There are a ridiculous amount of tools out there for intelligence. Some are better than others, and if you’re just getting into OSINT research, the last thing you want to do is have to dig through all of them to find the best ones, or the ones that are easy enough for you to start using out of the box. That’s where we come in.
Here’s the TOWR Guide for 6 OSINT Research tools – a list and handy infographic you can come back and refer to over and over. Take a look at the tools below and see what you think!
SocialMention is a tool that does exactly what you’d think. It searches across all manner of social media for mentions of a specific search term. What makes it interesting is that it gives far more than just a list of results. Here’s a small snippet of a search for “blacklivesmatter.” Keep in mind these are partial results.
As you can see, SocialMention keeps track of everything from how often the term is mentioned to the context and feeling it’s mentioned in. This helps take a temperature, so to speak, of the social media culture on that particular topic. It also offers everything from who, specifically, is talking about it to where they’re talking. It’s a great way to get a quick pulse on a keyword or phrase.
Along the same lines of SocialMention is AddictOMatic. This tool pulls information from a host of search engines and different sites on a topic and aggregates them all for you. Keeping our search on “blacklivesmatter” we see the following sources are available for search all at once. It’s not foolproof, and it’ll miss some results, but in terms of a quick and dirty search it’ll get you started.
Another great social media tool is SocialSearcher. It’s more complete than AddictOMatic and offers results from a different set of sites. SocialSearcher’s real power, however, is in the time and keyword analysis features. It shows not only where people are talking about your search term, but when. In addition, it offers related search terms. We see here that when we search for “blacklivesmatter” we also get related terms listed such as “blackchristmas” and even “#Black lives matter,” so you can even catch the results from people who don’t understand hashtags. 😉 You’ll notice that some of the terms showing have nothing to do with our search term; this is also normal. It shows what the people who talk about “blacklivesmatter” also talk about.
CheckUserNames is a very powerful search engine. You plug in a username, and then watch as it searches across 250 different websites to see where that username has an account. If you’re ‘hunting’ someone, and they use the same username across several websites (many people do), then you can find all the places where they frequent.
Obviously this requires some work. In the example (which is a tiny snip from the results), I used the username “patriot1”. The chances of the same person being patriot1 across the internet are next to zero. If you have someone whose username is their first and last name, or something specific to them, your chances of doing a successful search go up significantly. Once you have the list, you can go to each site and glean whatever bits about themselves they’ve left in their various profiles. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but then again, a lot of OSINT research is. Good thing the results can be so worth it.
Carrot2 is a visualization search engine. It offers search results collated into lists, foam trees, or circles (shown here). The nice thing is that it includes links from places like PubMed, Put, and even image engines. If you’re doing an image search and want to be able to grab related topics without having to perform 50 different searches, this engine is very good. There’s also a desktop version.
One Million Tweet Map
The last tool we’ll look at today is the One Million Tweet Map. Twitter, being real-time, is a great place to find out what’s going on RIGHT NOW. This site lets you pop in a search term or hashtag, and then shows you where the tweets are coming from on that topic. Since it’s also real-time (you can change that to pull from a timeframe up to 6 hours) it lets you stay up to date on a specific event or trend. In our example, this shows the clusters of tweets using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag from only the last 2 minutes. This can give you an idea when things start trending, or if an event is starting to ramp up.
These are only six of the many tools available. We’ll add more in later guides. For now, try them out and perform your own searches. Use them to pull information about your own AO, or about your nearest metro area, or even about people you need to find out about.
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