Open source is defined as publicly available information, i.e. information that any member of the public can lawfully obtain. In order to conduct research on individuals or businesses, OSINT is used by various organizations such as law enforcement, investigative journalists, and law firms.
Information to start your research can include a name, email address, phone number, home address, website, business name, etc
You can harness the power of the tools available to you by determining where to look for information among both the Surface and Deep Web. The Surface web is what you find when you search using traditional search engines like Google and Bing. The Deep web is a place on the internet where traditional search engines typically do not have access; keep in mind that a vast majority of material on the internet is held within the Deep web.
Some starting points if you have a name, phone number or email address are:
Always remember to protect your privacy when conducting your open source research. There is more than one way to protect your identity online. For example, you can anonymize your identity by:
Another factor to consider when researching online is critical thinking which is paramount to conducting open source research. Remember it’s not Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) if you just find someone’s Facebook or other social media account, ask yourself what value does it add to the investigation? What would be relevant to the investigation? Ask yourself the who, what, where, when, and how questions.
Create the necessary linkages and associations between entities of importance; this is where you give meaning to raw information you originally collected. Analyze open source information you locate, and turn it into intelligence.
OSINT is not collected, it is produced, and remember that intelligence is the outcome of information being evaluated and analyzed. One of the ways to learn more about OSINT is to immerse yourself in current content in the field; read and explore OSINT related books and blogs.
Until next time, thank you for reading!