Open Source Intelligence

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) refers to information derived from journals, newspapers and the media to boost the actionable intelligence of an organization. OSINT involves the collection of data from relevant public sources and systematic analysis of this information (George, 2005). OSINT is expensive but necessary for an organization. This paper discusses how to set up an OSINT function for an organization given an unlimited budget.

The first step in setting up an OSINT function is reconnaissance. This involves identifying the possible sources of information for the organization. Sources of information include newspapers, internet, journals, radio and television. The information from these sources must be relevant and related to the core business of the organization. Once reconnaissance is done, vulnerability analysis is done. This involves setting up networks and assessing vulnerability of the data.

There are tools available for setting up OSINT. These include metagoofil, which is a tool for gathering information designed to extract public documents’ metadata. Other tools include netglub, maltego and exiftool.  The following table can be used in OSINT classification considerations.



Information source

Collection means

Source metadata

Collector metadata

Collected information

Intelligence report



Classified or controlled unclassified

Classified or controlled unclassified

Classified or controlled unclassified information

Classified or controlled unclassified







controlled unclassified


Classified controlled

Unclassified or



Classified or controlled unclassified

In order to complete an OSINT mission, there are some basic personnel or departments that are involved (Johnson, 2007). One of these is command and control, which provide management and directions of the whole process. Collection department gather information from available public sources using data collection tools. Processing department transform the collected data into a form that understandable to information analysts. Finally, personnel in the production department transform the information into intelligence. This intelligence is used by the organization to undertake its operations effectively. 

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