A few Saturdays ago, we had the pleasure of presenting at BSidesDFW in Fort Worth, Texas. We were all OSINT all the time; we did one OSINT talk and three OSINT workshops at the conference. I’m very proud of the team that worked on all this content: @aguirakhoo @sudosu_kacey @maxdose_ & @pseudohvr. It was the first time this group presented in public, and they crushed it. Also a special thank you to Isac (@0isac0) for all his hard work in coordinating such a great event!

You can find all of our BSidesDFW content up on our GitHub page here: https://github.com/digitalshadows/virtualwhale-osint-ctf


BsidesDFW talk


@maxdose_ and I kicked off the morning with our Track One talk, “Do you even OSINT, bro? How to get started and stay afloat while conducting OSINT”. BSidesDFW recorded the talk, and you can watch it on YouTube:


Our talk starts around 14:23.


We gave an OSINT overview, talked about some of the challenges associated with OSINT, and covered some of our favorite tools: Shodan, Recon-ng, truffleHog, shhgit, Twint, and Google dorking.

Naturally, I worked BBQ into our talk. We did some social media recon using Twint on my Twitter account @rickhholland, and shockingly/not shockingly, we found that I tweet about BBQ quite a bit. The slide below features BBQ pics from our recent Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) Dallas cookout at my house. Brisket, pork belly burnt ends, and smoked blueberry bread pudding were on the menu.


BsidesDFW bbq


We wrapped up our talk highlighting Orca, a targeted OSINT framework that we developed to enable infrastructure-focused OSINT. Rich Gold (@drshellface), our Director of Security Engineering, released Orca at this years’ DEF CON Recon Village; you can read about it here. Orca is one of the tools we leveraged in the workshops.

Speaking of which, after our talk, we ran the OSINT Village and did three two hour workshops. @aguirakhoo @sudosu_kacey @maxdose_ ran the show here with some occasional jokes from me. The workshop consisted of a targeted OSINT investigation against a made-up company with hilariously bad security: VirtualWhale. We showed how to combine the OSINT tools above to gain access to VirtualWhale’s infrastructure at the os-user level, all by starting with an employee with less than stellar OPSEC: Robin Yokeys.


BsidesDFW example talk

This is Robin. Don’t be like Robin.


One of the goals of the workshop was to highlight how a successful OSINT investigation requires you to be flexible. Even if you have all the tools in the world at your disposal, if you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you’re going to be overwhelmed. We also highlighted some typical hurdles that you might come across. For example, with theHarvester, a tool that gathers emails, subdomains, hosts, employee names, open ports, and banners from different public sources, you may find yourself getting rate limited quickly by the search engines it queries. So what do you do then? Like Ross trying to get a new couch up his stairwell, you PIVOT!

BsidesDFW blog


We also ran into some other, less planned (but still somewhat expected) hurdles along the way, which meant that while presenting, we too, had to be flexible. The workshop involved the participants using publicly accessible private keys hosted on GitHub to authenticate into our fictitious company’s AWS environment. This inevitably raised several red flags with both GitHub and Amazon, and the keys were invalidated, not even halfway through the first two-hour session. Bad for our workshop, but probably a good thing overall (don’t make your private keys publicly accessible, folks). Thanks to @psuedohvr though, who recorded the investigation in its entirety, we could still show how it all worked. If you want to check that out and follow along yourself, that’s available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-R6VXBQBOvGmHNmZKbRcH_LQmU2oV1Of/view


opsec at bsidesdfw

Thank you @CyberLowdown for the photo, we appreciate the OPSEC


One of my key takeaways from all of our OSINT work is that whether you’re an organization or an individual, you must monitor GitHub and its peers. GitHub is the new Pastebin when it comes to open-source data leakage. Even just as part of a day’s work, Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest)’ analyst team finds a variety of things on code-sharing repositories that probably shouldn’t be there to begin with. Private AWS keys are just the beginning: We’ve seen full financial data, sensitive healthcare information, authentication tokens, and even confidential documents. All either directly hosted in the repository or linked within it. Attackers are continually scanning for valuable data like this, using tools not dissimilar to the ones we highlighted in the workshop. Moral of the story? Stay one step ahead of the bad guys, because if it’s out there, chances are they’ll be able to find it.


And finally, to wrap things up, here is a shot of our BSidesDFW crew taking a coffee break: @aguirakhoo @sudosu_kacey @maxdose_ and yours truly:

bsidesDFW team


Here’s a full list of tools and resources:

BSidesDFW OSINT GitHub: https://github.com/digitalshadows/virtualwhale-osint-ctf

Orca: https://github.com/digitalshadows/orca

Shodan: https://www.shodan.io/

Recon-ng: https://github.com/lanmaster53/recon-ng

truffleHog: https://github.com/dxa4481/truffleHog

shhgit: https://shhgit.darkport.co.uk/

Twint: https://github.com/twintproject/twint

Google dorks database: https://www.exploit-db.com/google-hacking-database


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