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How Is Open Source Intelligence Used In Cybersecurity ?

Sept 25 2021

How Is Open Source Intelligence Used In Cybersecurity Blog Article

What Is Open Source Intelligence ?

OSINT refers to all the information which is open for public consumption, this includes both online and offline resources. You may wonder, does this information need to be free to be considered a part of OSINT resources? The answer is No, for example, the information contained in scientific papers, books, and magazines need to be purchased first in order to disseminate it in your OSINT gathering activity. Open source intelligence (OSINT) is information collected from public sources such as those available on the Internet, although the term isn't strictly limited to the internet, but rather means all publicly available sources..

5 Reasons Why Every Organization Needs An OSINT Team

1The number of businesses in the world is rising, and with that rise comes an increasing threat level. Countless new technologies create new areas of vulnerability for both cyber and information-based businesses, as well as brick and mortars. More often than not, businesses straddle both realms with the rise of e-commerce and electronic banking solutions. Open source intelligence (OSINT), is increasingly important for organizations for a number of reasons. In this article we outline the top 5 reasons today’s organizations need to embrace OSINT techniques into their security processes.
1. Detect Data Breaches Early On
In 2019, Information security is more important than ever. OSINT analysts are experts at navigating buried data from search engines and web pages, and uncovering online intelligence quickly. These experts are deft at handling the tools and techniques required to conduct OSINT investigations and catch leaks. Businesses are at a constant risk of confidential information being leaked, such as customer personal information, intellectual property, and more.
2. Protect Brand Reputation And Preserve Trust
Nothing damages a company more than losing brand trust. Preserving the integrity of your brand is a multifaceted job, and a team employing OSINT resources can certainly help. Getting ahead of data leaks, as outlined above, is paramount for protecting customer information and ensuring they have every reason to trust you and your company. Gathering and analyzing open source data like public social media can also be crucial to help you monitor mentions of your brand name in particular locations in order to stay ahead of online slander.
3. Gather And Understand Public Sentiment, React, And Respond
Whether your organization is looking to understand the public perception in a particular region for business expansion, or there has been a public-facing incident that requires crisis communication, data collected through OSINT research can be an invaluable asset for making better informed decisions. Social media and dark web are key places to go for open source information gathering regarding public opinion.
4. Real Time Incident Response - Violence, Theft, Crisis
Any time there is a large number of people gathering in a particular place, there are risks to consider. Events as benign as sports games and festivals can quickly become heated and dangerous. These are often places where we are most vulnerable, as we are accessible to predators. Teams responding to incidents need access to real time information about the situation so they can keep people safe.
5. Protect Executives In Specific Locations - At Home Or Abroad
For the highly variable task of executive protection, rapid access to OSINT tools can advise your team on factors like:
• Is there a fire or other event happening in the city where I’m sending my executive?
• Have airports, roadways, or other means of egress really been closed?
• Is there a shareholders meeting with high risk individuals who need protection?
• Is my VIP’s data leaked on the dark web?

Ethical Hacking

IT security professionals utilize OSINT search techniques and tools to discover weaknesses in friendly IT systems, so such vulnerabilities can be closed before threat actors discover them. Commonly found vulnerabilities include:
1. Accidental leaking of sensitive information on social media sites. For example, an unaware employee may post a personal photo in the server room showing the type of security devices used to secure corporate networks.
2. Open ports and insecure services running can be discovered when scanning the subject network for vulnerabilities using specialized tools.
3. Outdated operating system versions, software and any content management systems already in use.
4. Leaked information found on data leak repositories or across the darknet.

IT security professionals utilize OSINT search techniques and tools to discover weaknesses in friendly IT systems, so such vulnerabilities can be closed before threat actors discover them.

The Dark Side of Open Source Intelligence

At this point, it’s time to address the second major issue with open source intelligence: if something is readily available to intelligence analysts, it’s also readily available to threat actors. Threat actors use open source intelligence tools and techniques to identify potential targets and exploit weaknesses in target networks. Once a vulnerability is identified, it is often an extremely quick and simple process to exploit it and achieve a variety of malicious objectives.
This process is the main reason why so many small and medium-sized enterprises get hacked each year. It isn’t because threat groups specifically take an interest in them, but rather because vulnerabilities in their network or website architecture are found using simple open source intelligence techniques. In short, they are easy targets.
And open source intelligence doesn’t only enable technical attacks on IT systems and networks. Threat actors also seek out information about individuals and organizations that can be used to inform sophisticated social engineering campaigns using phishing (email), vishing (phone or voicemail), and SMiShing (SMS). Often, seemingly innocuous information shared through social networks and blogs can be used to develop highly convincing social engineering campaigns, which in turn are used to trick well-meaning users into compromising their organization’s network or assets. This is why using open source intelligence for security purposes is so important It gives you an opportunity to find and fix weaknesses in your organization’s network and remove sensitive information before a threat actor uses the same tools and techniques to exploit them.

Conclusion

The huge technology advancement and the wide range of internet communication increase with day-by-day. OSINT becomes a critical component of both public and private intelligence, supplying business , governments, and individuals with tools and techniques to gather intelligence from high-quality information to the base and make decisions on. OSINT is beneficial for different scenarios, whether you are conducting an investigation for research, competitor intelligence, vulnerability assessment, threat analysis, or you are simply an individual who cares about his privacy and wants to discover what personal information is already – inadvertently – leaked about him, OSINT will give you the required tools to have access to some of the best available data in the world and mostly for free.


SwiftSafe Blog Author

Author

James Maverick

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