Offensive OSINT: Exploiting Social Media


A NATO affiliated research group published a report this week showing results of a test they conducted using OSINT.  They wanted to see how much they could influence real world NATO soldiers via social media manipulation. The three main questions the researchers posed were:

(1) What can be found out about a military exercise through open source data?

(2)  What information can be uncovered about soldiers from open source data?

(3)  Can this information be used to influence soldier behavior?

The test showed some staggering results. The research group managed to identify numerous soldiers, the locations of several battalions and to track troop movement.   They were able to collect personal data on soldiers including sensitive information like dating app profiles, and even to influence soldiers to engage in “undesirable behavior.”  This behavior including leaving their positions against orders. By using avatars (profiles that may use a fake identity) on social media, they managed to convince multiple soldiers to share sensitive information about themselves and about the military.

One of the researchers stated that influencing soldiers is all about finding the right button.

“Every person has a button. For somebody there’s a financial issue, for somebody it’s a very appealing date, for somebody else it’s a family thing. It’s varied, but everybody has a button. The point is, what’s openly available online is sufficient to know what that is.”

This research proves the capabilities and strength of open source analysis. Knowing how and where to find open source data is a great asset and when you learn to use this data to your advantage it can become one of the most important tools for understanding and acting against your adversary. The methods used by the researchers affiliated to NATO can be used by anyone.

Chameleon offers an offensive OSINT training that will teach you how to be the adversary. This includes learning how to find relevant open source materials, how to analyze these materials and how to use these materials to your advantage. You will receive tools and learn methods, some of which were used in the above-named study that will help you to construct a thorough open source analysis and assist you in understanding your adversary, as well as recognize when others are using open-source materials and avatars against you.

As the study showed, when someone knows how to find and collect the necessary open source materials it can become a powerful tool that can be used to influence and alter behavior.

Read more about OSINT

The Power of OSINT

Updating OSINT Cycles

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