When it comes to OSINT…I thought I knew what I was doing!
I’ve been an Intelligence Professional now for practically a decade.
And, I thought I could Facestalk with the best of them.
I mean, I’ve got my alternative log-ins, and I keep pretty regular tabs on friends, family and ex-girlfriends.
“Aint’ nothing getting past me, right?” … Or so I thought.
But I was wrong. So very wrong.
Before, when I searched a Facebook profile – if there wasn’t any information accessible, I simply packed up and went home.
OSINT on fleek
Yep, before I’d clumsily stumble through Google searches, praying for public Facebook profiles and using only the public LinkedIn info.
If you were smart enough to lock down your privacy settings and restrict your friends, photos and college mistakes – you were pretty safe.
But, I wanted to be an online ninja – like the Mossad of the internet.
So I started looking for courses to improve my online research and to gain access to better tools, skills and techniques for Open Source Intelligence.
This is when I found Brians’ Open Source Intelligence Masterclass – designed for Analysts, Private Investigators and Police.
After I consumed all the video content (8+ hours), I strutted back into the office feeling like Nero from the Matrix.
This was the moment my Open Source Intelligence journey really began;
- I applied the OSINT techniques to Facebook.
- I looked up friends, family (and yes even an ex or two).
- I went back over previous work.
- I even used the checklists and downloads in the office.
- I was shocked by how much I didn’t know. It’s actually a little embarrassing.
This month, friends and colleagues have been begging me if I can teach them OSINT TTPs.
So, I’ve shared with them the key points and tools from the Open Source Masterclass to take them through the process.
OSINT Ninja Tool 1: Burner is an application that allows you to buy phone credits and make calls with a temporary phone number. This allows you to mask your caller ID and appear to be dialling from local numbers.
OSINT Ninja Tool 2: Spydialer allows you to lookup both cell phones and landlines; social network (based on phone number) and their outbound-voicemail capture allows you to record a target’s voice-mail without their phone ringing. (US Only).
OSINT Ninja Tool 3: Archive.org has 20+ years of web history saved in its databases – That’s like 279 Billion Web pages and growing! This provides the OSINT analyst with an amazing tool if they’re searching for a historical website, or data no longer available on the net – certainly one to add to your set of favourites!
About the OSINT Masterclass Course
The main part of the Open Source Masterclass is an 8-hour program that will take anyone (you, your colleagues, even a police officer) through the basics of OSINT collection, and analysis.
What I liked is that everything was included and it was self-paced. Meaning I could complete the course on my own time.
I loved that Brians’ course provided me with a good foundation and introduced the various information sources and databases to use.
This course taught me the exact Open Source techniques to use no matter what case or target file lands on my desk.
Here’s my Summary
Learn to think like an Investigator. Getting into the right mindset is the most important step. Don’t do a single thing until you actually understanding what OSINT can be used for, and the tools available at your disposal. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Onwards.
Manage your research time in an orderly and efficient manner. Honest confession. Before this course, I subscribed to the “scattergun approach” of OSINT. Some of you will know this looks like – 15+ tabs open in chrome following every social media rabbit without any real process…phew exhausting.
See the OSINT tools, tips and tactics an actual investigator uses. Teaching and explaining only goes so far, and since I’m a hands-on learner I want to see how these tools work. Brian records his computer screen and so it’s like we’re in the room with him.
Easy to understand practical advice (even for a Mac user). I’m an analyst – not a hacker, so give me info, not code. As soon as something starts to become too technical or involves the words “kernel, bios or Linux” I’m outties.
The Best Part was that Brian’s Open Source Masterclass is non-technical and presents easy to understand and practical ways to;
- Find addresses and phone people using available resources.
- Identify former employees of a company or organisation.
- Draw connections between people, places, and things.
Case Study: Monitoring and analyzing online activity of an Activist Group
This is the future of OSINT. In fact, a previous job required me to track and monitor activist groups online.
I was consulting with a large resource company in the oil & gas sector.
A group on environmental activists were planning protest action, they intended to board an offshore oil rig, chain themselves to the asset and prevent the operation of the facility.
This activity would cost the business millions of dollars in production per day.
Using our OSINT skills, we were able to monitor the group’s online presence, including their events and identify specific ‘calls to action’ which provided us early warning of their activities.
Ultimately we were able to detect their intentions and act first to avoid loss of production and reputational damage to the company.
At the end of the course, I was able to:
- Prepare an open source investigation action plan.
- Conduct a thorough open source intelligence investigation,
- Know where to start, what resources to use and how to structure your investigation to avoid information overload.
- And, whether or not my ex did end up marrying that other guy…She did.
Learn Open Source Intelligence from a Top Professional Investigator
Without Open Source Intelligence Masterclass I’d probably still be clicking through to page 3 on Google and convincing myself this was Open Source Intelligence.
I’d probably still be clicking through to page 3 on Google and convincing myself I was ‘doing’ Open Source Intelligence.
Now I’ve Completed the Open Source Masterclass I’ve got a good foundation of knowledge from a professional investigator who knows their stuff and uses these techniques every day.
This Course Has Increased Our Capabilities
My Boss: “Hey, I’ve got someone I need you to take a look into”…
Music to my ears. You know why? Because this meant our team was providing more value! Anyone ego driven intelligence analyst can tell you – it’s good to be needed!
And greater access to information (and better skills), means you’re more valuable to the customer and able to provide a better service.
Mike (Intelligence Officer): “I bet you won’t be able to find anything on me!”
– Challenge accepted Mike.
This week a colleague of mine named Mike challenged our team to find anything we could on him using only open sources.
He believed he had optimised his Facebook privacy settings so much that there was “no possible way” I could find any information about him. He was wrong.
**Sorry Mike. OSINT – 1, Your Facebook Privacy Settings – 0.
p.s. Nice Wedding Photos…
“I showed her some tips and she got a helluva lot better, pretty much instantly”.
I have a lady in my team who came to us outside of the usual recruiting process.
She has a HR background but came to us a ‘redeployee’, meaning due to structural changes her position was re-rolled.
I’ve shown her the OSINT tools, tips and tactics and she’s taken to it like a duck to water. She’s now our teams dedicated OSINT analyst!
I Should Have Done It Sooner
It’s taken me ten years of Intelligence experience, two overseas deployments, multiple promotions, countless books and hundreds of hours trying to figure out how to collect, analyse and create actionable intelligence.
For less than $XX the Open Source Masterclass will impart the skills you need to learn OSINT in HOURS, rather than years. You even get the tools to use along the way.
In fact, here’s a tool you can download and use RIGHT NOW…
Here’s how to see hidden photos on Facebook – Super Easy
Step 1: Check out and download the Picture Mate extension for Chrome.
Step 2: Once you’ve downloaded the app, the little icon appears in your extension bar (top right)
Step 3. Next, go to someones facebook profile (Choose someone with tight privacy settings).
Step 4: Press the button and watch the magic happen.
Check out this example above. Mikes FB Account has tight privacy Settings (left) but watch what happens when we use the Picture Mate app to reveal hidden photos. Bboom! we can see more than he wanted us to (right).
Open Source Intelligence Masterclass – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How long does this course take?
A: The course contains 8 hours of video content. It’s self-paced, allowing you to complete it when you have time. Learning all the tools and resources depends on how often you use them.
Q: How is it delivered?
A: It’s video content presented by the PI People, you log in and complete the course in their student portal.
Q: Can’t I just learn this somewhere else?
A: Maybe. I mean, there’re heaps of good resources out there, I actually recommend checking some others on the blog also. But Brian is a professional Investigator who does this every day for a living. He knows his stuff, and it’s all in one place.
…AND INTRODUCING THE COURSE INSTRUCTOR
Brian Willingham, of Diligentia Group, has spent 15 years conducting public record and open source research.
He’s worked high-profile cases with some of the top investigative firms in the world.
In his OSINT masterclass, Brian distils 15 years of investigative experience into a full workday of intensive videos, providing checklists and specific “go to” sites.
Brian blogs over at Diligentiagroup (his investigative firm) and has contributed to a number of industry magazines and publications like Pursuit Magazine, PINow.com and ACFE Insights for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
I Got 99 Problems But OSINT Aint’ One.