Even a basic Google search for "what is OSINT" yields a number of search results. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is an ever-evolving field of work, so it’s essential to keep up-to-date with new techniques and tools.
If you are new to OSINT, you may have questions about what it is, who uses it, and how you can learn more about it.
OSINT is intelligence produced by collecting, evaluating, and analyzing publicly available information with the purpose of answering a specific intelligence question. Read this previous blog post titled “What is OSINT?” to learn the basics of OSINT.
When someone is interested in learning about OSINT, they typically pose these general questions: how to acquire knowledge about OSINT, how to remain current with emerging tools and techniques, and lastly, how to secure a job in the OSINT field.
It may feel like a daunting task to enter the world of OSINT, but this blog post will show you various methods to find OSINT resources and communities. It will also help you figure out how to practice some techniques, build your skillset, and continue to learn. It even talks about how you can get a job in OSINT.
Recommended Resources for Learning
- Each Monday, Sector035 publishes the Week in OSINT, which is a curated list of OSINT websites and tools that are helpful for anyone conducting internet research. Remember that when you see tools posted, the best way to understand how a tool works is to test it and explore it yourself. You can assess of whether the tool is helpful for your OSINT work, or if you don’t currently work in the field, think of how an OSINT person could apply it.
- Another well-known OSINT practitioner is Lorand Bodo, who sends out a weekly list of posts relating to OSINT, terrorism, and extremism. Sign up to receive weekly updates!
- Start Me pages are personalized dashboards where users can organize their favourite websites and resources. Start.me pages have been commonly used to bookmark OSINT tools in the past couple of years.
Popular Start.me pages in OSINT:
-The Ultimate OSINT Collection
-Nixintel's OSINT Resource List
-OSINT Resources in Canada
If you want to discover other OSINT Start.me pages, use the Google Dork "site:" in Google. Searching for the terms OSINT or SOCMINT (social media intelligence) will help find other Start.me pages that may be useful.
Use the search operator site in Google as follows:
Alternatively, you can use the search operator inurl in Google as follows:
- YouTube can be a great resource to learn about OSINT resources and techniques for free. If you are a visual learner, Benjamin Strick has an excellent channel that explains OSINT techniques. The OSINT Curious channel has quick ten-minute videos to learn OSINT tips.
This Introduction to OSINT video on the OSINT Curious YouTube channel is also an excellent resource. Although this video was recorded in 2020, there are still many valuable tips that are relevant today.
- Read blog posts on OSINT Curious and then try to apply some of the techniques mentioned in the articles. If you need help locating the articles, use the site search operator and keyword search to find topic-specific content.
If you are looking for Facebook blog posts on the site, you can Google the following:
Engage with the OSINT Community
- Join the SANS OSINT Community on LinkedIn. Described “as a place for people who are OSINTers, looking to become an OSINTer, and who are members of the global OSINT community!"
- Join the Kase Scenarios Discord and interact with numerous OSINT enthusiasts. Discord is a social platform for instant messaging. Users can engage in voice and video calls, exchange text messages, and share media and files, privately or within collective groups referred to as "servers." Learn about OSINT from the various channels in this Discord group.
- Find an OSINT community on Reddit. There are over 78,000 members in this community. People who want to learn more about OSINT and have questions will regularly post in this subreddit.
- Practice using search engines to find information about yourself to see what your online footprint looks like. I’d recommend starting with your name and other details related to you, such as your location, i.e., “Ritu Gill” Vancouver.
- Trace Labs is a non-profit organization that utilizes open-source intelligence and crowdsourcing techniques to assist in locating missing persons. The events are known as Capture The Flag (CTF) contests, where participants use their OSINT skills to find information about real missing people. Trace Labs will use the information located to collaborate with Law Enforcement agencies to help with their investigations.
Other OSINT challenges include Quiz time, where daily quizzes are posted on Twitter.
- Stop Child Abuse - Trace an Object is an initiative by Europol to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation. This initiative seeks the public's assistance in identifying objects or backgrounds featured in child exploitation material. The concept is based on the idea that seemingly innocuous objects or details visible in images of child abuse may hold clues about the location of the abuse or the identity of the victims and offenders. The main objective is to determine where these objects come from (location or country of origin).
Stay up to date with OSINT
One way to keep up-to-date with OSINT content is getting online and onto platforms like Twitter
Use Twitter’s search bar to find OSINT-related content. Searching for terms such as OSINT or SOCMINT is a good way to find quick OSINT tips and links to recent OSINT articles. If your interest lies in privacy-related content, try searching for OPSEC (operational security), as well as keywords like privacy or security. These terms have all been used to share content pertinent to OSINT. The advantage of searching for keywords such as OSINT is that it lets you discover Twitter users who consistently share content about this subject.
If you like to read books, check out Rae Baker’s new OSINT book: Deep Dive: Exploring the Real-world Value of Open Source Intelligence. Rae Baker is a Senior OSINT Analyst who specializes in maritime intelligence, human intelligence, corporate reconnaissance, and U.S. sanctions research. This book offers in-depth information and practical insights into open-source intelligence.
There is also Michael Bazzell’s book called OSINT Techniques (10th Edition). Michael Bazzell is a well-known figure in the field of OSINT. He is a former FBI special agent who gained recognition for his expertise in digital investigation, online intelligence gathering, and privacy.
Find OSINT Jobs
It’s important to remember that there isn’t one standard path to becoming an OSINT practitioner. Each person's journey will look different based on factors such as their work experience, geographical location, and the types of jobs available within their specific industry.
Consider and make a note of any courses you have taken related to internet research, writing skills, analytical writing, critical thinking, etc. This may assist you later on when you apply for an OSINT job.
Conduct online research and look for OSINT job descriptions. Make note of the qualifications for that job, then actively try to find roles that would help you gain that experience.
OSINT Jobs is an initiative by Lorand Bodo, who has created a database of OSINT jobs around the world. The site allows users to filter by country, experience level, job type, and OSINT area.
This blog post provides ideas for where you can find answers to your questions about finding more about the field of OSINT. Each person has their own methods to find information online and preferred method of learning. You may prefer reading blog posts, watching YouTube videos, or finding content by conducting your own searches. Remember, it’s vital to apply what you learn as it’s a great way to remember and continue to build your skill set.
Learn more about SANS Institute's Introductory OSINT course: SEC497 Practical Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT).