Red Team Operations: Introduction to Open-Source Intelligence
What is OSINT?
From a red teamer’s standpoint, OSINT can be a useful tool for gathering information about a target organization or individual from the perspective of a red teamer. Vulnerabilities can be identified, attacks can be planned, and sensitive data can be accessed with this information. Red team members might use OSINT in the following ways:
- Determining the organization’s security posture and incident response capabilities
- Identifying potential phishing targets and social engineering opportunities
- Locating information that could be used to impersonate employees or authorized users
- Identifying employees and their roles within the target organization
- Mapping the organization’s physical and digital assets
- Identifying public-facing web applications and associated infrastructure
In general, OSINT allows red teamers to gain a deeper understanding of the target organization and its people, processes, and technology, which can be used to create more effective and realistic attack scenarios.
From the perspective of a red team, the OSINT procedure typically consists of several steps:
1. The collection’s scope and goals are defined as follows: The red teamer will need to decide what kind of data they want to collect and what their objectives are for doing so. They will be able to focus their efforts and ensure that the data they collect is pertinent to their requirements as a result of this.
2. Identifying potential information sources: The member of the red team will need to figure out where they can find the information they want. Websites, social media platforms, public records, and other online resources are examples of this.
3. Data collection and analysis: The red teamer must then obtain the identified sources’ information. When collecting data, they may employ either manual or automated methods. The red teamer will look at the data after it has been collected to find relevant information and patterns or trends that can be used to support their goals.
4. Outlining the results: The red team member will then need to make a concise and understandable presentation of their findings to the appropriate stakeholders. Typically, this will include a summary of the most important findings and any pertinent data or evidence to back up their conclusions.
5. Monitoring continuously: Once the data has been gathered, it’s important to keep an eye on the sources for any relevant updates or changes that could affect the target organization’s security posture.
It’s important to note that the procedure might look different and call for different methods and tools depending on the size and complexity of the target. The Red team member must also take into account the legal and moral implications of the information collection and use.
Red team members can use a variety of OSINT tools to gather and evaluate information from publicly accessible sources. Some common instruments include:
- Tools for scraping the web: Red teamers are able to automatically extract information from websites and other online resources thanks to these tools. Parsehub, Beautiful Soup, Grep.app and Scrapy are examples.
- Web search engines: Search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo are tools that red teamers can use to learn more about their targets. They can also refine their search results and locate specific types of information by utilizing advanced search operators.
- OSINT Google Hacking (https://www.osintguru.com/blog/osint-google-hacking)
- Tools for scraping social media: Red teamers can use these tools to get information from social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Maltego, Social-Engineer Toolkit (SET), and Ghost Project are examples.
- Social-Engineer Toolkit Guide – (https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/how-to-install-social-engineering-toolkit-in-kali-linux/)
- Tools for network scanning and reconnaissance: Red teamers can use these tools to learn more about a target organization’s network and infrastructure. Nmap, Nessus, and Metasploit are examples.
- Tools for web archives: Red team members can use these tools to access older versions of websites and other online resources. The Wayback Machine and Archive.org are two examples.
- Using Archive.org for OSINT investigations (https://osintcurio.us/2021/03/03/using-archive-org-for-osint-investigations/)
- Data visualization tools: Red team members are able to present their findings in a clear and concise manner thanks to these tools. Maltego, Gephi, and Tableau are examples.
- Maltego OSINT Intro (https://warnerchad.medium.com/maltego-osint-tool-intro-a37d9e8bd775)
Even though red teamers frequently make use of these tools, they must be used in accordance with legal and ethical guidelines and with permissions that are appropriate. In addition, a red teamer ought to have a solid comprehension of the instruments they are utilizing, their capabilities, and the information they are able to extract.
How can I protect my organization from OSINT?
There are several tips that organizations can follow to improve their information security when it comes to OSINT:
- Conduct regular OSINT assessments: Organizations should regularly assess the information that is publicly available about them and identify any sensitive or confidential information that could be used by an attacker.
- Limit the amount of sensitive information shared online: Organizations should be careful about the information they share online and limit the amount of sensitive or confidential information that is available to the public.
- Implement strict access controls: Organizations should implement strict access controls to protect sensitive information and limit the number of individuals who have access to it.
- Use encryption: Organizations should use encryption to protect sensitive information and ensure that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals.
- Monitor for data breaches: Organizations should monitor for data breaches and take action to quickly contain and mitigate any breaches that occur.
- Train employees on information security: Organizations should train their employees on information security best practices, such as not sharing sensitive information on social media and identifying phishing attempts.
- Be aware of your legal obligations: Organizations should be aware of their legal obligations regarding data privacy and protection and take steps to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Be proactive about removing personal data: Organizations should proactively seek out and remove personal data, if possible, from any publicly accessible sources, especially if it is not necessary for the business operations.
These tips can help organizations to better protect sensitive information and reduce the risk of data breaches, but it’s important to remember that information security is an ongoing process and requires continuous monitoring and updating.