Week in OSINT #2021-42

Another weekly overview with some nice topics, like a note-taking tool that can visualize the structure of the information. Curious? Then read on!

It was a great week for me personally, at work and OSINT-wise. Lots of interesting information, meetings with interesting people, and some great links shared online for this newsletter. And I'm really keen on trying out the free tool that's featured at the end of this newsletter, Obsidian:

  • OpenSanctions
  • WEBGAP Browser Isolation
  • Visualize Telegram Group Members
  • HostSpider
  • Interview
  • Syria Report
  • Obsidian

Site: OpenSanctions

Twitter user OSINT_Research pointed me towards a project called OpenSanctions. The project gathers different lists, like companies that are on a sanction list, people that are banned by governments, people on most wanted lists and more. They provide data sets in TXT, CSV and JSON format. Little warning about the JSON layout: It's in a line-delimited JSON format. So parsing it as normal JSON won't work without some adjusting. A very nice project, that offers a unique, one-stop-shop for this type of information.

Example of a dataset within OpenSanctions
Example of a dataset within OpenSanctions

Link: https://opensanctions.org

Tool: WEBGAP Browser Isolation

Secjuice tweeted last week that they struck a deal with WEBGAP to give OSINT investigators a 12-month free account on their cloud based 'remote browser' platform. This US based company offers several packages, including the option to host your own remote desktop. They claim they don't log any traffic, nor do they track any usage of the remote browser. I still would like to offer the general warning: When using third party services, whether it's a site, web-based tool or anything the likes, there's always an extra company involved in your investigation, and the data that's being processed. So be aware of that when researching sensitive topics.

Link: https://www.webgap.io

Tutorial: Visualize Telegram Group Members

Danish company OS2INT wrote a tutorial on how to create visual representation of Telegram group members in Gephi. With this step-by-step tutorial they explain how to scrape Telegram group members, create lists, and import it all into Gephi. With a simple Python tool, a spreadsheet and the open source tool Gephi, it's within everyone's reach to create simple, and stunning graphs that pinpoint what group members are playing key roles into larger groups by highlighting their connections. Besides this great article, don't forget to visit other blog posts they created.

Image by OS2INT
Image by OS2INT

Link: https://os2int.com/toolbox/...

Tool: HostSpider

Cyber Detective shared a new tool, that gathers information on domain names. It grabs the Whois info, crawls subdomains and more, after which it generates an HTML report with all the relevant information. It's lightning fast, and looks pretty complete too. I haven't checked with other services to see how complete the subdomain lists are, but I usually check several sources and use multiple tools, just so I don't miss something interesting. Very impressed with this tool, thanks for sharing!

Diving into Medium.com's online presence
Diving into Medium.com's online presence

Link: https://github.com/h3x0crypt/HostSpider

Article: Interview

Talking about Cyber Detective, there's an interview with Maciej Makowski, also known as osintme.com on Twitter. The story sounds overly familiar to me, looking for public sources myself decades ago, growing up when the internet was merely starting. Lovely interview, with lots of links and tips for investigations regarding Russian entities. Keep up the awesome work you do, Cyber Detective, and keep on sharing those cool links!

Link: https://www.osintme.com/...

Article: Syria Report

Last week I wrote about the Syrian datasets, and OpenFacto has been diving into the Syrian war, and especially into the supply chain of their chemical program. Last week, they published their findings. And a lengthy, 149 page long document, is available on their Google Drive.

Link: https://openfacto.fr/...

Tool: Obsidian

While listening to a talk last week, the tool Obsidian was mentioned. And I simply had to include the tool in this newsletter. It's not just a simple Markdown editor, but it's a wiki-style knowledge base tool, using Markdown to create hierarchical files with information, by links or hashtags. And not just that, it can even visualize every bit of information that you wrote down! The learning curve might be a bit steep, especially if you're not used to using Markdown, but looking at the possibilities, this is an open source tool you really should give a try.

Mapping out TOCP members in Obsidian
Mapping out TOCP members in Obsidian

Link: https://obsidian.md

Have a good week and have a good search!

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