Whether you’re new to OSINT or an experienced OSINT professional, there is one thing we all have in common, and that is OSINT curiosity. It’s that urge to click on everything and understand how things work in the background. It’s that passion which makes you want to learn more and more, and it’s that investigative curiosity that keeps you digging until you’ve finally found that single piece of information you were looking for. In short, it’s OSINT curiosity that makes you do what you do – every single day.
In this week’s blog, we want to talk more about OSINT curiosity and how you can stay OSINT curious and we’d like to invite you all to share your secrets with us on Twitter or in the comments section below! Without further ado, let’s dive right into the top five things to stay OSINT curious: read, learn, apply, curate, and share.
One simple but very effective way of staying OSINT curious is to read. There are many brilliant OSINTers out there, sharing their insights and knowledge with the broader community. This can range from a single Tweet to blog posts, articles, or even podcasts and videos – all dedicated to specific topics, tools and techniques as well as investigations. Reading (or listening) helps not only to stay OSINT curious by getting inspiration but also to learn more about methods, tools and so much more.
In particular, going through case studies is the best way of learning. This provides you with easy insights into how others carried out an OSINT investigation on a particular issue from concept to completion; what tools and techniques they used (and perhaps which ones didn’t work); what the challenges were and how they were eventually overcome. In essence, to stay OSINT curious, read OSINT. Here are a couple of resources to get you started (in no particular order):
- and of course, https://osintcurio.us
Learning goes hand in hand with reading. It’s simple, the more you read, the more you will learn. There are numerous excellent and free resources out there – far too many to name here. These will allow you to expand your OSINT skill set quickly. I’m always fascinated by the full range of OSINT applications: from antiquities trafficking and blockchain investigations to finding shell companies and missing people or even sensitive locations – all possible with the use of only publicly available sources.
As the open source landscape keeps expanding, so do the applications, tools and techniques. And the best part of it – you can do it anywhere with only a laptop and a decent Internet connection. Reading these case studies and learning how others have done it will not only make you stay OSINT curious but also a better OSINTer. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to become an expert in everything. It’s about learning how others went about dealing with a challenging research question; deciding on which data sources to use and why; what tools and techniques were most appropriate in this case and which ones weren’t; and how open source information was eventually turned into open source intelligence after carefully collecting, verifying and analyzing publicly available information.
Another way of staying OSINT curious is just to apply the knowledge to a case that interests you the most. This is, of course, easier for those whose daily job is OSINT, but if you’re new to OSINT and you’d like to learn more and get better at it, I’d say – just dive right in. Of course, it takes some time to master specific skills. However, this should not stop you from doing what you love.
If you like the idea of geolocating things – finding where something or someone is in the world – you could follow @quiztime and participate in their daily challenges. This is the easiest and best way to practice and master your OSINT geolocation skills. If you want to take it a step further, reach out to OSINT people on Twitter who work on real-world cases and contribute to crowd sourced OSINT investigations.
The fourth-way of staying OSINT curious is to curate resources that others can use. What I mean by this is not another start.me page for OSINT tools. There are already amazing and very useful dashboards, such as Technisette’s OSINT dashboard or Justin Nordine’s OSINT framework. So there is no need to reinvent the wheel. What I mean is carefully curating a list of resources for a niche topic that you’re interested in.
In my case, I created the Terrorism and Radicalisation Research Dashboard because I wanted to share my resources with the broader research and OSINT community. Terrorism/Radicalization are very complex topics that require, amongst other things, loads of research, knowledge and empirical data. Therefore, I’ve created this dashboard to make all the resources I came across in the past few years publicly available so everyone can contribute to these critical topics. If you have an interest in something unique, such as looted artifacts in Egypt or asset tracing in India, create your dashboard, curate the resources and share the link with the community!
Curating resources for others subsequently leads to the final thing you can do to stay OSINT curious, namely sharing. There is nothing better than sharing your expertise and experiences in applying OSINT to a topic that matters to you. Learning is not a one-way street. In fact, you will only benefit from sharing your expertise and experiences. Being OSINT curious means to share and learn from each other. We have a fantastic OSINT community out there with experts from all around the world who are sharing their insights and decades of experience. So, if you want to stay OSINT curious, go over to Twitter and follow them.
In sum, to stay OSINT curious, just eat, drink and breath OSINT and then repeat. Happy OSINTing!