Understanding the OSINT Cycle

Understanding the OSINT Cycle
The OSINT Cycle: Getting familiar with the process of data collection and analysis | Day3 of 30DaysOfOSINT

The main aim of writing this blog is to making people familiar with the OSINT cycle.

What is OSINT Cycle ?

As we have understood that OSINT is all about collecting information that is publicly available, analyzing it and making informed decisions based on it. All these processes are divided into stages which are organized in a format in order to get the best results in a very fast and efficient way, is called as The OSINT Cycle.
In simple words, OSINT Cycle is a structured approach that is used by intelligence professionals and analysts to collect, process, analyze and present the final results.

The OSINT Cycle, designed by Dheeraj Yadav

Everyone has different opinions about OSINT Cycle and stages it can be divided into, but i divide the OSINT cycle in 5 processes which are explained as following:

  1. Preparation : This is the first phase of OSINT cycle. Here, we first decide and specify the needs and requirements such as defining what are the objectives, what data we are expecting to be found, what would be the best possible sources to be used, what tools we should prefer to use for saving time, etc.
  2. Collection : This is the 2nd and initial phase of OSINT cycle. Here, the raw data is gathered from all publicly accessible sources including social media sites, news websites, blogs, government records and all other publicly accessible sources not limited to online sources. Here, we use both manual and automated, both the approaches to gather the data and maybe a mix of both too.
  3. Processing : This is the 2nd phase of OSINT cycle. Once raw gathered is collected in the preparation phase, now the information is processed to check its reliability and authenticity. Here, we prefer to use multiple sources, tools and techniques to check the authenticity and reliability in order to minimizing the false positives. Once, data is filtered out, we arrange it in a proper format which is easy to read and use and we save this information to be used in further stages.
  4. Analysis : In this stage, the analysts starts examining the gathered data to find some meaningful information insights and patterns. It involves identifying and filtering out false positives, fake data, identifying trends, common anomolies, etc. We are allowed to use data visualization and other automation tools in this phase.
  5. Dissemintaion : Once the intelligence part is finished, the final report is shared with appropriate individuals and organizations that can use the information as per their need. Effective dissemination ensures that only the right people shall have access to the intelligence in a timely manner.

Why we need OSINT Cycle ?

Let’s now discuss why we really need the OSINT cycle:

  • Information Gathering: OSINT cycle allows us to specify all the possible ways of gathering information and expected results in the beginning itself, which reduces the chances of missing any critical information.
  • Cost-Effective: It makes the process of OSINT more cost effective than traditional intelligence as it relies completely on publicly availiale data.
  • Time Saving: It saves time as we do all planning in the initial phase so, we don’t have to think about the process again and again. Also, it decreases the chances of wasting by doing same tasks again and prevents us form wasting time on finding non useful information.
  • Competitive Advantage: A good execution of OISNT cycle can help you in getting a lot of competitive advantage like getting the work done in lesser time which attracts the individuals and organization to hire you instead of your competitor.

That’s it for today. In the upcoming blog, we will be learning about Active and Passive OSINT, uses of OSINT in real life along with examples.
If i missed something, let me know, so we can cover that topic or point in upcoming blogs.

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