Open Source Intelligence Gathering

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.

Visual Traceroute Program

Traceroute(Unix) and Tracert (Windows) are commands used to trace the path packets or information take from your computer to its destination on the web.  These are terminal commands and the output can be somewhat techie.

If you would like to see how information gets from your computer to say, and you would like to see it in a simple format,  you can use a “visual traceroute” program. The visual traceroute program runs a trace of the path your packets will take to the destination, then displays them on a map for you to see.

One such program available is the Visual Trace Route Tool by Kirk Ouimet. It is a nice program that ties the output to a google map so you can see step by step the path that your packets take. Check it out at