We live in a digital world. As we spend more and more time online, a digital footprint is being created about us. Comments on blogs, posts on social network sites, even public records are all searchable with the right tools. Google does a very good job of finding information on the web, but there are programs that dig deeper. They combine all the publicly available information and allow you to follow links through associations. This is called Open Source Intelligence Gathering.
According to wikipedia:
“Open source intelligence (OSINT) is a form of intelligence collection management that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence.”
Some of these programs are just amazing. Maltego, an open source intelligence and forensics program, will blow your socks off. Want to find out information on a person, website, or company? Give Maltego a try. It creates a web of associations from whatever search term you put in. You can use different options, called transforms, to key in on pertinent data. Want to see what social sites are used by a person; there is a transform for that.
Some companies are even using this program to search out what other companies are doing. The Government uses these tools to supplement their proprietary software. Hackers too use these programs when they are gathering information on a target.
Used in the right hands, Open Source Intelligence Gathering programs are an amazing tool. Paterva has made internet data mining very simple and easy to use.