What makes OSINT Methodologies Vital for Penetration Testing?
OSINT, or open-source intelligence, refers to the practice of collecting data from published or public sources which can be utilized from an intelligence perspective. According to the US Department of Defense, OSINT is “produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for addressing a specific intelligence requirement.”
In the current world scenario, OSINT operations, be it for IT security professionals, state-deployed intelligence operatives, or malicious hackers, make use of advantage techniques for searching through the vast pile of visible data in order to achieve their ultimate goals.
How is OSINT valuable for organizations? In several ways, OSINT functions as the mirror image for operational security (OPSEC). In simple words, it is the security process using which organizations safeguard their public data related to themselves and if revealed can cause serious damage. The Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Market is estimated to reach USD 11.86 Billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 17.4%
Over the past few years, a lot of IT security departments have tasked themselves with OSINT operations over their own organizations with the purpose to bolster operational security.
Main Functions of OSINT Tools
As per technology experts, OSINT can be termed vital for keeping a good check on information chaos. Presently, there are three main functions within OSINT that are fulfilled by IT operations. For carrying out such actions, you get to access a wide range of OSINT tools. Most of these tools are capable of performing all three functions, which are mentioned below.
Determine Public-Facing Assets
The most common function of OSINT is supporting IT teams in spotting public-facing assets. Furthermore, it also includes the mapping of information stored within that might lead to a possible attack surface. To be clear, they aren’t focused on things like performing penetration testing or program vulnerabilities. The primary task is to record the type of data someone could publicly search on or about the company’s assets without depending on hacking techniques.
Discover Appropriate Information from External Sources
A number of OSINT tools are involved in secondary functions such as looking for relevant information from sources outside an organization. These external sources include social media posts or specific domains & locations which are positioned outside a firmly defined network. This type of function is useful for organizations that have conducted recent acquisitions to bring in additional IT assets of the company with which they have carried out the merger.
Assemble Discovered Data into Actionable Form
There are several OSINT tools that are efficient in gathering all the discovered data into useful & workable intelligence. While conducting an OSINT scan focused on a big enterprise, you can expect hundreds of thousands of viable results, covering both internal and external assets. The benefit of joining all that information in a single model and sorting out crucial problems at the earliest can be quite useful.
OSINT and Penetration Testing
For most penetration testing service providers, OSINT has been the preferred methodology for carrying out pen-testing. It is analyzed that out of all threat intelligence sub-divisions, the inclination towards open-source intelligence has made it an extensively used option.
You cannot ignore the advantages reaped by security experts through open-source intelligence. It ranges from recognizing new vulnerabilities, fixing weaknesses within the organization’s network, and a lot more. With the presence of OSINT, security professionals can organize their time & resources for eliminating potential threats.
How Does OSINT Favor Pen-Testing Methodologies?
A penetration testing methodology is the blend of strategies, procedures, and technologies that empower testers to carry out successful penetration testing. These methodologies are prepared keeping in mind the organization’s requirements and the identified weaknesses for which security needs to be ensured. Some of the main operations within pen-testing methodologies include:
- Internal Testing- This type of testing benefits an organization to examine the amount of damage a displeased employee can cause
- External Testing– Analyze the visible assets of an organization which covers the company’s website, email, DNS, and web application
- Targeted Testing- Targeted testing covers the effort put in by both the penetration tester as well as the cyber-security professional to achieve a real-world response
- Blind Testing– The purpose of this test is to provide the security expert a real-world peek as to how a real application attack would occur.
- Double-Blind Testing– Under this test, the designated penetration tester stays unaware of the simulated attack, with no time to support their defenses before the intrusion occurs
The presence of open-source intelligence helps with penetration testing. For instance, security experts typically examine an organization’s network as well as a system for potential vulnerabilities which can be targeted by malicious hackers. Open-source intelligence (OSINT) assists the penetration tester to recognize security gaps such as data leaks, outdated software, unintended data exposure, open ports, etc.
Other advantages of open-source intelligence include:
Less Demanding Processes
OSINT has a less demanding exploitation process as compared to other technological intelligence disciplines. Similarly, open-source intelligence accumulates a cooperative selection of opinions as it effectively deploys an extensive variety of sources.
Protection of Sources
The operation of open-source reporting is capable of defending an intelligence judgment that is delivered using sensitive information. Such a method is valuable at the time when policymakers are required to communicate with foreign officials or elaborate policy decisions without giving up on classified resources.
With a strong open-source program, you gain the advantage of collecting valuable data for evaluating global cultures and concluding how these trends change over time. Or else the large set of data might be impossible to retrieve and process.
The power of open-source intelligence towards the correct implementation of pen testing cannot be ignored. As mentioned above, the benefit of quickly recognizing security gaps and vulnerabilities within the system using OSINT is allotted to penetration testing experts. For the success of a particular pen-testing methodology, OSINT works as an applicable instrument. It is better to stay in touch with a reliable security testing provider for better clarity associated with OSINT implementation for pen-testing activities. ImpactQA and its team of skilled professionals are trained in similar technological intelligence which can help your organization in multiple ways.
If you have a project ready to take the plunge, contact us right away!