Home Security What is OSINT in Cyber Security? (Examples And Tips)

What is OSINT in Cyber Security? (Examples And Tips)


What is OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) in cyber security? OSINT refers to any information that is publicly available online.

What is its purpose? How does OSINT work? And what is its framework?

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of OSINT and how to use them effectively. This can range from blogs and social media sites to digital files, metadata, and the technical footprint of websites.

What is OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) in Cyber Security?

OSINT is the term used for an intelligence discipline that enables the collection of data from publicly available sources. These sources include search engines, PGP key servers, and the SHODAN computer database. Also, these resources may contain illegal content, and many people have access to them.

Historically, OSINT was most widely used during the Cold War to gather intelligence on the Soviet Union and China. Since then, significant technological developments have made OSINT more valuable than ever.

OSINT in Cyber Security

While a single IT staff member at a large corporation may know every asset within the organization, it’s rare that they know every asset within the organization. In addition to specialized data, many organizations also manage social media accounts. This information chaos requires the effective management of OSINT in many areas, including cybersecurity. OSINT tools have been developed to address this need.

What is OSINT Used For?

OSINT is the process of gathering data from legitimate sources. For example, security experts have discovered that seemingly trivial information can reveal critical information that may be critical to a cyber attack. OSINT can be derived from open data feeds, geospatial information, or even Web application code. The crucial aspect to consider is knowing where and how to locate this information. Understanding the process and how to use it to protect your organization is critical.

Open Source Intelligence

The primary source of OSINT is the Internet. Also, researchers can obtain information pertaining to a target’s personal, professional, or governmental records via traditional media research or by utilising search engines. The information you gather is important to OSINT, and the information you gather can help prevent cybersecurity threats.

OSINT can also come from non-technical sources, such as professional profiles and social media. For example, if you’re concerned about identity theft, you can get OSINT from social networks and professional profiles.

What Are OSINT Techniques?

Several organizations have developed tools and frameworks to facilitate the collection and analysis of OSINT data.

While governments constitute the largest users of OSINT, ordinary citizens can also use it. Ordinary users of social media and the Internet can use this tool to monitor their personal information online. This can help them in deleting unwanted information that has been leaked online or in preventing bad actors from targeting them.

For example, OSINT can help identify information about political and social leaders or their travels, which can help them protect their personal information and avoid being targeted by cybersecurity threats.

OSINT Framework

What is The OSINT Framework?

OSINT is the process of gathering information about a target. This process can be time and energy consuming, but many experts and practitioners have created various frameworks that can facilitate the collection of information. These tools are categorized by topic and provide curated and attributed databases of data that can be used for cybersecurity research. Here are three common frameworks.

They are;

  • Passive Collection
  • Active collection
  • Combination of both

Passive collection is the most common form of OSINT. Open Source Information – Information that is publicly available. Also, although open data sources are considered lawful, they can also be utilised for illicit activities.

Hackers have been known to release information they’ve obtained for public use and to influence public opinion for their own purposes. Therefore, people need to use information online responsibly, and an OSINT framework should ensure that users use this data for legitimate purposes.


OSINT tools aid cyber security professionals in obtaining information about the internet and other systems. These tools are also widely used by security researchers, penetration testers, and social engineers.

They include SpiderFoot, which collects data from over 100 different sources, and O365 Squatting, which scans domains in the O365 infrastructure to determine if they’re being typosquatted.


OSINT tools can also include tools such as reNgine, an automated reconnaissance framework that streamlines the reconnaissance process. Also included in the OSINT framework is Recon-ng, an open source, Python-based reconnaissance tool.

When a breach occurs, this information is publicly available, allowing a cybersecurity expert to quickly identify the thief. Many of these measures can aid in eliminating data leaking devices. Therefore, it is crucial for organisations to also possess knowledge of the apparatuses hackers employ.

Here are some OSINT tools;

  • Maltego – Investigations via Java Graphs
  • SEON – Best for social and digital signal checking
  • Lampyre – Due Diligence and CyberThreat Intelligence
  • Google – Free OSINT (if you know how to use it)
  • Recon-ng – Open Source OSINT Framework
  • SpiderFoot – Cybersecurity Intelligence
  • Spokeo – US citizen records checks
  • Have I Been Pwnd – The Data Breach Go-To
  • PhoneInfoga – Python based phone lookup
  • Email Hippo – MX record checks for email lookup

Cyber Security OSINT Use Cases

In the age of technology, the use of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) has become increasingly complex. Every day, people publish more information about themselves online.

Professionals in this industry require specific cyber security tools to analyse data obtained through OSINT.

Let’s examine the most common ways OSINT is being used in cybersecurity today;

In cyber defense, OSINT is used to monitor, analyze, and assess cyber threats. Unlike traditional intelligence gathering, OSINT does not require direct contact with threat actors. This allows investigators to gather information without compromising the confidentiality of the target.

As a result, those assessing cybercrime risk use OSINT to monitor their competitors. They may also conduct penetration tests.

OSINT Used By Hackers

How is OSINT Used By Hackers?

Hackers use OSINT to make themselves look more powerful by exposing the public’s digital identity. However, the dangers of OSINT are still real.

OSINT is used in the following ways;

  • OSINT tools can be used to collect information from Web sites, including passwords, usernames, and more.
  • Using these tools, you can analyze the data and identify security vulnerabilities.
  • One of the primary roles of OSINT tools in cyber security is to identify potential threats.
  • Ethical hackers and pen testers can use OSINT to identify potential vulnerabilities in security systems.
  • For example, a tool called Check Usernames can search 150 websites for a target’s username.
  • If the target does not have a username, it is possible to extract other personal information, including date of birth, email address, and mailing address.
  • Social media analysis is another useful tool for security professionals.
  • Social media accounts can reveal serious security vulnerabilities.
  • This type of OSINT analysis is a subset of OSINT.
  • However, social media sources can be difficult to collect due to the privacy settings of the platforms.
  • Sources for this type of OSINT analysis include professional networking sites, microblogging sites, and video sharing sites.
  • In addition, hackers can also collect OSINT from public posts.

Open Source Intelligence In Cyber Security

The use of open source intelligence (OSINT) in cyber security can help an organization find vulnerabilities in its network or identify threats.

Open Source Intelligence In Cyber Security

Ethical hackers and penetration testers can use open source intelligence in their activities. By identifying new vulnerabilities and intercepting threat chatter, open source intelligence can help cybersecurity professionals prioritize their resources.

Therefore, this technology is now more crucial than ever before, as threats continue to develop. In addition, open source intelligence tools can help organizations conduct aggressive information operations on social networks.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions that come to mind when you hear the term “OSINT in Cyber Security“. Do I have to be a hacker to use OSINT? Is OSINT really intelligence? Are OSINT tools legal?

These are just a few of the frequently asked questions about this emerging technology. Read on for more answers.

Is OSINT A Hacker?

No, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) is not a hacker. OSINT refers to the collection and analysis of publicly available information from various sources, such as websites, social media, news articles, public records, and more.

It’s a legitimate and legal practice used by individuals, organizations, and governments to gather information for various purposes, including research, analysis, threat assessment, and decision-making.

While OSINT can be used by hackers as part of their reconnaissance efforts, the practice itself is not hacking.

What Are OSINT Challenges?

The rise of the Internet has created a new class of threat: fake news. This false information is packaged to look legitimate but contains little or no truth.

It often consists of sensational language and appeals to the audience’s emotions, and is spread across the Internet by supporters or unsuspecting bystanders. Here are three examples of OSINT challenges. One is to uncover a “real person” behind a phishing attack.

The availability of data and the technology mentioned above have created new challenges for OSINT analysts. In addition to generating a large amount of information, OSINT analysts must analyze the information well for cyber security threats.

As a result, cross-border relationships have become critical in this new field. As a result, OSINT challenges have emerged as a growing need to train the next generation of analysts. However, new technologies have opened up a wealth of opportunities, and the demand for intelligence analysts has never been greater.

Is OSINT Really Intelligence?

Yes, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) is a type of intelligence. In this context, intelligence refers to the procedure of gathering, examining, and deciphering information to acquire insights and make informed decisions.

Although OSINT may not involve classified or secret information, it remains a legitimate and crucial source of intelligence in numerous fields.

Are OSINT Tools Legal?

Yes, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) tools are generally legal to use, as long as they are used for legitimate and lawful purposes.

Researchers, analysts, cybersecurity professionals, journalists, and other individuals use these tools for a wide range of purposes, including research, analysis, threat assessment, and decision-making.

However, it’s important to note that the legality of using OSINT tools can vary based on factors such as the specific tool you use, the jurisdiction where you operate, and your intended use of the gathered information.

Is Social Media OSINT?

Yes, social media is a noteworthy source of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence).

Social media OSINT includes the monitoring and analysis of content, discussions, profiles, and interactions on platforms, including Facebook, X, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others.

This information can offer insight into public sentiment, trends, opinions, affiliations, and potential security threats. Also, OSINT analysts utilise social media platforms to obtain information for research, journalism, threat analysis, market research, and other purposes.

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