OSINT Information Gathering Types#

There are a variety of sources that can be used for OSINT information gathering, including but not limited to social media, search engines, and public databases. While each source has its own strengths and weaknesses, they can all be used to collect valuable data. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most popular OSINT information gathering methods and the importance of privacy during the open intelligence collection process.

Information Gathering Types#

OSINT can refer to persons, government bodies, commercial businesses, or a piece of software. There are three approaches for gathering OSINT sources: passive, semi-passive, and active. The three collection strategies are commonly used to explain how we obtain technical information about the target IT system.

Passive data compilation: Remember that the primary goal of OSINT collecting is to obtain details about the subject using only publically accessible resources. In this case, your target is unaware of your information-gathering efforts.

This type of analysis is extremely untraceable and should be conducted in private. Technically, this method of collection discloses minimal information about the subject because no communication is sent to the destination server The primary materials available in the passive collection are confined to archival information. These forms of data are generally obsolete and unencrypted, and they are left on target systems.

Semi-passive data compilation: This method involves sending minimal network activity to destination systems to obtain public details about them. The traffic attempts to mimic normal Internet traffic in order to avoid attracting attention to your recon efforts. In this manner, you are merely gently researching without raising any concern on the target’s part. Even though this form of collection is regarded as somewhat anonymous, the target might be aware of it if they examine the matter. The server or networking device records may be examined by your target. They should not, however, be able to correlate it to your system.

Active Data Compilation: In this style, you engage with the target system directly in order to gain intelligence about it. Because the OSINT actor gathering information will utilize advanced ways to gather technical specifications about the target infrastructure, the target may become conscious of the recon activity. Accessing open ports, scanning vulnerabilities, evaluating unpatched Windows systems, inspecting web server software, and so on are all part of the active gathering. Such traffic will appear to be an unusual or malevolent activity, leaving evidence on the subject’s IDS or IPS solutions.

Social engineering is another sort of active information collection.

Importance of privacy in OSINT activities#

We may leave a trail when performing OSINT analysis. Always keep in mind that OSINT collecting should be done privately to prevent disclosing the researcher’s identity.

Lastly, let’s take a look at how to enhance our privacy better with some cybersecurity skills.

How to enhance the OSINT data collection phase?#

There are some factors that improve an OSINT effort’s success such as the following:

  • You should know clearly about the different types of cyber risks and how to avoid them, how to anonymize online communications, and how to exchange online information privately.

  • You should also be familiar with online tracking techniques such as digital fingerprints, and cookies. You must know how to check your computer’s digital fingerprint to expose the least information to the public before gathering OSINT.

  • Additionally, you should ensure that you are browsing securely, ideally using a VPN, using dedicated accounts, and cleaning virtual machines along with exploring TOR’s benefits in enhancing your anonymity.


In this blog page, we have looked at basic OSINT information gathering types, the importance of anonymity, and which skills may be beneficial in the OSINT gathering process. The essence of OSINT is open source and passive information gathering. So we should stick with passive collection techniques and learn to secure our privacy while conducting these methods.

See also

Want to learn practical Open-Source Intelligence skills? Enrol in MCSI’s MOIS - Certified OSINT Expert Program