OSINT Strategies, Resources and Results
The internet is a vast universe of information. Centuries of data that has accumulated for anyone to use if they can find it. Learning how to harvest this data using a few different strategies and resources to navigate the web is a skill that can be very valuable. Not only in the business world but as a personal achievement as well. The following are some useful tactics to implement on a daily bases to enhance your web researching ability.
Depending on what you are looking for, there are certain ways to go about it in order to get the best results possible.
Google-Fu Search Syntax:
Some commons reasons companies’ hire a web researcher is to discover if there are any incriminating or leaked sensitive documents available on the web. One strategy commonly used is something called Google-Fu. This is technically the “proper” way to use the google search engine. Google-Fu has commands and search syntax options that allow the user to search for exact results instead of a broad scope of keywords. A simple example would be as follows:
- Instead of searching “leaked pdf files from the website example.com”
- Try this “ site:example.com filetype:pdf “
This syntax search will provide only results from example.com that have a pdf file associated with them. Overall learning this strategy can increase the effectiveness of your searches. Bringing the total number of search results from millions to several hundred. Learn more about Google-Fu here.
Legal, Criminal and Voting Information:
Now you know how to search the mass amount of information the internet can provide, next we need to learn how to access specific legal, criminal and voting information. Whether you want to research a specific international law or you want to perform your own background check on an individual. It is important to understand that a lot of this information has to be published publicly but it is not broadcasted as loudly as the evening news ether. By taking the subject matter (ex. A person) and searching for them on all of the different legal, criminal and voting sites, you can slowly piece together a picture of that person’s background. See the example below:
- To see if someone is a registered US citizen you could search the Voters registry first: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote or the Illegal detainee registry: https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do
(Each state will have their own registry as well.)
- If this person was involved in a legal case try searching: https://www.pacer.gov/
(This displays all public court cases)
- Lastly, to see if this person was ever convicted of a crime search: https://www.dmv.org/criminal-records.php
These are just a few, but the idea is to paint a solid picture of a person or company’s’ legal, criminal and voting status.
This can be one of the toughest strategies to perform as there are a lot of results and moving parts. When performing a people search, you have to go into it with a blank slate. The strategy involves using a lot of the people searching engines like Spokeo and PeekYou. These services will provide you with a select amount of information but you will have to pay for all the results. By simply visiting all these sites and grabbing the free information they provide about a person you can start to piece together a profile on someone. This gives you a starting point. Usually you can get full name, relationships, family, phone numbers, emails and addresses. Once you have this, the fun starts.
You will be able to start searching this information against social media sites and public records (like birth records). This is where you can confirm where that person lives, works, and plays. Social media will provide tons of pictures that you can use to put a face to the name (Google Social Searcher). This strategy can take a lot of time and effort to produce effective results, but essentially you can gather anything about anyone for free.
By combining the three strategies covered above, along with using some of the resources listed in the link below, you will be able to gather almost any type of intel needed. Spend some time studying this OSINT site and understanding all the free resources you have at your disposal. The more you use them the better you will become as a web researcher or just navigating the internet in general.
My name is Owen; IT security analyst by day and content writer by night. I have a strong passion for cyber security and using the internet to get my way. I enjoy video games, sports, weightlifting, movies and jet skiing; not in any particular order.
Notice: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Cursive Security.
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