The Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Cycle

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Data harvesting – In this phase, the OSINT investigator collects and harvests information from the select sources and other sources that are discovered.
  3. 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.
  4. Data analysis – In this phase, the OSINT Investigator performs data analysis of the processed information using OSINT analysis tools and techniques.
  5. Results delivery – It is the final phase in the OSINT analysis and findings are reported to the stake holders.
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