From a security perspective, you might be acquainted with Google hacking concerning troubleshooting security holes in websites. But are you aware of the other approaches where you can use OSINT tools for cybersecurity purposes? Open-source intelligence facilitates insights into your security weaknesses and also assists to develop a greater interpretation of customer profiles and behaviors.

What are OSINT Tools

Open Source Intelligence, OSINT tools allow you to gather publicly accessible data from sources on the internet, and draw it together in the form of actionable information which you can then use to analyze. Some of the sources that it might gather from include news articles, social media content, or publicly available government information. What’s more, these can help aggregate details from sources that are hard to find with just a search engine, such as unpublished documents and reports which are open source.

OSINT tools like email, phone, and IP lookup tools are particularly useful in helping you to gather intelligence on users. Going on a user’s email address, phone number, or IP address, there’s not that much you can tell about them – such as whether they’re potentially a criminal looking to take advantage of your site, or if they are a high-value customer that you can target positively.

The freely accessible information that you gather with their help like the ones we’ve mentioned above helps provide a much better context for the data points that you have. After all, you want to turn “raw data” and incomplete datasets into actionable figures, which involves making sure that they are complete and organized. This is also known as data enrichment. We’ll now look at how these work, and the myriad ways in which they can be useful to you, depending on your aims.

How OSINT Data Enrichment Works

Starting from a single primary data point like a user’s IP address or email address, you can then enrich this using a tool that aggregates information from databases. You’re essentially filling in a dataset using additional information that the tool finds for you. When it comes to enriching an email, you can find out additional information such as whether it’s disposable, whether it has been involved in unintentional information disclosure, or whether the domain is registered. It’s also possible to find out whether it’s registered with any social media accounts, including how long they’ve been registered for.

OSINT Tools Help You Spot Suspicious Digital Footprints

When you enrich a user’s IP address, you can find out other types of information based on this data point. You’ll be able to find out which country the user is based in, as well as whether they are using proxy servers or a Tor browser. If a user’s hiding behind a TOR browser, they’re likely suspicious. You can then use this additional information to decide whether or not to block them.

Phone numbers are also a useful piece of information if you’re looking to gather details on a customer for cybersecurity purposes. If a phone number is disposable, then the user is statistically much more likely to be a criminal than a legitimate client.

So in summary from the above, if you’re trying to prevent fraud this additional information – is very useful. Thanks to this data aggregation process, you’ll be able to create a much bigger picture of a customer’s digital footprint which can help you to make decisions about whether they are potentially suspicious or not.

As SEON explains in their IP lookup tool guide, you can run an IP lookup check manually yourself using OSINT or you can enlist the aid of third-party services. The latter means that you can run several IP lookup checks at once; useful if you’re dealing with large quantities of clients on your site. A manual check might be more useful if you’re looking to conduct a thorough investigation into one particular user. You can import a list of users’ IP addresses, and they’ll enrich the data for you.

Why OSINT Tools For Cybercrime?

You might be thinking: why invest so much time in them for tackling cybercrime, as opposed to other tools on the market? By building a better data profile of your customers, you’ll be able to spot more trends in criminal behavior, which means you’ll be able to stay ahead of them. After all, fraudsters are constantly updating their methods. According to Nath Solicitors, Goldman Sachs is currently using OSINTs to find out more about criminal groups and protect their supply chains.

As open-source data continues to grow in volume, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to be able to process information properly – it’s hard to work with raw figures alone. Using them means that you’re able to gather and process large amounts of data on all types of customers – including cybercriminals.

OSINT Investigations From a Marketing Perspective

But what about from a marketing perspective? As you can use open-source data to build a better picture of the demographics that your users belong to, they are incredibly powerful tools for markers. The more you’re able to hone them down to specific demographics, the easier it becomes to target relevant ads or email marketing campaigns to those audiences. Let’s look at a few examples.

Customers who are registered with sites like GitHub are usually software developers, and so tend to be high earners. Code Institute found that the average software developer earns within six figures. This means that you can choose to target ads to this audience which reflects both their common interests and spending power. Also, social media sites give you an indication as to what your clients might be interested in.

As Forbes found, some of the advantages of using it as a marketer is that you can build a digital avatar of your target customer by identifying the content they’re consuming, and their generic goals, and finding similarities within multiple networks. You can also leverage these tools to find out which pain points your products solve for them – in other words, they can help you investigate why they are coming to you in particular (and not your competitors).

Do Hackers Use OSINT Tools As Well?

As it happens, it’s not just cybersecurity teams using it to track down fraudsters. Criminals are also using them too: they can use them to gather intelligence on their targets; they can better spot vulnerabilities in your system. Take for example weaknesses in your security policies, or the personal data of key members of a company’s IT support team. Companies can protect themselves from these investigations by ensuring that their teams are educated about phishing techniques, as well as how and why they might be targeted for personal data.

The Legalities of Using OSINT for Customer Investigations

Using OSINT tools to gather information on users in this way is legal, as you’re simply using data that is available in the public domain – you’re collating info from “open sources”. This means that you don’t have to ask for permission to access this information.

They are increasingly crucial in the fight against cybercrime. They’re also becoming more valuable to marketers who are looking to more effectively analyze target customer demographics. As businesses have to deal with increasingly huge pools of information, having a tool that can process and make this raw data actionable is crucial.