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OSINT stands for Open-Source Intelligence. Open-source intelligence is data that can be collected from publicly accessible sources on the surface, deep, and dark web. Examples of such OSINT sources are social media, forums, blog posts, news sources, articles, archives, interviews, and documents that can be freely accessed.

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Open-Source Intelligence is crucial for analysts and investigators to detect or investigate illegal activities such as fraud or money laundering. Since open-source intelligence is based on the collection and processing of information and data that are freely available, a vast amount of valuable data from a wide range of sources can be used for the analyses and investigations while complying with statutory data protection and privacy rules and regulations.

For open-source intelligence, analysts and investigators need OSINT tools for efficient data collection and processing while keeping their digital identity hidden. Depending on the purpose of their analysis or investigation, they might also use OSINT tools with geolocation capabilities or Natural Language Processing (NLP) when data is collected from social media and online forums in languages other than English.

An open-source intelligence (OSINT) tool allows an analyst or investigator to collect and process big data from OSINT sources. Such tools, such as the WEBINT platform of Cobwebs, can collect all related open-source information in real-time while events are unfolding to make informed decisions. This collecting capability also allows for analyzing the operation afterward and update case details.

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Web Intelligence (WEBINT) is the process of collecting, processing, and analyzing large volumes of web data to provide intelligent insights for businesses, security agencies, financial institutions, government agencies, and private sector organizations. WEBINT provides critical clues and information regarding the activities of person and groups online for e.g., criminal investigation processes, terror prevention, national security enforcement, business operational productivity, fraud prevention, and threat prevention – all through learning about online users’ activities on the surface, deep and dark web.

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Cyber forensics is the discipline that combines elements of law and computer science to collect and analyze data from computer systems, networks, wireless communications, and storage devices in a way that is admissible as evidence whether during an investigation inside any organization or in a court of law.

Digital forensics is the discipline that combines elements of law and computer science to collect and analyze digital data. The process includes examining and analyzing the collected data for closing a case. Apart from law enforcement, cyber forensics is also used for electronic discovery, commercial digital forensics, and incident response.

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Digital forensic technology encompasses advanced technological solutions to retrieve and analyze large and complex web data sets for investigations. An example is mage forensics technology that extracts and analyzes collected metadata of an image file for clues.

In general, forensic science is used to help investigators solve cases. Several sciences can be applied for different cases, including biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and computer science. In the case of digital forensics, OSINT tools are used to capture and analyze data, including cataloging and indexing metadata, to maintain evidence-based presentation.

Digital forensic tools help investigators to retrieve and process online data in a secure, efficient, and lawful manner. Digital forensic tools have the capacity to collect data from a wide range of sources and provide dark web monitoring services. These tools allow investigators to monitor the deep and dark web and identify cyber threats coming from all layers of the internet, as well as generate user alerts when significant information is identified. Digital forensic tools can also collate this information into reports which can be used for actionable insights or evidence in trials.

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Digital forensics is a multidisciplinary effort that embraces several fields, including law, computer science, finance, networking, data mining, and criminal justice. Professionals are facing a mixed set of challenges and issues regarding the efficiency of digital evidence processing and related forensic procedures. Recent innovations are digital forensic tools powered by AI and encompassing ML and NLP smart algorithms to create an automated process of collecting and analyzing vast amounts of web data.

The internet is increasingly used by terrorist organizations to contact and inform members, spread propaganda materials, coordinate attacks, and fund operations. This poses a huge challenge to law enforcement and government agencies due to the level of technical knowledge required in investigations and cross-border access to electronic evidence.

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