Why OSINT is Important

To begin, for those finding Bsquared Intel for the first time and are unfamiliar with OSINT, let’s define it.

OSINT, or Open Source Intelligence, is collecting, analyzing, and using publicly available information to help make decisions or answer questions.

Also, OSINT isn’t the be all end all solution. It has it’s limitations. However, when used appropriately it’s very powerful.

OSINT is important across many professions and industries. The following illustrate some reasons why OSINT provides value.

Cyber security

In cyber security OSINT is used to find vulnerabilities within applications, networks, physical penetration tests, and when testing security awareness programs via Social Engineering campaigns. OSINT becomes even more important when expanding research beyond the “four walls” of your organization. The discipline can help discover leaked documents and data dumps that contain sensitive information that make it to a publicly accessible platform. OSINT can also help find threat actors and potentially attribute them to malicious activity. This could come in the form of a disgruntled employee posting stolen data on their blog or a group planning an attack. With this paragraph being focused on business, OSINT is also important for people too.

On the personal side of things, OSINT can help individuals understand what breadcrumbs they’re leaving behind in their digital footprint that can lead to identity theft or a cyber security incident. We wrote about this in our Project Warwalk series, which you can read here.

Due diligence

Due diligence comes in many forms. If you’re buying something for your house, or business, you might devote a little bit of time to checking out reviews of a vendor’s product or service. For software or hardware you might dig a little deeper and look for reported vulnerabilities, or if the vendor was hacked in the past, or look for owner manuals online to see if there are things that might be a show stopper for you.

Due diligence also comes in the form making sure nothing is going to derail a business deal or a legal case. Conversely, due diligence can provide confidence in these two situations by having information that will show you a path forward that the other party might not know about.

Legal cases

In the section above we mentioned that OSINT is important when preparing for a legal case. When working on legal cases, OSINT, and it’s counterpart SOCMINT(Social Media Intelligence) are used to help answer questions, provide background information, and verify/identify people/places/things.

Finding and fighting misinformation/disinformation

Misinformation is the spread of incorrect information regardless of the distributor’s intent. Disinformation is the purposeful distribution of false information with the intent to mislead, inject bias, divide people, or cause harm.

Within the realm of healthcare there is Rumors Intelligence, or RUMINT. This is rumors about an infection disease, for example, that is being spread in the digital space, for instance, where there is no basis in fact. It’s important for public health and healthcare professionals to get ahead of these rumors in order to provide messaging to the public that accurately informs. OSINT is useful in this case.

And then we circle back to cyber security, where Social Engineering is a form of misinformation and disinformation. This can come in the form of phishing sites or hijacked/fake social media accounts/websites.

Getting ahead of misinformation and disinformation is challenging. You have to juggle with making sure the messaging you communicate is accurate while also figuring out where this incorrect information is coming from and what the reason for it is.

Contact us to let us know how you’re using OSINT or if you’re curious how we can help you.