Best OSINT Tools in 2024: Categories and Reviews

April 15, 2024 · 12 min read

The internet is a goldmine of accessible information, but finding and combining data from various sources can be a daunting task.

That's precisely what OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) tools can do for you. These software solutions are game-changers for businesses, cybersecurity professionals, and investigators who need to mine data at scale.

In this article, we'll introduce you to the seven best OSINT tools, each excelling in its particular niche:

Read on!

What Are OSINT Tools?

OSINT tools help gather publicly available information and scale, as well as harvest and mine data in a way that enables future analysis. They’re indispensable for large organizations with massive data and cybersecurity demands, where manual research and analysis wouldn’t guarantee swift and competitive results.

Types of OSINT Tools

OSINT is a broad term, and so is the OSINT software market. We can divide OSINT tools into the following categories based on their purpose:

Discovery tools

Discovery tools help find new information about the entities of our interest. These may include search engines (yes, in the right hands, Google Search is an OSINT tool, too) or dedicated lookup tools and APIs (e.g., to find phone numbers, addresses, businesses, domains, security threats… the sky’s the limit, as long as the information is publicly available anywhere online).

Scraping tools

Web scraping tools help extract data from the web in a scalable, programmatic, and customizable way (you don’t always need all the information from the given source). With these tools, you’ll gather all the necessary information while avoiding common scraping hurdles, such as bans and blocks.

Aggregation and analysis tools

These tools mine the extracted data to allow for further analysis and processing. Reporting and analytics are often an added functionality of full-scale OSINT solutions, such as Maltego or Babel Street.

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OSINT Methods

There are two ways of approaching the intelligence-gathering process when working with OSINT tools:

Passive

The passive approach involves the standard search for information using publically available search engines. While this process is the most straightforward and unlikely to provoke detection or blocks, it’s also fairly ineffective. Searches must be performed manually, and it’s hard to drill down on specific subjects of investigation.

Active

This method involves obtaining specific data from a specific target to uncover the most information possible within legal bounds. However, even digging through information readily available through servers and APIs may still be perceived as a security breach attempt and cause a risk of detection and blocking. That’s why it’s crucial to remain anonymous while scraping, e.g., with proxies.

You can also combine the two approaches: use the internet to search for data, with some help from research or scraping software.

The Best OSINT Tools in 2024

Now that you know what OSINT tools are and what they can do, let’s review the top seven players in the OSINT market.

The tools below are divided into categories based on their purpose and use case. The list covers the most common applications of OSINT, such as investigation, cybersecurity, business intelligence, and general at-scale web scraping. While the ranking is not exhaustive, it should help you get the lay of the land in this busy niche and understand the scope and capabilities of OSINT solutions.

Best for Web Scraping: ZenRows

ZenRows
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Web scraping tools let you harvest data at scale, even from websites with challenging UI and advanced anti-block systems. Good software will let you extract data in a format that allows for further analysis and integrate it with the rest of your stack.

One of the best toolkits in this category is ZenRows, a powerful web scraping API. It’s armed with rotating proxies, headless browsers, anti-CAPTCHA features and more features that let you bypass any bots a site may throw your way.

ZenRows works with any programming language, including Python, NodeJS, Java, PHP, Go, and Ruby, and it is easy to integrate into your tech stack.

Pros:

  • Full anti-bot bypass.
  • Smart rotating proxies.
  • Customizable requests.
  • Auto-parsing.
  • 24/7 technical support.

Cons:

  • Not a complete OSINT solution.
  • Requires coding knowledge to use.

Use if:

ZenRows is a great choice for developers and other programming-savvy people conducting market research, price monitoring, business intelligence, or other activities that require harvesting data at scale.

Pricing:

ZenRows subscription starts at $49/month.

Best for Cyber Investigation: Maltego

Maltego
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General online investigation tools aim to automate and simplify complex investigations. Connecting millions of worldwide databases, they help uncover information and find links between data points in a systematic way that would be impossible to execute manually. They’re digital detectives that accelerate all kinds of investigative research.

The top tool in this category is Maltego, an open-source intelligence and graphical link analysis tool. Its specialty is collecting and linking information for investigative tasks. Maltego is a Java application that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The tool presents all the information on handy graphs showing up to one million entities and connections between them. This graphical representation makes it easy to spot patterns and search for specific data with advanced filtering options.

Maltego has many different use cases, spanning security professionals, researchers, investigators, and government entities. For example, Interpol uses Maltego for criminal investigations.

Pros:

  • Rich database (extra sources can be added via API).
  • Stellar data visualization.
  • Comprehensive OSINT solution.

Cons:

  • Low customizability.
  • Very high costs.

Use if:

You need a serious investigative OSINT tool for large-scale tasks, even those with high sensitivity (e.g., in the government sectors).

Pricing:

Maltego Pro, the plan dedicated to individuals and small teams, starts at $1.099,00/month. For other packages, you need to ask for a demo.

Best Search Engine: Shodan

Shodan
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While some OSINT tasks can be performed with popular search engines like Google, some require a deeper dig. Dedicated search engines help uncover data about specific categories (e.g., names, addresses, IPs) or go beyond websites to find other Internet-connected devices.

A great representative of this type of tools is Shodan, a search engine for the whole IoT ecosystem. It helps uncover information on various servers and cyber activities, such as IP addresses, geolocation, entity data, technologies, and more. Its flag feature is a smart network monitoring tool. Apart from the regular platform, Shodan also offers browser extensions.

Pros:

  • Fairly easy to use (operates similarly to a regular search engine).
  • Rich database.
  • In-tool reports and data analysis.

Cons:

  • Costly for larger plans.
  • Limited customization.

Use if:

You’re a professional monitoring network security. Shodan makes it easy to uncover all the connections and vulnerabilities.

Pricing:

Shodan offers a one-time $49 subscription for a very limited plan, and prices for a monthly subscription start at $69/month.

Best for Cyber Threat Intelligence: Intel471

Intel471
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Cyber threat intelligence tools help find ongoing and potential security breaches and attacks and proactively monitor vulnerabilities. These OSINT tools can map an organization's digital footprint to keep its infrastructure in check and protected.

One of the market leaders in this category is Intel471, a comprehensive cyber threat intelligence software. TITAN, its flagship SaaS platform, delivers actionable insights to uncover all organizational threats, including credential or marketplace intelligence. Intel471 also provides ASM (attack surface management), vulnerability management or threat detection solutions.

Notably, the platform incorporates a popular OSINT tool, Spiderfoot, encompassing over 200 different OSINT sources.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive cybersecurity solution.
  • Various data sources.
  • Low-code.

Cons:

  • Costly.
  • Low customizability.

Use if:

You’re a cybersecurity professional organization looking for a comprehensive solution.

Pricing:

Available upon request.

Best for Penetration Testing: Metasploit

Metasploit
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Penetration testing is a simulated attack on an organization’s system to evaluate and test its security. The dedicated software must first gather intelligence on the organization’s online presence to properly test its security levels.

Metasploit is a market-leading penetration testing tool that helps find vulnerabilities, manage security assessments, and improve security awareness. It’s an open-source framework with a bustling community, but it also cooperates with Rapid47. The company provides Metasploit’s paid, more advanced version (which includes, for example, a network monitoring solution or multiple automation options).

The tool works by enabling users to configure an exploit module, pair it with a payload, and launch it on their system of choice. The information can then be used to solve an organization’s security issues in an informed, well-prioritized way. Hackers can also use it to learn more about the companies’ systems, so it’s always best to stay one step ahead!

Pros:

  • Both reconnaissance and exploitation capabilities.
  • Large community.
  • Free version available.
  • High customizability.

Cons:

  • The more advanced version is paid.
  • Steep learning curve.

Use if:

You’re a security professional looking for a tried-and-tested penetration testing solution that won’t break the bank.

Pricing:

Open-source version available. You need to request a demo to learn the pricing of Metasploit Pro.

Best for Data Analysis: Babel Street

BabelStreet
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Some tools across the OSINT landscape focus on data analysis in addition to research and harvesting. Their goal is to automate the intelligence-gathering process as much as possible, turning the collected data into immediate action points. These tools are useful for large organizations, where the sheer data volume makes manual research and analysis nearly impossible.

Babel Street is a super powerful platform for discovering insights and presenting them in an analysis-ready format. It’s a threat intelligence market leader, boasting cooperation with global governments and law enforcement entities. From social networks to national security, Babel Street is a powerful tool for uncovering and monitoring data from multiple international resources. In fact, the platform cites having three billion+ data sources!

Pros:

  • Comprehensive data research and analysis solution.
  • Multi-language.
  • Scalable, many use cases.

Cons:

  • Very costly.
  • Enterprise- and government-oriented solution; most likely an overkill for SMB businesses.

Use if:

You’re looking for a large-scale data aggregation and analysis solution and want to fully automate the process.

Pricing:

Prices available upon request.

Best for Social Media Monitoring: Brand24

Brand24
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OSINT tools can be helpful for market analysis. For example, marketing teams can use them to monitor their competitors’ online presence. Doing it manually, especially in busy niches, is near impossible, and that’s where social listening tools come into play.

One of the best social media OSINT tools is Brand24, a leading social listening software. It lets you monitor brands, analyze sentiment, track mentions and discussions, and keep tabs on your and your competitors’ social presence. With built-in analytics, filtering, and handy exports, Brand24 is a comprehensive, reliable solution in its niche.

Pros:

  • A no-code solution.
  • Social media specialization (useful for marketing teams with a narrower scope for their research needs).
  • Easy integrations.

Cons:

  • Narrow scope of data.
  • Low customization options.

Use if:

You’re a marketing professional looking for a no-code solution to perform social listening and business intelligence.

Pricing:

Prices for Brand24 subscription start at $99/month.

Conclusion

The OSINT tools market offers a diverse range of solutions for various needs, from business intelligence and competitor analysis to cybersecurity and investigative research. This article explored top OSINT tools across different categories to provide valuable insights to guide your choice. Remember, some tools are open-source or offer free trials, allowing you to test and find the perfect fit.

While OSINT practices are legal, intensive data gathering can trigger website defenses. Without proper tools, you risk being blocked or banned. For seamless web scraping, consider ZenRows' comprehensive web scraping API. Start your free trial and experience hassle-free data extraction!

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