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.
Make a plan and know where to look before you begin mining for OSINT. Are you looking for an address? Email address? Phone number? Political leanings or other personal details? 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.
If you don’t have time to browse this page now, download our OSINT Links for Investigators cheat sheet to get an interactive PDF of all the links in this article.
No matter which tools you use, remember to capture anything important immediately upon discovering it. The internet is fluid and what you find one day could be gone the next. Hunchly captures pages as you search, leaving a full audit trail that will hold up in court, even when the pages are long gone.
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.
General OSINT Search
Many investigators begin 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.
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 & Profiles
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.
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.
Conducting background checks requires specific skills and knowledge of procedures and resources. The following OSINT resources have been provided by Cynthia Hetherington. Visit her website for more information.
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.
Bitcoin and Blockchain Searches
Cryptocurrency transactions have been used for illicit transactions since the advent of the dark web. But, cryptocurrency transactions aren’t as private as many believe. If you’re looking to find a person’s Bitcoin wallet or a specific Bitcoin transaction, there are OSINT tools to help you do that.
Specialized and Deep Web Searches
There are many sites that are not traditional OSINT resources, aren’t 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.
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.