OSINT: All You Need to Know

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Information is power in today’s world. However, this information is easily accessible to cybercriminals as they devise several ways to perpetrate an attack. Social networking sites are termed as the biggest threat, but we do not realize that businesses are also equally contributing to data leaks. Having knowledge of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is important to understand incident response in today’s cyber world.

Knowing the various OSINT techniques will help you and your organization understand the accessibility of sensitive information, thereby allowing you to prevent breaches by educating others and by identifying vulnerabilities.

What Is OSINT?

OSINT is the short form for Open-Source Intelligence, one of the key aspects for understanding cybersecurity in today’s internet-savvy world. OSINT is the practice of collecting information from published sources or publicly available sources. It employs advanced techniques for churning out hidden data from a huge chunk of information. Both IT security pros and malicious hackers use OSINT techniques to source information, with the IT departments of organizations beefing up operational security by adopting OSINT techniques.

Why Is OSINT Important?

OSINT is extremely vital in every organization to keep a tab on the information that is getting churned up every minute on the network. The three most crucial functions that the IT team must perform within the OSINT framework are:

  • Public-facing assets: They help IT teams to detect public assets, generating information which could lead to a potential attack. Their main goal is to record the information which is accessible publicly without the need of hacking methods.
  • Information from outside the organization: The OSINT tools also help in locating any information which comes from outside of an organization. Companies who make a lot of acquisitions and merge their assets benefit a lot from this function. Due to the rapid advancement of social media, it is always a good idea to look for loopholes outside the organizational boundaries as well.
  • Putting data together: An OSINT scan on a large organization produces a barrage of data which can be very difficult to collate as it includes internal and external assets. OSINT helps in collating this data and determining the most serious threats that need to be addressed on priority.

What Is OSINT Used For?

OSINT is used in the following ways for cybersecurity:

  • Ethical hacking and penetration testing: OSINT is used by security professionals to identify potential weaknesses and remediate an attack. The most common weaknesses are accidental leaks of sensitive information, unsecured internet-connected devices, open ports, unpatched software, and exposed assets.
  • Identification of external threats: Open-source intelligence helps security professionals to identify the most dangerous external threats and address them immediately.

What Is the OSINT Framework?

As the name suggests, the OSINT framework is a cybersecurity framework with a collection of OSINT tools which can make the task of data collection very easy. Security researchers and penetration testers use this tool for digital footprinting, OSINT research, intelligence gathering, and reconnaissance. The OSINT framework provides an easy web-based interface through which you can browse different OSINT tools.

What Are the Different OSINT Techniques?

OSINT techniques are tools which assist and support intelligence analysts. The most common sources are media, public, government data, etc. Every sector requires the OSINT software to monitor and leverage the easily accessible information. The most common applications of OSINT are:

  • Asset protection: To identify dangerous phenomena that may require tactical action in real time, multinational companies need to strengthen corporate security activities and identify potentially harmful patterns and phenomena that may require strategic action to protect the organization. A huge amount of data generated by multiple sources is processed by OSINT techniques based on semantic technology.
  • Important business planning: CEOs of important companies across the world spend a lot of time in business meetings. Knowing all about the people they meet will allow them to develop good interpersonal and professional relationships more effectively and productively. Easily available information about other companies through open sources helps them to conduct these meetings in a well-structured manner.
  • Customer surveys: To better understand the needs of consumers and developments in the industry, businesses should incorporate customer input, as well as business insight and signals from external sources. Innovative OSINT approaches can obtain both qualitative and quantitative data on the needs and problems shared by clients and assess their relative satisfaction level.

What Are the Various OSINT Tools?

OSINT tools use AI functionality to gather different information about all relevant data from public sources which can be used later. The investigation stage becomes simplified with OSINT software. It is necessary to understand that OSINT tools effectively reduce the number of permutations and combinations of data obtained from publicly accessible sources.

The 7 most common OSINT tools are listed below.

  1. Maltego: Maltego is one of the most potent OSINT systems used to gather valuable information by security professionals and digital forensics investigators. Using different transformations to produce graphical results, Maltego can easily collect information from various public sources.
  2. Shodan: Shodan is the short form of Sentient Hyper Optimized Data Access Network. The Shodan tool is like Google, the search engine for cyber attackers. Shodan does not show results like normal search engines; it shows results that are only understood by cybersecurity experts. Shodan is an important instrument for an incident response plan.
  3. Metagoofil: This is a useful tool to extract metadata from the target. Metagoofil is compatible with pdf, doc, and ppt. It also gives an idea of the operating system and network used by attackers.
  4. Harvester: It is a tool which helps derive the email and domain-related information.
  5. Recon-ng: This OSINT tool helps get information about the target. Add the preferred domains in the workspace and use the modules to get all the information.
  6. Social Engineer Toolkit: This is the best tool for an online social engineering attack. It is also used to execute a client-side attack.
  7. Recorded Future: This tool is powered by AI to trend predictions and massive data analysis. The future predictions are made with the help of AI algorithms.

With the rapid progression of technology and internet-based communications, OSINT has become very important for every organization, and having the knowledge of OSINT is vital to drive intelligent solutions such as incident handling. EC-Council is a well-known training and certification organization that concentrates on the arenas of anti-hacking, incident response, and penetration testing.

If this is your calling, then enroll for the ECIH certification program today and take your career to new heights!


Is OSINT illegal?
Open-Source Intelligence is an overt technique of collecting data. An overt technique can be described as a way of collecting data that is openly or publicly accessible. As the information is openly accessible, it is not considered illegal.
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