A brief introduction to OSINT (Open Source Intelligence)

Antony Williams
4 min readMay 5, 2022

There are many different types of intelligence, but one that is used to be overlooked is open source intelligence (OSINT). Despite being underrated in the early days, OSINT skills are becoming more valuable for businesses and non-profits.

1. What is open source intelligence?

Open source intelligence, or OSINT, is a type of intelligence gathering that uses publicly available information. OSINT can be used to gather information on competitors, political and social movements, and other topics of interest. Unlike other forms of intelligence gathering, OSINT doesn’t require special access or equipment. Instead, it relies on information that’s already available online or in other publicly accessible sources.

2. How can open source intelligence help my business?

Open source intelligence (OSINT) is the process of collecting information from publicly available sources. It can help businesses gain a competitive edge by providing insights into the competition, new market opportunities and potential threats. OSINT can also help businesses stay up-to-date on industry trends, regulatory changes and new technologies. In short, OSINT can provide businesses with the information they need to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

3. What are the benefits of open source intelligence?

There are countless benefits of open source intelligence for businesses. Some of the most notable include gaining a competitive edge, understanding your customers, and detecting threats. Let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits. When it comes to gaining a competitive edge, open source intelligence can help you understand what your competitors are doing and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. This information can help you make more informed decisions about your own business and stay ahead of the curve. OSINT can also help you better understand your customers. By analysing publicly-available data about them, you can learn things like their interests, where they live, and what kinds of products they’re likely to buy. This information can be used to create more targeted marketing campaigns and create a more tailored customer experience. Finally, open source intelligence can be used to detect threats. OSINT can help you identify cyber threats, fraud, and other risks to your business before they become a problem.

4. How can I get started with open source intelligence?

There are a few ways you can get started with open source intelligence. The first is to find a platform that provides all the tools and resources you need to get started. This will include a search engine, access to data sources, as well as tutorials and support from experts. The second way is to find a mentor or instructor who can teach you the basics and help you build your skills. Either way, it’s important to find a community of people who can support and help you grow as an OSINT practitioner.

There are a variety of OSINT tools and techniques that can be used, depending on the type of information you are looking for. Some common OSINT tools include search engines, social media platforms, and public records databases. The OSINT Framework is certainly a good starting point to get an idea of the tools available, and also how to use other tools and services for OSINT purposes.

If you want to get started with OSINT, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, it is important to understand the difference between public and private sources of information. Public sources are those that anyone can access, while private sources may require special permission or login credentials.

Second, OSINT gathering should be done in a legal and ethical manner. This means avoiding methods such as hacking or phishing that could result in breaking the law. Finally, remember that OSINT is just one type of business intelligence — there are many other methods and tools that can be used to gather information about your competitors or target market. OSINT can be a valuable part of your overall business intelligence strategy. Another critically important matter to consider are the privacy rights of any individual you might gather data on in the context of an OSINT investigation, certainly regarding GDPR and the processing of personal data.

5. Something to be aware of

Don’t fall victim to confirmation bias, defined as the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs. It is extremely easy to fall into this trap and just look for information you believe to be true. However, a one-sided investigation can be somewhat pointless and yield completely incorrect results. As you journey through your OSINT learning, continuing to be critically aware of confirmation bias, alongside the ability to look for the meaning and context behind the information you find, will make you a much better investigator.

6. Conclusion

Open source intelligence can benefit businesses in a number of ways. It can help businesses gain a competitive edge by giving them access to information that their competitors may not have. It can also help businesses stay up-to-date on current events and developments that could impact their business. In addition, OSINT can help businesses protect themselves from cyber threats. By gathering information about cyber threats, businesses can better protect their networks and data from being compromised.

In future posts we will go into more detail on how OSINT techniques can be leveraged in a variety of different scenarios, including how non-profits can benefit from a OSINT/data-driven approach to fundraising and other day-to-day-tasks.

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Antony Williams

I’m Antony Williams. I’m an intelligence analyst and investigative journalist with over 16 years experience of prying into the hidden world of intelligence.