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There are many paths to OSINT — one of them is through training programs and online resources! Aubrey and Shannon break down what’s available, what’s free (or not) to keep you abreast of how you can gain and further your OSINT skills.

Key resources (and the minds behind them)

AUBREY BYRON: What is the Wi Fi network of this person? How would I possibly know that? I can't know that. And sure enough.

[music plays]

SHANNON RAGAN: Welcome to NeedleStack the OSINT podcast. I'm your host, Shannon Ragan. 

AUBREY BYRON: And I'm Aubrey Byron, producer and co host. Today we're talking through some great resources for OSINT training. 

SHANNON RAGAN: And before we get into that, just a quick shout out to Cyber Marketing Society and Hacker Valley Media for hosting us in this lovely actual studio today.

SHANNON RAGAN: We're not. locked in our homes anymore. So great to be in this space. Yeah, it's lovely. So we wanted to talk about OSINT training today because in full transparency, we are not OSINT experts. We are OSINT aficionados. We love talking to the experts that we've gotten on this show. Revealed so many great tips, Tradecraft info, tools to use training programs as well.

SHANNON RAGAN: And we're actually going to get our hands dirty in some of these in 2024. So we've been looking into a lot of training programs, both in terms of cost advancement level certifications attached, things like that. So we're just gonna share our findings with you today. If you're also looking to improve your OSINT skills next year or this year, and 

AUBREY BYRON: I think it's such an important topic because there is no degree in OSINT. So many people come to it from so many different ways, us being one of them, two of them. So really figuring out how and where you can learn those skills is important. Yeah. 
SHANNON RAGAN: And then it changes all the time. Even if you've been doing this for 20 years, 10 years, five years, two years, like to go without training it.

SHANNON RAGAN: I think even for that amount of time, it seems an age in OSINT. 

AUBREY BYRON: Yeah, we are gonna get to some more advanced courses not just all things for noobs like us. Yeah, . 

SHANNON RAGAN: Okay. So I wanted to start today with one that I have signed up for and can't wait to start in 2024. It's my OSINT training. It's from Michael Hoffman, Griffin.

SHANNON RAGAN: Glenn, both former guests of the show as well as Lizette Techno. Abercrombie are the course leaders and there's a lot. in my OSINT training. So there's a couple of bundles you can take. There's the immersion course I think is 12 courses for about 400. This is really tapping my in depth knowledge of signing up, but again, beginner to advanced levels.

SHANNON RAGAN: There's also like an all OSINT bundles course that runs you about a thousand dollars. But gives you access to all types of things. If I check my list here, there are lots of SOCMINT stuff, deep dives into Facebook, and other platforms. If you're particularly interested in a certain social platform they have a course on sock puppets, which is important for using some of those platforms.

SHANNON RAGAN: And then other courses on OPSEC and privacy in general. Dark web. There's tons of stuff. I can't wait to dive in. Yeah. 

AUBREY BYRON: Micah is not just the best lit guest we've ever had on the show. He's also an incredible resource and formerly of OSINT Curious 

SHANNON RAGAN: Project. He was beautifully lit indeed. And just like a super nice guy, like even signing up.

SHANNON RAGAN: I didn't realize this. I was like emailing their support. Like it's Micah. It's like super helpful. I'm like, thank you. 

AUBREY BYRON: And yeah. And very. patient and generous with his knowledge. So I'm sure he'll make a great teacher as well. But there are also a lot of free resources. We all know GeoGuessr, but also Justin Charters is doing intelligence practices and challenges on LinkedIn.

AUBREY BYRON: If you follow him, there's. LinkedIn courses specifically on OSINT. Mike Wiley has one. If you have LinkedIn premium or want to do a trial of it, there's training groups that you can sign up for, especially, I think there's been a lot more OSINT resources on LinkedIn specifically in the past year as like new platforms emerge, it used to be.

AUBREY BYRON: More so Twitter X and now things are moving and I'll be curious to see if they pop up other places as well, but Sophia Santos or at Grail Hicks is her handle on YouTube has incredible in depth videos that go into very specific tactics and practices, platforms, deep diving into, especially as new platforms come out every day that researchers have to keep up with.

AUBREY BYRON: Yeah, there are lots of free resources and then there's some other great ones like, OSINT combine has incredible training courses. There's. Ways to put your knowledge to the test. Like the OSINT games capture the flag. So there's a lot of opportunities to get more hands on and study the theory.

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah, I think mentioning handles is important too. You were mentioning about discord and Belling Cat and just reaching out to the community. Like I just see so many like subreddit discussions of I need docent training, or I need certification in a certain thing. I don't have a lot of money to spend.

SHANNON RAGAN: So all those kind of caveats are great to learn from the community of like where to bit. Get the best resources for the right price.

AUBREY BYRON: Yeah. I, this is not a training thing, but I cannot recommend enough just lurking in the belly cat discord. They have talks there all the time. Now, some of their writers and journalists come on to speak about their research, but also they have similar to the case scenarios, discord actually just like in depth, channels on every social platform.

AUBREY BYRON: Conflict that you can just learn a lot about by reading about what's going on. 

SHANNON RAGAN: Another one that I want to talk about and this is more so if you've been in the field for a while, are looking to continue education, brush up on the latest techniques. Concerns, things like that. I did want to mention Authenticate, who is the sponsor of this show, is also sponsoring a SANS course next year called, I think it's four or five, eight, nine.

SHANNON RAGAN: It's led by Sean O'Connor. It is a 500 advanced level course again. So this is. You got to know your stuff, I think, before you dive in. But they're going to cover a lot of great information. They dive deep into dark web and cryptocurrency cybercrime in general, like uncovering even like victims of cybercrime.

SHANNON RAGAN: Like I guess in terms of alerting Hey, did you know this was a problem and do you need help? And then the other thing that I thought was interesting, again, for advanced folks, is understanding the attribution of cyber crime activity and finding out who's behind it. If you're interested in the course, check out the SANS website.

SHANNON RAGAN: Once again, the course number is F O R 5 8 9

AUBREY BYRON: One of our favorites who we just can't stop gushing about because she was on the show Ray Baker and K Scenarios. This is such an incredible resource, A, because it gets you to actually perform OSINT. It's not just talking to you about it. You have to actually do it.

AUBREY BYRON: And it doesn't really hold your hand as far as what to do. Yeah. And I think that's important because in so many, we've heard from so many practitioners as you can reach your end goal a lot of different routes. And so it lets you do that, but it is this like. gamified story driven version of OSINT and I can't recommend it enough.

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah. I think a lot of people are gushing on Ray for a good reason. And on case scenarios because I just don't think there's anything else really out there for OSINT. It feels more like a murder mystery online game than an OSINT training course, but that is what it is at its core. So first of all, I just wanted to mention also if you have not gotten Ray Baker's deep dive OSINT training.

SHANNON RAGAN: textbook. It is a meaty book. It's a great resource and lots of good information in there. But if you want to do some more hands on stuff, case scenarios can be a great experience. There's lots of different courses. There's a free one. I think there's three paid versions, again, focusing on ones on dark web.

AUBREY BYRON: There's a couple other scenarios in the other ones. Yeah. I did the dark waters one, Ray was on the show back in May, 2023. And we talked a little bit about this, but actually getting to do the course, there were moments where I would just like was completely stuck and I'm like, what is the wifi network of this person?

AUBREY BYRON: How would I possibly know that? I can't know that. And sure enough, I did not know that there is a program where you can actually just like Google street view style, walk down the street and see every visible wifi network. And this is in real life. This is a real town and I'm actually looking at these people's wifi names.

AUBREY BYRON: Some very bizarre, some, not chained from the stock modem and yeah, that's a tool I didn't know existed. Yeah. 

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah. It's great. The real world meets game scenario of case scenarios. And I really liked, again, the real world feel to it. There's like a kind of surprising degree of production value around it.

SHANNON RAGAN: Like you click it on, I clicked on the betrayal there's like an intro, a very like making a murderer, like the music is good, like the photography is good. It's nicely put together. And then Ray welcomes you to the course and lets you know what you're about to find, but the real world part comes in you're solving a murder case and you're looking at police files and they are not, a digital PDF.

SHANNON RAGAN: They are scanned documents. They are handwritten. There is stuff scratched out. It's hard to read numbers and when detail is so important in OSIT the difference between a six and an eight and a phone number can send you down a hours long rabbit hole of solving for something that was, like, oh, that's not what it actually was.

AUBREY BYRON: You know she based that on a real thing that she's run into. 

SHANNON RAGAN: Don't you hate bad scans? 

AUBREY BYRON: Let's clear this up. Yeah. No, I did, when she was on the show, if anybody is a gamer, I was like, oh, this reminds me a little bit of her story, which is a favorite game of mine, which is a mystery. And she was like, Oh yeah, no, it's definitely inspired, but I was like, knew it.

SHANNON RAGAN: No, she was great. She's done a great thing. I can't, I know she worked with a fellow Ocenter on the project. I can't recall his name right now, but we will tag you in the show notes because good for you. It's a great piece of work. 

AUBREY BYRON: Great job. Sorry. We don't know. But yeah. Anything else on training you want to add?

SHANNON RAGAN: I Think to just one more thing on the case scenarios is just that I know Google door gain, like really all of us have done some Google door gain in some way, shape or form. But when the specific thing you want is a newspaper article from 10 years ago, and it has keywords that's pulling up a million new things.

AUBREY BYRON: It actually, again, what's the difference between knowing what Google dorking is and actually using it to find the one tiny piece of content you want is huge. And I thought that I like was fairly well versed in that skill. And then when I was looking for this one thing, I was so frustrated. So even the simple skills, making sure you're actually applying them makes a big difference.

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah. Wonderful. I, we can't wait to. Again, really get our hands into some OSINT skills training. Obviously there's tons of events next year. SANS OSINT Summit is in February. There's lots of SANS courses obviously for OSINT if the price is right. There's OsmosisCon. God, I feel like it just happened, but we're already talking about it for 2024.

SHANNON RAGAN: It never stops. 

AUBREY BYRON: The free SANS virtual summit too. Was great. Was incredible. Yeah. Every one of those talks. I was like, Yeah. Yeah. So vigorously scribbling. 

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah. If your price is free, do the virtual one. And it, the Slack discussions I think, I can't remember if it was for Sands or. Sometimes if there is a Slack group like to accompany an event, like that is where you will find just such rich, tools, information, tips from the community, people asking good questions that maybe you've wondered yourself or not quite known how to pose.

SHANNON RAGAN: The speakers get in there and give their opinions, after. After the talk if, they've missed anything, but I really enjoyed that out of the shows to get to talk to the community via the channels. 

AUBREY BYRON: Yeah, it felt a lot more interactive by having the Slack discussion going on with the speakers.

AUBREY BYRON: Also, there were, dog pics and stuff, which I was like, send a photo to people who definitely know how to geolocate it. Okay, no pressure. 

SHANNON RAGAN: Yeah. All right. I hope you also are venturing into training and skills improvement in 2024. Good luck and Godspeed. Thank you for listening today. If you are interested in any of the courses or resources that we talked about today, be sure to check out our show notes.

SHANNON RAGAN: We'll have links to all of those. You can also view transcripts and other episode info on our website at authentic8.com/Needlestack. That's authentic with the number eight .com/Needlestack and be sure to follow us @Needlestackpod on the socials and and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

SHANNON RAGAN: We'll see you next time. Thanks.

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