How to Use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

This article offers our thoughts on how to use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), what OSINT is, how to use it and understand what can you find with it.

What is OSINT?

Open Source Intelligence is the collection and collation of Intelligence from the public domain. Yes, OSINT can be found on Google, Bing, other specialist search engines and the deep web. Also well as pay walled databases. This is Open Source. To make the most of OSINT requires a great deal of time to analyse the collected information. But just like all Intelligence before you start you have to understand what you are looking for. 

It may sound obvious, but if you begin without this understanding, all you will get is lots of information. Probably too much information. Like Competitive Intelligence, it is essential to define what you are looking for, generally – the topics of tour search and investigation criteria. Then drill down by specifying well thought out questions.

Open and closed

The term Open comes from the civilian and military intelligence community. Meaning, overt, publicly available sources. Closed sources restricted to government intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This access to closed sources doesn’t mean the law and governments don’t use Osint. Excellent information can be found from open sources if you know where and how to look. Osint is cheaper than closed sources, and when it comes to the corporate world, it is considered ethical and most importantly, legal. Another advantage that at a fundamental level, it’s relatively easy to do.

Osint does have its limitations as it encourages the collection of masses of data. All of which needs to be analysed collated validated and verified. Your collection efforts will be swamped if you are not careful. And you won’t be able to see the wood for the trees. Also, it can be incredibly boring too. Looking through pages and pages of information requires patience, superb concentration, and a never give up attitude.

Obviously, if someone is trying to hide something, then they are hardly going to make it easy for you. Osint sources vary in quality and reliability. And depends on many things including geographical location, the language it’s written in and the platform which holds it.

How to use OSINT

  • Determine what you are looking for
  • Define a set of questions you need answering
  • Then understand where you will find the information you are looking for
  • Collect the relevant information using search engines, databases and tools. We will soon have a database of Osint sources 
  • Verify what you find
  • Collate the data into appropriate piles
  • Analyse the information you find
  • Determine if you answered the questions
  • Report the information
  • Finally review the project and determine if you need to collect more information

OSINT can cover everything, but in terms of Due Diligence, the following subjects are standard requirements:

  • Name, address and other basic details
  • Career development
  • Email and phone
  • Associated addresses
  • Social media 
  • Media checks
  • Credit checks
  • Compliance and sanctions
  • Political exposure
  • Land Registry
  • Property valuation
  • Aircraft and boat ownership
  • Data leaks
  • Patient search
  • National and international directorships
  • Offshore company officer searches
  • Current and previous litigation
  • Bankruptcy and Insolvency checks
  • County court judgements
  • Deep web search

How to use Open Source Intelligence (Osint)

This article offered our thoughts on how to use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) on, what OSINT is, how to use it and what can you find with it. 

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