OSINT democratization: It’s not just social monitoring

Today, the public and enterprises are losing trust in mainstream platforms, the fragmentation of the Internet is expanding, and the visibility of network assets, brand assets and cyber threats continues to decline, as digital social conflicts such as monopoly, network security, privacy disclosure and information cocoon continue to intensify.These trends have led more and more enterprises and individuals to focus on OSINT (Open Source intelligence) to improve their visibility and perception in the digital space.Gab, a popular social network among the US far right, made a name for itself during the US presidential election and Capitol riots in early 2021 (especially after Parler was taken down by tech giants).Gab aims to be more than just an alternative to social networks, says its founder, Andrew Torba.Torba has big ambitions. He wants to create a parallel economy, and creating a parallel Internet platform seems like a good place to start.Torba is not alone. Today, the fragmentation of the Internet has become irreversible as people become wary of and bored with mainstream Internet platforms (social and search), and online communities have sprung up to replace mainstream social networks.DuckDuckGo, a search engine that sells privacy, and Brave, a privacy browser, have both grown by leaps and bounds in the past two years.There is no doubt that “Internet separatism” is growing, with both the number of products and the number of users continuing to grow.Gab claims nearly 4 million unique visitors a month to its product platform.Every time major social media sites like Twitter and Facebook adjust their content moderation strategies, Gab’s user base grows exponentially.Another “driver” of today’s fragmented Internet is cybercrime.As governments continue to clamp down on centralized dark web markets and TOR, and more tech-savvy criminals favor decentralized dark web and mesh networks (like Lokinet and Yggdrasil), dark web communications and transactions have moved to different mediums, including IM platforms, automated stores and gated communities.Hackers are using these mediums to share secret intelligence about cyber intrusions, stolen data, compromised databases and other monetized cybercrime products.The fragmentation and “micro-isolation” of the Penguin Internet on iceberg makes it more difficult to retrieve and monitor the entire network.This is a brand manager, false information researchers, network security professionals, experts and scholars even one of the most headache problem: in today’s data explosion, trapped in the mainstream of social networking sites “cocoon room” of the people became the “blind” and “deaf”, can’t see, hear, no valuable information.To be sure, some of the niche social products mentioned above are not yet a threat to mainstream social platforms.Even if you include Gab peers like Natural News, CloutHub and Brighteon, the impact is limited.But it is important to note that these “alternative” networks are places where resentment, conspiracy theories and plans are nurtured.A lot of times, that information spills over into the mainstream web and then into the real world.This has implications not just for politics, but for business as well.Social monitoring services such as Brandwatch, Meltwater, NUVI and Synthesio, which focus on consumer analytics, have begun to dabbler in these alternative social networks, but these communities tend to be small, numerous, and identity-focused, making them less profitable for traditional brand crisis management monitoring.The challenges of social surveillance are not limited to the proliferation of alternative social networks.Conventional social monitoring services usually monitor only the “open Internet” that is accessible to browsers and urls — that is, the Internet that ordinary users can see. Unfortunately, the “open Internet” doesn’t even contain the tip of the Internet iceberg.A tiny penguin.The “open Internet” accounts for only 4% of the entire Internet (above), meaning that the so-called deep and dark Web contains about 500 times as much information as the “open Internet”.This is why OSINT is getting more attention.Democratization of OSINT Traditionally, monitoring the deep and dark web has been the job of security professionals.These people use OSINT tools to scout and scan prior to vulnerability assessment or penetration testing, which requires scarce skills that IT departments do not have.But this is changing and OSINT is “democratizing”.Platforms such as Echosec, Recorded Future and Skopenow are beginning to offer powerful search and analysis tools that provide access and insight across the breadth and depth of the Internet.Although these tools is still a bit expensive, but it can make your life easier for security team, expanding the scope of the task and improve skills can also make them value and productivity, that is, integration of OSINT open source tools platform can improve the efficiency of security personnel, without any increase in the case of a man’s hand to increase team’s quota.While vulnerability assessment and penetration testing will remain the primary responsibilities of corporate cybersecurity and investigation teams, OSINT tools can also support brand management, social public opinion monitoring, crisis response and disinformation defense.Non-technical users, such as business analysts, can conduct investigations with less reliance on experts.Even nonprofits like Bellingcat can use these tools to conduct independent investigations that might not have been possible in the past.The bottom line is that the Internet is becoming increasingly fragmented and fragmented.Misinformation and illegal activities tend to grow and ferment in the deeper, darker corners of the web.Businesses and individuals today urgently need to broaden and increase their visibility into the world of the Internet.Monitoring of the “open Internet”, even with the use of common social monitoring (public opinion analysis) services, is not enough to ensure security in this increasingly dangerous cyberspace, and OSINT’s “democratization” trend has become unstoppable.

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