Cyber Security

Open Source Intelligence: Learn all about the OSINT concept

Open Source Intelligence, in short, is information that can be found by anyone .

However, in practice, some of this information is not as easily accessible as imagined, and it is not always used correctly. Therefore, there are trained professionals to process this information.

In this article, we will talk more about Open Source Intelligence, the advantages of this practice of accessing information and what are the main open source intelligence tools.

What is Open Source Intelligence?

Open Source Intelligence is the act of collecting and analyzing publicly available data in online or print format. For example, information disseminated on radio, television or social networks is open source data.

That is, OSINT is all information that can be accessed without violating copyright or privacy laws.

How did OSINT come about?

The concept of open source intelligence emerged during World War II , in the 1930s. At first, the North American Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), from Princeton University, used OSINT practices to listen to official news of American enemies and capture information that could be used in favor of the United States.

Soon after the end of the Cold War, Open Source Intelligence practices were discontinued and were only used again in 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Then, over the years, OSINT practices became popular and intelligence centers were built around the world.

How important is Open Source Intelligence?

According to the former CEO of Google, 99% of the content published on the internet cannot be found in search engines such as Google or Bing. Most of the data is available on the deep web and not easily accessible to most internet users.

Therefore, investing in Open Source Intelligence techniques is an alternative to access this information. Through open source intelligence it is possible to find, collect and store valuable data , which can be used to develop intelligent solutions, produce knowledge and solve problems.

How is Open Source Intelligence used?

Open source intelligence is widely used by cybersecurity professionals , as they are responsible for detecting threats and developing solutions to enhance the security of individuals and organizations.

Open Source Intelligence can help bolster data security.

Check out the two main uses of Open Source Intelligence:

Identification of external threats

The identification of external threats consists of the process of searching for elements that may pose risks and symbolize a threat to the security of something or someone. For example, monitoring publications on social networks, collecting data from the dark web, interception of “conversations”, among others.

Ethical hacking

Ethical hacking , also known as “penetration testing”, makes use of OSINT to identify weaknesses and possible flaws before they are discovered and exploited by malicious hackers. That way, you can work to fix them before something happens.

10 Open Source Intelligence Tools

There are several Open Source Intelligence tools that can be used by both cybersecurity experts and cybercriminals to obtain important information.

Below, we list 10 of these numerous tools and how they work in practice:

1. Shodan

Shodan is a search engine where users can search for devices connected to the internet that have a configuration that can be registered by SHODAN. For example, cell phones, laptops, tablets, routers, among others.


Maltego is open source software used in forensic investigations and analysis. That’s because Maltego has data integrations that enable users to gather information and connect OSINT in an investigation.

3.The FOCA

The FOCA is a metadata and hidden information extraction tool from different types of files such as doc, pdf and ppt. Therefore, it is widely used to identify users, emails and folders, in addition to being used to extract useful information from software or operating systems.

4.Google Dorks

Also called Google Hacking, Google Dorks is a mechanism that allows advanced search on web pages to find hidden information. Normally, this information is confidential data of companies or individuals and is not available in a simple Google search.


Metagoofil is a tool capable of extracting and collecting metadata from public documents, such as pdf, doc, ppt, among others. This happens because when downloading the documents, Matagoofil uses tools, such as Hachoir and PdfMiner, to collect this data.

6.EXIF DataViewers

Currently, almost all images have information stored in the image. Therefore, EXIF ​​Data Viewers have become popular. Simply put, EXIF ​​Data Viewers is an extension for Google Chrome that enables access to this image information. For example, with EXIF ​​it is possible to know the time and date of the image, if a flash was used, the type of flash and lens used, etc.


Cyberstalking refers to the act of stalking or harassing a person in the digital environment. In these cases, cyberstalkers use Open Source Intelligence tools to invade the victim’s account, collect personal information, monitor messages, among other criminal behaviors.

8.Social Engineer Toolkit

Social Engineer Toolkit is an open source tool whose role is to facilitate online social engineering attacks. The Social Engineer Toolkit works like this: a backdoor is placed in an executable and sent to the victim. Upon access, it generates a server capable of stealing the victim’s information.


Nmap is an Open Source Intelligence software that performs a complete scan on a computer network to discover which systems or services are currently being used and make a map of the network. Because of this, it is a widely used tool to assess computer security and identify failures.


SpiderFoot is an optimization tool that brings together several APIs for searching information on the internet in a single place. In this way, it is easier to analyze the data and identify possible threats or failures in the storage of information.

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