04 Aug 2023

Why Law Enforcement Needs OSINT Tools

Maltego Team

Intelligence is driven by data—this means that the more information you have, the better your chances of distilling accurate and comprehensive intelligence. Robert Litt, former General Counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) notes, “If you want to look for needles in a haystack, you first have to have a haystack.”

By embracing open source intelligence (OSINT), you gain access to large haystacks where you can find plenty of needles. OSINT investigations are a crucial method for law enforcement to gather information and evidence because most crimes nowadays leave digital traces. These digital pieces of information either serve as evidence or provide the critical context that leads to evidence.

What is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) 🔗︎

Mark Lowenthal, Former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis (CIA), defines OSINT as “any and all information that can be derived from overt collection: All types of media, government reports and other documents, scientific research and reports, commercial vendors of information, the Internet, and so on.”

Lowenthal, Mark M. (2005),Open-Source Intelligence: New Myths, New Realities", in George, Roger Z; Kline, Robert D (eds.), Intelligence and the national security strategist: enduring issues and challenges, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, ISBN 9780742540392.

In this whitepaper, we will look at why law enforcement needs OSINT tools and how having the right OSINT tools brings immense value.

Table of Content 🔗︎

OSINT for Law Enforcement Is Important in Setting the Scene for Investigations 🔗︎

Context is extremely important in any sort of criminal investigation. Joseph Nye, Former chairman of the National Intelligence Council compares OSINT to the outer edges of a jigsaw puzzle, which gives a sense of boundaries and patterns. OSINT is extremely useful for helping put secret information into a wider context.

Source: Lowenthal, Mark M. (2023): Intelligence. From secrets to policy. Ninth edition. Thousand Oaks California, ©2023: Sage/CQ Press.

One type of context that OSINT helps establish is the provision of leads or starting points for investigations. Law enforcement often relies on subpoenas and online platforms to give them initial starting data, however, OSINT tools can provide similar data or in some cases, even more. For example, you can pull the domain registration information of a suspect website, which leads to a person of interest (the domain registrant) who can then be investigated further.

Another type of context that OSINT establishes is the behavioral pattern of a person—information beyond typical governmental records like date of birth and city of residence. For example, you can investigate the social media activities of a person of interest to understand their “character” —social motivation, cultural background, relative age, interests, and more.

The social groups they join, the pictures they share, the locations they visit, and the comments they both write and respond to—all are signals which can be used to anticipate their motivations, their plans, and the danger they may pose.

OSINT Is Extremely Valuable in Identifying Potential Threats 🔗︎

Monitoring online activities is an active approach to using OSINT in order to gain insights into criminal activities, and to take action to prevent potential threats and risk of danger.

The dark web, for instance, contains a wealth of information because criminals are drawn to its features of anonymity and encryption. For example, law enforcement is able to monitor dark web forums for users looking to purchase a weapon and then pivot to those who respond positively to the post.

Similarly, monitoring social media platforms or online messaging boards can also help prevent crimes. For example, in the recent Capitol Storming in the United States, OSINT played a critical role both after and during the incident.

Of course, OSINT does not guarantee 100% accuracy and is susceptible to misinformation and disinformation. However, as Mark Lowenthal said, OSINT may be more difficult to manipulate given its diversity.

Download This Whitepaper to Learn Why Law Enforcement Needs OSINT Tools in Their Investigations! 🔗︎

These are just a couple of examples of how OSINT can facilitate and contribute to investigations in the context of law enforcement. In the whitepaper, we also cover:

  • OSINT Is Proven to Be Useful in Many Law Enforcement Cases
  • The Right OSINT Tool Can Solve Common OSINT Challenges
  • Get the Most out of Your OSINT Tools by Understanding Your Data

OSINT can help law enforcement keep track of criminal activities, identify potential threats as well as reveal and hunt down the true culprits. In order to achieve this, an OSINT tool is required.

Download it now and get to know more about how OSINT is used in the real-world scenario, what the criteria are when selecting an OSINT tool, and last but least, how to leverage OSINT to the fullest in investigations.

Download the resource

DE +49
Albania +355
Algeria +213
Andorra +376
Angola +244
Anguilla +1264
Antigua And Barbuda +1268
Argentina +54
Armenia +374
Aruba +297
Australia +61
Austria +43
Azerbaijan +994
Bahamas +1242
Bahrain +973
Bangladesh +880
Barbados +1246
Belarus +375
Belgium +32
Belize +501
Benin +229
Bermuda +1441
Bhutan +975
Bolivia +591
Bosnia and Herzegovina +387
Botswana +267
Brazil +55
Brunei Darussalam +673
Bulgaria +359
Burkina Faso +226
Burundi +257
Cambodia +855
Cameroon +237
Canada +1
Cape Verde +238
Cayman Islands +1345
Central African Republic +236
Chile +56
China +86
Cote d'Ivoire +225
Colombia +57
Comoros +269
Congo +242
Cook Islands +682
Costa Rica +506
Croatia +385
Cuba +53
Cyprus +90392
Czech Republic +42
Denmark +45
Djibouti +253
Dominica +1809
Dominican Republic +1809
Ecuador +593
Egypt +20
El Salvador +503
Equatorial Guinea +240
Eritrea +291
Estonia +372
Ethiopia +251
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) +500
Faroe Islands +298
Fiji +679
Finland +358
France +33
French Guiana +594
French Polynesia +689
Gabon +241
Gambia +220
Georgia +7880
Germany +49
Ghana +233
Gibraltar +350
Greece +30
Greenland +299
Grenada +1473
Guadeloupe +590
Guam +671
Guatemala +502
Guinea +224
Guinea-Bissau +245
Guyana +592
Haiti +509
Honduras +504
Hong Kong +852
Hungary +36
Iceland +354
India +91
Indonesia +62
Iran, Islamic Republic of +98
Iraq +964
Ireland +353
Israel +972
Italy +39
Jamaica +1876
Japan +81
Jordan +962
Kazakhstan +7
Kenya +254
Kiribati +686
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of +850
Korea, Republic of +82
Kuwait +965
Kyrgyzstan +996
Lao People's Democratic Republic +856
Latvia +371
Lebanon +961
Lesotho +266
Liberia +231
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya +218
Liechtenstein +417
Lithuania +370
Luxembourg +352
Macao +853
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of +389
Madagascar +261
Malawi +265
Malaysia +60
Maldives +960
Mali +223
Malta +356
Marshall Islands +692
Martinique +596
Mauritania +222
Mauritius +230
Mayotte +269
Mexico +52
Micronesia, Federated States of +691
Moldova, Republic of +373
Monaco +377
Mongolia +976
Montserrat +1664
Morocco +212
Mozambique +258
Myanmar +95
Namibia +264
Nauru +674
Nepal +977
Netherlands +31
New Caledonia +687
New Zealand +64
Nicaragua +505
Niger +227
Nigeria +234
Niue +683
Norfolk Island +672
Northern Mariana Islands +670
Norway +47
Oman +968
Pakistan +92
Palau +680
Panama +507
Papua New Guinea +675
Paraguay +595
Peru +51
Philippines +63
Poland +48
Portugal +351
Puerto Rico +1787
Qatar +974
Reunion +262
Romania +40
Russian Federation +7
Rwanda +250
San Marino +378
Sao Tome and Principe +239
Saudi Arabia +966
Senegal +221
Serbia +381
Seychelles +248
Sierra Leone +232
Singapore +65
Slovakia +421
Slovenia +386
Solomon Islands +677
Somalia +252
South Africa +27
Spain +34
Sri Lanka +94
Saint Helena +290
Saint Kitts and Nevis +1869
Saint Lucia +1758
Sudan +249
Suriname +597
Swaziland +268
Sweden +46
Switzerland +41
Syrian Arab Republic +963
Taiwan +886
Tajikistan +7
Thailand +66
Togo +228
Tonga +676
Trinidad and Tobago +1868
Tunisia +216
Turkey +90
Turkmenistan +993
Turks and Caicos Islands +1649
Tuvalu +688
Uganda +256
United Kingdom +44
Ukraine +380
United Arab Emirates +971
Uruguay +598
United States +1
Uzbekistan +7
Vanuatu +678
Holy See (Vatican City State) +379
Venezuela +58
Viet Nam +84
Virgin Islands, British +84
Virgin Islands, U.S. +84
Wallis and Futuna +681
Yemen +967
Zambia +260
Zimbabwe +263

By clicking on "Access", you agree to the processing of the data you entered and you allow us to contact you for the purpose selected in the form. For further information, see our Data Privacy Policy.

We hope this whitepaper was helpful for you and your team to understand how OSINT plays a crucial role in law enforcement.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up to our email newsletter, so you don’t miss out on updates and news!

Happy investigating!

By clicking on "Subscribe", you agree to the processing of the data you entered and you allow us to contact you for the purpose selected in the form. For further information, see our Data Privacy Policy.