Open source intelligence, or OSINT, is defined by the ability to gather data (or intelligence) from documented sources that are accessible to the public. The “open” aspect refers to the information being observable and unconcealed from the international community. Basically anyone with a computer can have access to this information or intelligence. People research this intelligence by way of different media sources, such as TV, newspaper, radio and internet, to name a few.
Open source intelligence is now being used by businesses, large and small, to gather information about their competitor’s products, clients and every other component related to the business. This is what is known as competitive intelligence, or business intelligence. In order to get on top and stay on top, companies have to prepare well-planned marketing tools to boost their recognition in the business world. OSINT is a great means for businesses to use because it is legal. There are illicit methods of intelligence gathering on the dealings of competitors, but going that route would look bad for your company.
The use of OSINT also aids in seeking out and locating any possible signs of liabilities and favorable circumstances in the business field. For marketing purposes, it is important to determine these signs of intelligence prior to them being noticeable. That way, any company that has the specific marketing intelligence in hand will be a step ahead of its competitors.
Reverse image search is one method defined by OSINT. Reverse image searches can be done by looking up a picture on the internet through a search engine, such as Google. Instead of searching by key words, you upload the picture in the search field. With this technology, one can find a certain product on the internet and then determine where it was originally placed. That would lead the researcher back to the original manufacturer, or company which created the product in question. OSINT used in this way allows you to cut out the middle man.
OSINT also serves companies in a positive manner by providing them with the ability to search for websites which use identical AdSense or analytics accounts. At these websites, you can search for other competitor companies by domain name, IP address, email or ID. With this service, you can find out what company or person owns the rights to certain companies, businesses, products and domain names on the internet and connect the dots. This can be particularly useful when investigating a website which has concealed its registrant details as a link could be drawn between the analytics and AdSense accounts connected to the website leading to a positive ID.