Opensource Intelligence (OSINT)
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What is Open Source Intelligence?

OSINT is objective intelligence or data that has been collected from publicly available, legally accessible sources to satisfy a specific intelligence need. OSINT resources take two forms, online and offline and, whilst offline resources may still be valuable, ongoing global digitisation means that the vast majority of regularly used OSINT sources are now online.

Key benefits of OSINT include:

  • Accessibility – Open source data can be accessed at almost any time and from almost anywhere
  • Speed – Open source data, in many cases, is constantly updated by multiple sources and is therefore often the best source of up-to-date information
  • Cost – Open source data is, by nature, often freely available


OSINT is also used extensively by individuals, criminals and other organisations for negligent or nefarious purposes.

Kim Forfar

Kim Forfar
Forensic Investigator
kim@sscinfo.co.za

OSINT Process

1. Source Identification

Source Identification is the first stage in the OSINT Process or Cycle and involves determining where data specific to your objective can be obtained.

2. Data Harvesting

Data Harvesting or Collection is the second step in the OSINT Process. There are two types of Data Harvesting:

  • Passive Harvesting – When our actions cannot be detected and leave no, or little, trace
  • Active Harvesting – When our actions are detectable and leave traces

3. Data Processing

Data Processing is the third step in the OSINT Process. During the Data Processing stage, harvested information is sorted, filtered and given structure. Key points to consider in this step:

  • Relevance of collected data
  • Validity of collected data
  • Cohesiveness of the collected data

4. Data Analysis

Data Analysis is the fourth step in the OSINT Process. During the Data Analysis stage, harvested and processed information from multiple sources is combined to create a cohesive picture that answers questions specific to your objective.

  • The creation of timelines
  • The mapping of relevant details to identify links and commonalities

5. Reporting

Reporting is the final step in the OSINT Process. Report remains free from bias, provides context and ensure data is integrous and can be traced back to source.

To find out more about our Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) & Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT) Human Intelligence (HUMINT) investigations services, contact Howard on +27 82 449 0317 or howard@sscinfo.co.za.

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