Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is vital to understand incident response in today’s cyber world. It is a combination of any proper threat intelligence operation, providing useful information about a particular threat or risk that you need to be aware of before attackers do.
This blog will take a detailed look at some open-source intelligence tools available in the cybersecurity industry and how you can apply them in your work.
What Is Open-Source Intelligence?
Open-source intelligence is data collected from published or other available sources. OSINT operations involve making use of advanced techniques to search a large volume of data to find information that can help achieve specific goals. Moreover, open-source intelligence also includes information that is available in different media types. People usually think of OSINT as being text-based; in fact, any information available in videos, images, webinars, and conferences also falls under it.
What Is OSINT Used For?
Attackers make use of OSINT to collect publicly available information on the target. They use this information to profile a potential victim and better understand their characteristics, thus allowing them to narrow down their search for potential vulnerabilities. Therefore, without even engaging with the target, an attacker can use the collected information for developing a plan of attack.
For a business, gathering OSINT is an excellent way to understand what information you are exposing to cyber attackers, thus allowing your cybersecurity team to develop strong defensive strategies.
What Are Open-Source Intelligence Tools?
Cybersecurity experts use open-source intelligence tools in the inspection phase of an incident response plan to gather information from hundreds of websites in minutes. OSINT tools use AI features to collect information from various public sources which can be used later.
With open-source intelligence tools, the investigation phases become streamlined. It is essential to know that OSINT tools effectively decrease the number of permutations and combinations concerning the data gathered from publicly available sources. OSINT is often used to discover cyberattacks such as phishing and ransomware.
7 Open-Source Intelligence Tools for Cyber Incident Response
Maltego is one of the most powerful OSINT frameworks used by security professionals and digital forensics investigators to collect useful information. Maltego can quickly gather information from various public sources, using various transforms to create graphical results. These transforms are in-built and customizable. Maltego’s investigator helps in gathering specific information such as social networking activity, websites, and email addresses associated with the user account.
Shodan is an acronym for Sentient Hyper Optimized Data Access Network. Like Google, the Shodan tool is a search engine for cyberattackers. Shodan doesn’t show results like regular search engines; it presents results that only cybersecurity experts understand. Shodan is a vital tool for an incident response plan as it allows cybersecurity experts to see all devices connected to a particular network, helping them to detect and test them for vulnerability purposes.
Metagoofil is also a handy tool for any incident response procedure. It is an excellent gathering tool used to extract metadata from the target. It is compatible with lots of file types such as pdf, doc, and ppt. This open-source intelligence tool can also be used to mine MAC addresses from these file types. Metagoofil is also used by attackers to get a fair idea of the type of operating system and network that was used.
The Harvester is an OSINT tool used to get email and domain-related information. It is used to gather information and is pre-bundled in Kali.
Recon-ng is an important open-source intelligence tool to gather information from the target. It is also pre-bundled in Kali. Recon-ng has different modules in its framework to extract information. All you need to do is include your preferred domains in its workspace and use the modules.
Social Engineer Toolkit is an OSINT tool used for online social engineering attacks. This OSINT tool can also be used to perform various cyberattacks such as website attack vectors and spear phishing. Social-Engineer Toolkit’s power lies in its modular approach — those who have used Metasploit will know how powerful modular tools are. Social-Engineer Toolkit can execute client-side attacks. You can also enter an executable and send it to the preferred target.
Recorded Future is an open-source tool powered by AI used to trend predictions and massive data analysis. It uses AI algorithms to make future predictions.
Is OSINT Illegal?
First and foremost, open-source intelligence is a method of collecting data from publicly available resources. While malicious hackers do make use of open-source intelligence tools and techniques to collect data for launching an illegal attack, these tools and techniques are not illegal in themselves. They have been specifically designed to help people collect data that is already published and available to the general public. Therefore, OSINT is not illegal.
Boost Your Incident Response Skills with ECIH Certification
Now that you’re up to speed on OSINT and how it can help protect organizations, it’s time to get hands-on with the tools mentioned above. Get certified with EC-Council’s Certified Incident handler (ECIH) program, which has been designed by incident handling experts and response practitioners worldwide. As a specialist-level incident response training program, it imparts the job-ready knowledge and skills that are required to handle cybersecurity incidents.