What is OSINT

Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving world full of fascinating technology. As the threats posed by hackers and internal risks change, so must the tools we use to fight them. While OSINT isn’t technically new, it is becoming one of the most standard tools you must employ. Unfortunately, even if you know what OSINT is, many professionals don’t use it in the best way. If you’re unfamiliar with OSINT, or you could stand to learn more, this is the blog post for you. Today we’re going to cover this essential piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. We’ll explain what OSINT is and how you should use it.

What is OSINT?

The title of this article is a question you may have if you’re new to cybersecurity. After all, OSINT is one of the most widely used aspects of the field. OSINT stands for “Open Source Intelligence,” and American law has further definitions. These were established in 1992 as a part of the Intelligence Reorganization Act. Open-source intelligence is intelligence that is:

  • Sourced from public information
  • Collected, analyzed, and distributed in a timely, unbiased manner
  • Addresses specific concerns

The chief takeaway is the first point: Publicly sourced information. “Open source” refers to information that the public can freely access. Open-source software puts its entire codebase online for people to see, alter, or use as they see fit. OSINT works much the same way. One crucial point to remember is that open-source information is more than what you find on search engines. While the information you can pull from Google can indeed be a huge resource… Many people neglect other sources.

In fact, Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt remarks over 99% of the internet can’t be found with search engines. This “deep web” is information behind log-in pages, paywalls, and more. Search engines can’t index these pages. Even so, much of this information is still public.

How to Use OSINT

You might not be aware of it, but you use it every day. When you Google the meaning of a word or watch a tutorial on YouTube, that’s OSINT. This article, too, is a form of OSINT. However, OSINT has at least two major use cases in a more direct application.

1) Identifying External Threats

One of the best sources for learning about your threats is the internet. New vulnerabilities frequently make the news, and bad actors often boast about what they intend to do next. OSINT lets security professionals spend their resources in the most critical areas. As a result, OSINT compliments other cybersecurity resources and should be validated through other means.

2) Penetration Testing

Cybersecurity experts often learn of weaknesses in their networks through OSINT. Identifying these flaws early lets them fix them before hackers can exploit them. A penetration test often involves ethical hackers seeing what they can access. This can discover information leaks, unsecured ports, network devices, old software, and leaked assets like codebases.

Best OSINT Practices

Naturally, your cybersecurity team can’t sit at the monitor Googling things all day. The volume of information is huge – This is why you must go in with a specific goal in mind. You must also have tools and methods in mind. Are you using passive collection or active collection? Passive collection usually relies on Threat Intelligence Platforms, which assembles risks in a single feed. Active collection, meanwhile, actively seeks out pertinent information. The risk of information overload here is much smaller. Whatever method you choose, start with the end goal.

Arruda Group Can Help

Once you’ve identified your end goal, you may still need help setting up the tools and methodology. Arruda Group can help your company prepare to use OSINT to the fullest. By establishing practices early on, you can defend yourself and your company from threats years in advance. Contact us to start protecting yourself today. You can learn more about cybersecurity and threats at the Arruda Group website.