Open Source Intelligence, or what is commonly referred to as “OSINT,” is information that is collected from publicly available sources. The use of OSINT has been a mainstay of the military and the world’s intelligence services for many, many years; but over time and with advancement of technology its popularity has grown within the private sector as well. With an estimated 80% of today’s information being stored digitally and in open sources, knowing exactly where to look and what methods to employ to exploit it, allows us the ability to secure valuable information about our targets where most can not.
Here are a few examples of OSINT sources, and the types of information that can be ascertained from each:
- Internet directories: personal information, locations, family members, interests, demographics, employment, contact information
- Company websites: personnel listings, duties, services, backgrounds, locations, contact information
- Government data: personal information, court activity, tax records, locations, budgets, demographics, hearing minutes, legislative debates, press conferences, speeches and contract awards
- News sources: topical information, event reports, personal history, obituaries, family members
- Social-networking sites: personal information, friends, family members,interests, photos, videos, blogs, activities
- User contributed content: interests, hobbies, associations, expertise, opinions
- Online reviews: interests, purchases, life-style information, activities
- Academic sites: education, business conferences, associations, academic papers, subject matter experts
Although OSINT is information that is freely available on the Internet, traditional link-crawling search engines such as Google and Yahoo do not typically access it. By utilizing OSINT research techniques, we are able to get pertinent information about our targets that can aid us in the investigative process.
For more information about Open Source Intelligence and how we utilize it to help us in the investigation process, please contact us using the information listed below.