics. 

After Donovan fought World War I, He had made a successful career as an International Lawyer. However, he missed out on the opportunity of acquiring the position of Attorney General in 1925. 

The connection of Donovan’s with the F. D. R  led to the foundation stone of the creation of an intelligence agency in the United States. It was then that the world of intelligence and snooping got some recognition in the USA. Donovan influenced the F. D. R to authenticate its unofficial work for the US Government. In 1941, F. D. R created the post ‘Coordinator of Information’. Donovan’s department was given the official recognition and was named as ‘Office of Strategic Services’ -which was the precursor to C. I. A., after the incident of Pearl Harbour Attack took place. 

Even the OSS’ Research and Analysis Branch in the UK, collected dozens of bunch of newspapers, to procure photos, articles, that would give them vital intelligence about the rival. 

In recent years many countries have taken the notice of OSINT. A powerful example of this came recently when a social media user posted a selfie that revealed the roof structure of the State Bomb Factory, which was destroyed by the US military in merely 23 hours. 

The market of Open Source intelligence has sprung up as you will find numerous OSINT firms have started to provide expertise to private and public sector clients in this field. 

3. Importance of OSINT. What is OSINT Utilized for?  

Information in the form of images, webinars, videos, speeches, and many others are also included in this list. 

When any crucial details of any corporation or individual are available without any restriction, then the intruder can easily make the SWOT analysis of such organizations or personalities and can comfortably penetrate the system by exploiting the vulnerabilities converting them into threats. The attackers can smoothly create a thread blueprint and plan accordingly. 

Attack over military security is a targeted cyber-attacks where the attackers acquire the information without the knowledge of the target that had begun with reconnaissance. 

Collection of OSINT on your own can assist you to a great extent to analyze the information open freely to the potential attackers without any financial efforts. The moment you get a hold over the type of information that can be accumulated from public sources, you can formulate the security policy to make the system more concrete against hackers and attackers. 

4. Best OSINT Tools

1. Maltego: 

It is developed by Paterva. It is utilized by security professionals and forensic investigators. Maltego is specialized in discovering the unknown relationships among individuals, organizations, websites, and other sources. It has the capability of transforming the information into graphical charts that reduces the analyzing burden and helps to fasten the decision-making process. 

Maltego uses public interfaces to perform their search activities. Therefore, it is easily compatible with almost any source of information that possesses the public interface. As soon as the information is collected, Maltego establishes the connections that can unearth unauthorized relationships. It can work with Java, Windows, Mac, and Linux Operating System. 

2. The Harvester: 

It is one of the simplest OSINT search tool present on the list. It is an excellent tool for getting information related to emails and domains. It is specifically used to get the information that exists outside the company’s network interface. 

The Harvester uses popular search engines like Google and Bing. It can find many related aspects of internal networks. However, most of its tools are focused on networks outside the organization. It can get access to many public sources without any specific efforts. 

3. Shodan: 

It is a search engine that is dedicated to finding intelligence about the devices. It will show the result that is of more significance to the security professional. It is beneficial since it highlights the information about open ports and vulnerabilities. 

This search engine is capable of inspecting the operational technology. Shodan can also be used to search for databases to find if any information is available publicly through paths different from the main interface. 

It is easy to purchase the license of Shodan for scanning up to 5120 IP addresses per month.  

4. Metagoofil: 

Metagoofil is programmed by Christan Martorella. It is a command-line tool that assists in gathering the metadata from public documents. This tool helps to investigate any document which can be identified through public networks. 

It provides the paths of how to get documents to procure the names of the servers and much other information. The details discovered my the Metagoofil can be used for phishing attacks or brute-force passwords. 

5. Search code: 

When you try to search for code on Google, you will get baffled. Therefore, it is easy to search for text rather than code search. Search code has a unique feature where when you search for a line for a code and you will find the results that are present in websites such as GitHub. 

Search code draws a line between the OSINT tool and a search engine designed to find the code. However, it is classified as an OSINT tool because it can discover the sensitive information that is covered inside the code. It assists in the search of functions, methods, security flaws and anything that can be associated with the code.  

6. Recon-ng: 

Many time-consuming activities are carried out efficiently on Recon-ng. It consists of a modular framework that has many build-up functionalities. Many tasks such as output standardization, database interaction, API keys management, and others are part of its interface. 

You can use diverse modules to extract information as per requirement. 

7. Check Usernames: 

Social networking sites and media hold loads of information, but to search for a particular user ID can be a very tedious job. Check Usernames can make your job easy effortlessly. It will search for username on more than 150 websites with ease. 

8. Google Dorks: 

Google is one of the prominent search engines and no one can beat it. The result can be as per the relevance of the user varying from the location, preferences, etc. Google Dorks is an online OSINT Tool, that can assist the user to get the relevant information more efficiently. 

When a user wants to search for a word username and requires the results only in PDF files and not any website links, then on Google as type ‘Filetype: and the name of the particular information in a pdf file’. You can also search for a specific URL, Title, Extension, or text by initially writing Inurl, Intitle, Ext, and Intext. 

Conclusion

The future of OSINT has many elements to reveal. As new technologies emerge, new OSINT tools and techniques will emerge and they will tend to change the utilization of OSINT. It is a field that grabs the attention of government, companies, and many others. It will increase its position in the security market since each country wants to stay ahead of the other. As the speed, technological options, tools, and many other factors are enhancing, the usability of the OSINT is also increasing. Government agencies are innovating in various ways to understand the significance of open data availability. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.

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