Linux ProjectX

Open Source and Intelligence

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Image Courtesy of Opensource.org

Having finally converted to Linux Ubuntu operating system, 95% of all the programs I am currently using are open source (except Skype) and 100% are free available – meaning that my fully furnished laptop is running on zero Euro cost.

The principle of Open Source should be clear to most of you my dear audience. For those who are not familiar: open source means that the code in which a computer program/ application is written in, is publicly available. That hast the advantage, that a large community can work on bugfixes and improvements to this program. Furthermore, there will be no backdoors / hidden analytical parts encoded in the program which delivery unwanted private data to the company.

The inspiration for my article however is the offer from a university to pursue my Ph.D in International Politics on the topic of ‘Cyberwarfare and the Implications for the Nation-state’ (still looking for a more sexy title). In that context, I was skimming through my digital notes in order to organise my project and see of which excerpts I still can make use of. In the process I stumbled upon the term OPENINT.

What is OPENINT? It stands for Open Intelligence and comes from Intelligence and Statecraft Studies within Strategic Studies (Political Science). OPENINT describes the method within intelligence services to gather information which are publicly available (mainly on the Internet). Due to recent studies in this field, it is obvious that OPENINT importance increases. OPENINT does however not only mean to rely on GoogleMaps for military practice (and accidentally invading another country). In this regard, Intelligence Services and Stalker are not very different (therefore, some of my friends would make great agents ;)). If you want to find out something about someone the easiest way is to go online and type hos or her name as string into a search engine. Then you go down to Social Networks etc. Normally, you are able to gather some basic information about that person already. Enough information however to start a social engineering scheme (e.g. If you found out friends, working place etc) or simply cracking the email account (by knowing the address or even the answer to the secret question, right Sarah?). Both will lead to even more information, is based on OPENINT but not within the sphere of open source anymore.

The value of information freely available on the Internet is huge, you just have to have the skills to make use of it!

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