Oh What? How Open Source Intelligence Connects our World

5 Jun 2023

OSINT has become a bit of a buzzword, whilst becoming more blurred on whats actually classified as open source intelligence. Today we’ll look quickly at some of the ways open source intelligence connects our world behind the scenes.
First, lets get a ChatGPT refresher on just what exactly is defined as open source intelligence, and a quick history of its evolution. Open source intelligence, or OSINT for short, is like a treasure hunt for information. Imagine a group of detectives scouring the streets, looking for clues to solve a mystery. Except instead of physical clues, they’re searching for information in the vast expanse of the internet and other publicly available sources.
The history of OSINT can be traced back to the early days of intelligence gathering, when spies would sneak into enemy territories to gather information. But with the advent of the internet and the explosion of publicly available information, the practice of OSINT has evolved to include gathering and analyzing information from a wide range of sources, including social media, news articles, and government websites.
In recent years, OSINT has become increasingly important for businesses, governments, and security agencies. For businesses, OSINT can be used to gather information about competitors and make strategic decisions. Governments and security agencies rely on OSINT to gather information about potential threats and protect national security. Even individuals use OSINT for personal or professional reasons, such as researching a topic or background checking a person.
Overall, OSINT is like a powerful magnifying glass that allows organizations and individuals to gather and analyze information from the vast expanse of the internet and other publicly available sources, and use that information to make better decisions and stay safe.
MH370 Data released by the Aus Govt.
But we still havent managed to pin down yet where this leaves us with the average person during the day to day usage of open source intelligence. So lets look at that a little closer. In the cyber world, OSINT can be used by security researchers and companies to gather information about potential cyber threats, such as new malware or vulnerabilities in software.
For example, a security researcher might use OSINT techniques to search for mentions of a new strain of malware on social media or in online forums. By gathering information about the malware from these sources, the researcher can then analyze it to understand how it works and develop ways to protect against it.
Another example is using OSINT to track down cyber criminals, by collecting and analyzing information from social media, darkweb, and other publicly available sources, security agencies can identify the individuals or groups behind cyberattacks, and track down their location and infrastructure used for the attack.
Next, Have you ever checked a flight arrival time, or done some research on stocks you hold, or a company you’ve applied to for employment? If so, then congrats! You’re also officially a user of open source intelligence. In all seriousness though, these are just a few examples of osint that are accesible to the average user, that have simply been accepted as part of the benefits of living in our connected world. OSINT is like blockchain in the sense that its strength is in the openess of the information. This means like blockchains, its incredibly difficult to “game the system” because the system its self is effectively monitored by all. A significant strength when compared to things like state based, or biased media sources.
So where to from here? Well really, this is the exciting bit. Since the explosion of connected devices osint has grown exponentially. As technology continues to evolve, it is expected that the practice of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) will become increasingly sophisticated. One area where this is likely to be seen is in the tracking and reviewing of blockchain transactions. Blockchain technology, the backbone of cryptocurrency which is used to record and verify digital transactions, is becoming more widely adopted in a variety of industries. Because blockchain transactions are recorded on a decentralized, public ledger, they can be tracked and reviewed by investigators using OSINT techniques.
However, it’s important to note that the open nature of blockchain also makes it a potential target for exploitation. Criminals may attempt to use blockchain to launder money or conceal illicit activities. However, the transparency of the blockchain makes it difficult to conceal these activities, as the transactions can be easily traced and reviewed by anyone. This transparency is also a strength of the blockchain, as it allows for increased security and trust in digital transactions.
In conclusion, as OSINT continues to evolve, it is likely that the tracking and reviewing of blockchain transactions will become an increasingly important aspect of the practice. This is because the transparency and decentralization of blockchain technology makes it an ideal tool for gathering and analyzing information. While the open nature of blockchain technology may pose some challenges, it is also one of its greatest strengths.
So there we have it! Hopefully after giving this a read, you have a clearer understanding on how leveraging everyday technology is intself a form of osint and one that in all likeliness makes our world a better place.

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