Open-source intelligence, or OSINT, refers to the process of collecting information from public and legal data sources to serve a specific function. Some open sources components might include social media, videos, blogs, news, and the web (surface, Deep and Dark Web).
OSINT encompasses 5 phases in its process. The following diagram shows the OSINT cycle.
- Source Identification – It is the initial phase of the OSINT process. The OSINT investigator (Black Hat or White Hat) identifies the potential sources from which information will be gathered.
- Data harvesting – In this phase, the OSINT investigator collects and harvests information from the select sources and other sources that are discovered.
- Data processing and information- During this phase, the OSINT investigator processes the harvest information for actionable observation by searching for information that may assist in the enumeration.
- Data analysis – In this phase, the OSINT Investigator performs data analysis of the processed information using OSINT analysis tools and techniques.
- Results delivery – It is the final phase in the OSINT analysis and findings are reported to the stake holders.