101+ OSINT Resources for Investigators

Directory of open source intelligence (OSINT) tools for online investigations, research, due diligence and background checks

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on May 27th, 2016

When researching investigative subjects, the first stop for an investigator is usually the internet. And while this is a great place to start, the sheer volume of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tools on the internet is staggering.

It’s important to have a plan and know where you are going to look before you begin mining for OSINT. And depending on what kind of information you are seeking, there are many online avenues, both free and paid-for, that you can take to get it.

What Are You Looking For?

First, you need to know what you are looking for. This can be as simple as an address, email address, phone number, IP address, location or marital status. Or it can be as complicated as company ownership, social activities and friends, political and/or spiritual leanings, financial status, places they go, or other personal details.

Knowing what information you are trying to find makes it easier to determine which websites, forums, directories, public information sources and other OSINT tools and resources to use.

Capture What You Find Through OSINT

The internet is fluid and what you find one day could be gone the next, so it’s a good idea to capture anything important immediately upon discovering it. Use your computer’s screen grab function or a program, such as Snagit or Camtasia to capture a still screen shot or a video of the information and store it in a folder with your digital evidence files (or in your case file if you are using case management software).

Browse through the extensive list of links below to see 101+ OSINT resources and tools for investigators. If you can think of any good ones we’ve missed, please let us know and we will add them.

 

Download our OSINT Links for Investigators cheat sheet to get an interactive PDF of all the links in this article.

General Open Source Intelligence Search

Many investigators like to start with a general search using a variety of search engines. Google is always a great place to start, but you’ll be surprised by the different results you get when you use different open source intelligence tools.

Mozbot

Oscobo (UK-based, doesn’t track users)

Peeplo

Qwant (doesn’t track users)

Soovle

Sputtr

StartPage (Google search, doesn’t track users)

Yahoo

Yandex

Yippy

Researching Interview Subjects

Watch an excerpt from Cynthia Hetherington’s webinar on using OSINT to research investigation interview subjects.

To watch the full webinar, click here.

Searching People

When using OSINT to search for a person, consider every possible variation of the person’s name. Include shortened versions of the person’s name, nicknames, usernames or any version of their name you think they might use.

You can also search someone by their telephone number, email address, physical address, an image or through articles that mention them.

What is Spokeo?

Searching Social Media and Dating Sites

Using OSINT, you can find not only a person’s profile, but also discover what they are talking about if they participate in online forums on social media platforms. Searching for secondary connections, such as friends, family members, colleagues and ex-partners can reveal a great deal of information about your target and is especially helpful if his or her security settings don’t allow access to profile information and timelines.

Many sites that are not specifically social media sites allow users to set up profiles, and these can be just as revealing as social media sites.

Searching Images and Video

Also search image and video social sites to find photos, videos and discussions related to them. You’d be surprised at how much information you can get from OSINT resources.

What is TinEye?

Online Communities and Blogs

Blogs, online communities and free domain hosting sites are all sources of OSINT and can be valuable repositories of information. Search these using names, usernames, email addresses and telephone numbers.

What is IceRocket?

Classified Listings

There are several reasons you might want to search classified listings as a source of OSINT in the course of an investigation. In a theft investigation, the target may be trying to sell a stolen item, or might be searching for similar items online. You can also gather information about buyers and sellers from classified listings, including location information.

Background Checks

Conducting background checks requires specific skills and knowledge of procedures and resources. The following links have been provided by Cynthia Hetherington. For more information visit http://www.hetheringtongroup.com.

Business Search Sites

When conducting due diligence investigations, or even researching a person you are going to interview in an investigation, it’s a good idea to conduct a search on a variety of OSINT business search sites. This list isn’t comprehensive, but you can use it to get started, then follow the trail.

Specialized and Deep Web Searches

There are many sites that are not mainstream, may be buried, hard to find or simply not indexed by general search engines. When you know what you’re looking for, you can dig deeper into your research by going directly to these sites.

GeoLocation Searches

A geolocation search can help you track a vehicle that has and Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS), identify the whereabouts of social media activity or identify the physical location of an IP address.

Creepy

Echosec (Social Media search by location)

Google Maps APRS

IP Location


Download our OSINT Links for Investigators cheat sheet to get an interactive PDF of all the links in this article.

Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.