The World Wide Web is now home to a sea of vast publicly available information. In the right hands, this information can prove to be quite valuable. The scope of the use of this information is endless. Cybersecurity agencies are using this publicly available information to predict and prevent cyber-attacks. Local law enforcement officials can strategically use this open-source information to further their investigations for different crimes. The point is the information is endless with digital footprints everywhere. This is a new defining era in the field of modern investigation.
That is when OSINT investigation comes into play. If you are not too this term, don’t worry. We’ll tell you what OSINT is and how you can make use of it when conducting investigations.
What is OSINT Investigation?
OSINT stands for Open Source Intelligence. It is the information collected from public sources like the internet. Although this term is generally used for public online data, the term can also be used for any publicly available source.
The main idea behind OSINT is to collect data and convert it to actionable Intel. You need to have an end goal, once you establish it, you’d then search for publicly available data related to your operation in new york. OSINT investigation is like any other investigation but since the investigation happens in an online environment (most of the time), even you can go about using it once you its basics.
Law Enforcement Authorities specifically need to learn and integrate the use of online OSINT investigation tools and techniques. And since online information is increasing at an enormous rate, there is a huge need to learn skills that would help investigators surf through, authenticate and preserve information relevant to a case.
Examples of OSINT Investigation
OSINT investigation might sound confusing at first, but it is way simpler than you’d think. We generally associate OSINT with cybersecurity and stuff like that, but here is what OSINT looks like at the most basic level
- Searching for something on search engines
- Researching forums like Quora to learning to fix a problem
- Watching tutorials on YouTube
These are all examples of OSINT in action. Sounds simple enough, right? You are already using OSINT in your life. Now, when we talk about cybercity, the OSINT for that is a bit advanced form of the basic structure that we just talked about here.
How to use OSINT Investigation?
You need to answer a few questions before you get into OSINT. You need to know what your end goal is, what is your target and what medium are you going to use for the research. Once you have answered these questions, you can base your OSINT strategy on that information.
Here is what OSINT looks like at the corporate level
- Collecting the complete information about employees of a company (Names, Contact, Address, Job roles etc.)
- Monitor Search Engine information from Google, Yahoo, etc.
- Identify and Analyze the Social Media platforms used by the target
- Accessing Old Cached data
- Retrieving a user’s location via Google Maps
These are just some of the ways you’d go about conducting an OSINT investigation.
There are 2 primary techniques that are used for OSINT investigation. Let’s see what these techniques entail
Active OSINT: In an Active OSINT investigation, the investigator directly contacts the target. It gives you the most reliable results with a higher risk of detection.
Passive OSINT: In this type of OSINT investigation, the investigator searches indirect sources to acquire information. This is a lot more difficult with a higher risk of false results. Although there are no detection risks associated with it.
OSINT Investigation Risks
The OSINT investigation is just like any other investigation, we’ve already established that. So just like a standard investigation, you want to make sure that you don’t get detected because if your target gets spooked, they’d know something is fishy and they’d try to run away. And once your target knows you are onto them, they would change their digital footprint i.e. social presence, and shut down their social media activity. Which would make things a whole lot harder for you.
OSINT is a cybersecurity essential that every company needs to invest in. It enhances the effectiveness of cybersecurity investigation and would help stop things from getting worse. Use OSINT to take your cyber investigation skills to a whole new level.