Recently I started down a rabbit hole learning more about OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) gathering. As a student in cyber-security, I am always learning and wanting to learn more about privacy and protecting our identity online. During my search, I stumbled upon a couple of podcasts one of them was Smashing Security (https://www.smashingsecurity.com/) and the other was The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show (https://soundcloud.com/user-98066669). The second one got me into learning more about OSINT while I am between classes and transferring schools.
There are a lot of things and ways you can search online, one of the most popular search engines is Google, there are others out there like Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and several others. During my learning I came across a couple of other guides to searching, I will include the links to those at the bottom of the page.
Everyone has searched Google or one of the other engines for information, lets’s explain and learn some of the options available to narrow down your search.
- Search term, while you can search for things like Steve Jobs; your normal results treat each word as its own. Your results will not only return sites with the phrase Steve Jobs but also sites with Steve or Jobs. By putting quotes around it like “Steve Jobs” has Google or your search engine of choice search it as a phrase. Not separate words; this can come in handy filtering out sites that just have the name Steve on them.
- The use of “or” and “|” (the pipe operator); using this in a search like “Steve or Jobs” will return results with either word on the site but not always both words on the site. This is similar to the next one in line.
- Using the “and”; for example “Steve and Jobs” will return results not necessarily the phrase but with the words “Steve and Jobs” anywhere together or separate on the page. And along with or can be used separately or together while searching.
- Steve and Jobs: return sites with both but not always together.
- Steve or Jobs: Returns sites with but not always both.
- Steve and Jobs or Apple: Returns sites with Steve and Jobs both or Apple.
- The * wildcard can be handy when searching terms or names that you don’t know the complete term. Giving you results matching any word or phrase in the middle. For example: Steve * Apple
- () Can be used to group terms, when searching; because most search engines execute from left to right the same as we read. Using these can help group a term together; for example: (ipad OR iphone) apple would return results with either Ipad or Iphone but also include the word apple on the site.
- Using $, or the sign for your currency; returns prices. For example: Ipad $395
- Using the term “define:”; simply defines the word you’re searching for. For example: “define:OSINT”
- Using the term “filetype:”; and a specific file extension can return files of that type. For example: filetype:pdf will only return PDF documents. Another version is the “ext:” option; for example: “ext:pdf” does the same thing.
- Using “site:” returns results from a specific site. For example, you wanted to search a name on twitter or reddit. Using “site:reddit.com” would return only results from reddit.com
- “Related:” Is similar to the site but returns results related to a given domain. For example: “related:apple.com”
- “intitle:” Returns pages with keywords in the title of the page. A good example is “intitle:apple”; returns sites only with the word apple in the title.
- “allintitle:” is similar to “intitle:” but used to specify multiple words. For example: allintitle:apple iphone
- “inurl:” again is similar to intitle and allintitle; however it searches the URL for the sites. For example: “inurl:apple” returns only things with apple in the URL of the site. A similar one as well is “allinurl:” made for searching multiple words in the URL; same as allintitle.
- “intext:” and “allintext:” is both used with a single or multiple word search; looking at only the text on the sites. This returns the search terms only within the text of the site.
- “around (X)” can how the terms are arranged on the site. For example: “apple AROUND(4) iphone” means they need to appear within 4 words of each other.
- As it sounds “Weather:” is just what it is, it gives you the weather in a specific city.
- “in:” Converts one unit of currency, weight, temperature, etc. to another. For example: “$329 in GBP”
- “Source:” find results from certain news sources.
While search engines remove and add different operators all the time; I can not be responsible if one of these doesn’t work after a while. You’re welcome to comment on the post and let me know so I can update them.
Along with these, there are hundreds more options out there. I have included some of the links to other sites below, one of the guys I have been watching lessons from is Heath Adams; he has some very good content online and while some are paid; others are free. Do your due diligence and verify who’s teaching any courses you’re taking or videos you’re watching. There is a ton of information out there; while some are from less creditable sources, others are from very creditable sources.
Author: Traver Yates 8/13/2022; as always, you can find more information about me here: https://www.wickedyoda.com/about/