Thursday, June 9, 2016

OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) Tools Today

Many people would be surprised to learn that Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is considered good enough to meet about 80% or so of all intelligence requirements (IR) within the DoD, or so I have been told.  Now, where does a civilian go to meet their individual needs?  That is a common question, and one that was broached by Kit Perez (nee' Lange) over at her site, TOWR.  As this is an expansive field, this article is an additional resource for those interested in this field.  None of what I present here duplicates Kits' work, so you get more out of this by reading her material as well as this.
You will often deal with images that you have no idea of where they came from.  You will want to find where they were posted and all that sort of detail.  Well, wonder no more!  There are reverse image search and similar image search tools available to you.  Tin Eye is a reverse image search engine.  Google also allows you to search by image instead of by text - just click the camera icon in the search box.

Social media is huge, globally.  It also is used as a means of emergency communications and information dissemination. Via Pinterest, I found an article by Mashable regarding social media and its role.  It has become THE way to raise funds and manage disaster response in the 21st Century.  The value of social media is only beginning to be tapped.  Keep in mind, the emergency utility of social media and of text messaging is that it can function at much lower data rates than voice.  It can be sent and wait in a digital qeue until it has waited in line with all the other communications, unlike your voice circuit which will be inoperable due to volume of calls.
Google Earth is an amazing tool for finding your way around town as well as route planning, but it also can be used for other purposes, such as your OSINT collection plan (you do have a collection plan, right?) [ Note:  there is no doctrinal collection plan matrix.  Tailor one to your own needs - PZ ]

Go find this at

You can find 10 power user tips from Mashable as found at GoogleEarthBlog that will bring your capabilities up several notches.  You can find how to look at changes over time (land use, real estate, industrial development...) , you can use a measuring tool to measure distances and gauge sizes of what you see (you are becoming a "squint" already! ... an imagery interpreter, but don't get carried away).  There are built in guided tours (who knows what you'll find), a built in flight simulator (gee... what will my DIY Drone see?), create your own maps with KML files, use Google SketchUp to place 3D structures on the map (mission planning tool), and you can even see how to use Google earth offline.  All of these features and more you can check out at the link to GoogleEarthBlog.

Intelligence Collection: How to Plan and Execute Intelligence Collection in Complex Environments

For a broader view of how large, state funded media and communications entities look at emergencies and communication in response to disasters and the like, look to the BBC (yes, the "Beeb") for involvement in places where Americans sometimes are not to be found.  The presentation makes for some interesting reading, as does the actual pdf it is based upon.

For a look into the hilarious and dangerous mind of the North Korean state, you can read the propaganda feeds from the state agency in English.  The comedic stylings of Dear leader are the news, or is it the other way around?  How long until Federally mandated "news" looks like that here in FUSA?  How about your worker's daily sheet in your local Oblast?

No matter how you approach it, OSINT is a useful discipline to get familiar with.  Some tools come and go, others stick around but it is the utility that you seek.  Remember to give some thought to a collection plan before you start, or you may never get far due to lack of focus.  You cannot afford the time to go chasing every shiny object or "Look! Squirrel!" out there.  Figure out what you want to know, decide what indicators will show up where, and DO IT.

PS- for an example of integrated, multidisciplinary OSINT as a basis for an entire website , check out

Other blogs that address OSINT for non-professionals are Forward Observer Magazine
who wrote an excellent piece on understanding Counterintelligence and The Order of the White Rose (TOWR).

Addendum:  I am also reminded that another excellent resource for laypeople beginning their intelligence self-education and developing tools to keep themselves, their loved ones and their organizations safe is "Wolves among the Sheep", which I previously reviewed.

Written by StopShoutingBlog contributor and #FAB50 Blog Award Winner Partyzantski, coolest cat on teh inner webs, retired Mustang, former FID embedded military Advisor, SASO trainer and scenario developer, Electronic Warfare Aviator, PME instructor, certified Force Protection and Anti-terrorism officer and combat seasoned USMC (0202) field grade intelligence officer. When not blogging or maintaining weapons proficiency at the range, he enjoys cat herding and travel to off-the-beaten-track locales. 

You can follow him on Twitter @Partyzantski   


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1 comment:

OSINT Solution, Inc said...

Amazing blog Partyzantski ! Didn't know Google Earth is so useful for OSINT. Thank you for sharing the information. Keep posting more updates!