Open source intelligence (OSINT) is information that comes from publicly available sources. This type of information can be exploited, collected and disseminated to any audience.
For investigators or other individuals who need to collect background material on an individual, OSINT is highly useful. According to Michael Bazzell, a former FBI computer crime investigator and the author of several books on security, OSINT can be used to locate people or to conduct background checks or any online investigation.
Many names and addresses publicly available online
Websites such as Spoke.com, Radaris.com and Intelius.com allow users to search an individual’s name and address for free. These sites allow investigators to more easily use the information found on these sites to conduct background checks on potential employees, but are also used by criminals to find information for identity theft.
Use of OSINT to track down criminals
Although OSINT has its hazards in regard to personal privacy, it can also have crime-fighting implications. For example, some Reddit users have asked others to help them solve theft problems. Victims sought help identifying phone numbers, license plate numbers or other information that could be used to track down thieves.
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Dr. Kim Miller is an adjunct professor of criminal justice in the School of Security and Global Studies at AMU. Her academic credentials include a B.S. in Criminal Justice and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University, as well as a Ph.D. in Public Safety-Criminal Justice from Capella University. She is also a Certified Fraud Examiner, a New Jersey Licensed Private Detective and an investigative analyst.