8 top open source intelligence tools

Find sensitive public info before the bad guys do

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OSINT definition

OSINT, or open source intelligence, is the practice of collecting information from published or otherwise publicly available sources. OSINT operations, whether practiced by IT security pros, malicious hackers, or state-sanctioned intelligence operatives, use advanced techniques to search through the vast haystack of visible data to find the needles they're looking for to achieve their goals—and learn information that many don't realize is public. Open source in this context doesn't refer to the open source software movement, although many OSINT tools are open source; instead, it describes the public nature of the data being analyzed.

OSINT is in many ways the mirror image of operational security, or OPSEC, which is the security process by which organizations protect public data about themselves that could, if properly analyzed, reveal damaging truths. IT security departments are increasingly tasked with performing OSINT operations on their own organizations in order to shore up operational security.

OSINT history: From spycraft to IT

During the 1980s, the military and intelligence services began to shift some of their information-gathering activities away from covert activities like trying to read an adversary’s mail or tapping their phones to discover hidden secrets. Instead, effort was put into looking for useful intelligence that was freely available or even officially published.

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