Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the process of getting information from sources that have been published or are otherwise open to the public. OSINT operations are done by IT security professionals, malicious hackers, and state-sanctioned intelligence operatives. They use advanced techniques to search through the huge amount of visible data to find the needles they need to reach their goals and learn information that many people don’t know is public. In this case, “open source” doesn’t mean “open source software,” even though many OSINT tools are open source. Instead, it means that the data being analyzed is public.
In many ways, OSINT is the opposite of operational security (OPSEC). OPSEC is the security process that organisations use to protect public information about themselves that could hurt them if it was properly analyzed. To improve operational security, IT security departments are being asked to do more and more OSINT operations in their own organisations.
What is the significance of OSINT?
OSINT is critical for staying on top of the information turmoil. IT must perform three critical responsibilities within OSINT, and a variety of OSINT solutions have been developed to assist in meeting those demands. Most tools perform all three jobs, though many excel in one.
Top OSINT tools
Using the correct OSINT technology for your firm can boost cybersecurity by assisting in the discovery of information about your company, workers, IT assets, and other confidential or sensitive data that an attacker could exploit. Discovering that information upfront and then hiding or eliminating it could reduce everything from phishing to denial-of-service attacks.
The following are some of the most popular OSINT tools, what areas they specialize in, why they are unique and different from one another, and what specific value they may be able to contribute to an organisation’s cybersecurity efforts.
Maltego specializes in uncovering relationships among people, organisations, domains, and publicly accessible information on the internet. It’s also known for taking the sometimes enormous amount of discovered information and plotting it all out in easy-to-read charts and graphs. The graphs do a good job of taking raw intelligence and making it actionable, and each graph can have up to 10,000 data points.
The Maltego program is beneficial to organisations as it works by automating the searching of different public data sources, so they can click on one button and execute multiple queries.
Mitaka is beneficial for organisations since it allows them to search over a dozen search engines for IP addresses, domains, URLs, hashes, ASNs, Bitcoin wallet addresses, and other indications of compromise (IOCs) using only a web browser, as it is available as a Chrome extension and Firefox add-on.
Spiderfoot is a free OSINT espionage program that collects and analyses IP addresses, CIDR ranges, domains and subdomains, ASNs, email addresses, phone numbers, names and usernames, BTC addresses, and other data.
Spiderfoot is beneficial to organisations since it includes both a command-line interface and an embedded web server for offering an intuitive web-based GUI. Furthermore, the application has over 200 modules, making it excellent for red teaming reconnaissance operations, such as learning more about your target or identifying what your organisation may be unwittingly disclosed on the internet.
Spyse bills itself as the “largest comprehensive internet assets registry” for cybersecurity specialists. Spyse collects publicly available data about websites, their owners, connected servers, and IoT devices and is used by projects such as OWASP, IntelligenceX, and the aforementioned Spiderfoot. The Spyse engine then analyses this data to identify any security concerns and relationships between these various entities.
This tool is beneficial to organisations as it is handy in pinpointing security risks for their patch and looks forward to fixing them.
BuiltWith, as the name suggests, helps businesses discover what famous websites are built with. Various tech stacks and platforms power different sites. BuiltWith, for example, can determine whether a website is utilising WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal as its CMS and provide additional information.
BuiltWith is beneficial for organisations since it can be paired with website security scanners like WPScan, which integrate with the WordPress Vulnerability Database API to detect common security flaws on a website.
6. Intelligence X
Intelligence X is a groundbreaking archive and search engine.
This program is beneficial to businesses because it maintains not only old versions of web pages but also complete leaked data sets that would otherwise be erased from the web owing to unpleasant content or legal reasons. Intelligence X makes no distinctions when it comes to maintaining data sets, no matter how contentious.
While frequent visitors to the dark web may be aware of where to seek what, DarkSearch.io can be an excellent beginning point for people who are new to the dark web. DarkSearch, like Ahmia, is a free dark web search engine with a free API for doing automated searches.
One advantage of DarkSearch.io is that organisations do not have to go to the .onion versions or utilise Tor to access either of these search engines. They can search the dark web by simply visiting darksearch.io with a standard web browser.
This tool is beneficial for organisations since it automates time-consuming OSINT tasks such as cutting and pasting. Recon-ng does not claim that its tool can perform all OSINT gathering, but it can be used to automate most of the most common types of harvesting, freeing up time for the tasks that must still be done manually.
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