What’s That Sound? Audio OSINT

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is humbling at times. You’ll come across a piece of information that you need to figure out what it means by exploiting it in a way you’ve never tried before. For us, this came in the form of audio in a capture the flag (CTF) experience.

We’re surrounded by sounds. From music, to conversation, to mechanical sounds, and anything in between, it envelops us every day.

One type of tool you should have in your toolbox for audio is an audio editor or even a DAW(Digital Audio Workstation). Whether it’s software you install locally, or if it’s online, these tools can help clean up an audio track and also manipulate sound. In some instances you can manipulate images in some of these tools. For something simple, versatile, and open source, check out Audacity. [Link]

Along with Audacity, we used the following tools for the CTF we’re working through that we found helpful and thought we’d share.

If you come across audio of someone speaking in a foreign language, but there aren’t any subtitles (if it’s a video) or someone isn’t available who knows the language, what you want is an audio-to-text converter. Once the text is generated you can use Google Translate to understand what’s being said.

If there’s an audio clip where someone is entering something using a phone’s keypad, what you want to do is find a tool to decode the key tones. The tool you’re looking for is a DTMF (Dual-tone multi-frequency) decoder.

We aren’t providing recommendations for audio-to-text converters or DTMF decoders because we were using what we found for education/entertainment purposes. Please vet your tools for privacy issues before going forward with a legitimate investigation.

Our last tool is song recognition apps. For an investigative use case, song recognition tools are best utilized for identifying potential copyright infringement. A well known song recognition app is Shazam [Link] and an alternative is SoundHound [Link]

We wanted to shine a light on audio OSINT because we feel that in the land of image/video analysis, search engines, maps, metadata, and IT infrastructure analysis tools, you don’t see many people talking about this facet of research.

What tools did we miss? Have a favorite tool for audio OSINT? Need help with research for a legal case or something cyber related? Let us know in the contact form below.

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