OSINT or Open-source intelligence is data collected from sources that are publicly available and used in an intelligence context. The term “open” is understood in the intelligence community as publicly available or overt sources and is not the same as public intelligence nor open-source software. Now that we’ve defined it, what can you gain from understanding what is OSINT and how to use it?
Understanding Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
Just as you can look up publicly available information about yourself, anyone else can do it too. How do you know that someone who’s holding a grudge against you is not looking up details about you right now? Do you know what sort of information someone can gather about you online? Are you aware that the same information can be used against you, your loved ones, your business, and your career?
OSINT has been around for hundreds of years and is not solely a product of modern times. It is concerning though that the rapid information transfer and instant communication that we have now makes it a lot easier to gather information from unclassified or public sources. Because it concerns data that is publicly available, anyone can conduct some assessment of himself or herself with the use of some OSINT just as strangers can access the same.
How Safe Are You for Real?
Ask yourself, what information is available about you online and offline that can pose a threat to yourself? Note that any data that can be found about you as a business person and as a private person can be used a myriad of ways. For example, simply posting a status update on social media that you’ll be going on a vacation for a few weeks will let people know that your home will likely be empty. If you’ve posted your address anywhere or had it posted somewhere by someone else (such as for a party in the past), then that can inform bad people that your home will be sitting empty without you for a few weeks.
It is not just strangers you have to be wary about. You simply can’t know whether someone you know is stalking you online or tracking where you’ll be. By posting you’ll be away and posting where you are going, you are informing these people that your home is basically open for the taking or leaving them free to follow where you’re headed, really a huge problem if you have a stalker or if you’re somewhat well-known.
Threats can come in other forms too. Posting a selfie of yourself with your computer in the background can inform bad people what system you use, what antivirus you have, and so on. Although a selfie photo seems harmless, note that a lot of personal information about you can be gathered just by looking at the background. If your selfie is really clear, people can even zoom in and see what papers you have on your desk or what email may be on your screen! This information can be used to attack you, maybe hack your computer, and so on.
Keeping Yourself Safe with OSINT
You don’t have to be someone famous for OSINT to be used against you. If you’d like to be more OSINT alert or if you need help finding out what private information about you is publicly available so that you can take better precautions, simply contact us and avail of our private investigation services. Our cybersecurity know-how and private eye expertise can provide invaluable assistance in keeping you and your family safe.