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Getting a job in OSINT – interview with Lorand Bodo

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  • 19/06/202219/06/2022

The general tech job market seems to have entered a period of instability, with fears of a recession being on the cards in the near future. It’s a good time to take a look at skills and knowledge that might be highly marketable and useful across many fields of potential employment – along with some job opportunities that those skills and knowledge can be utilised for.

That’s where Lorand Bodo and his OSINT Jobs website come in. Lorand has created a unique resource for the OSINT community and beyond, where one can find a huge amount of expert advise, tips for beginners, learning materials and most importantly – OSINT related job listings, aggregated in a regularly updated and an easy to navigate list.

Let’s hear about it from him directly.

As there's no one-stop-shop for everything skills, career, and job related in OSINT, I started osint-jobs.com. I believe that we can push the boundaries in OSINT by empowering open source intelligence analysts worldwide.
Lorand Bodo OSINT Jobs
Lorand Bodo
@LorandBodo

Hey Lorand, can you give us a brief intro about you – who you are, what you do, how do you introduce yourself?

I’m a German multilingual OSINT Analyst and Consultant, specializing in researching violent extremist and terrorist entities online. I consult on anything relating to OSINT, carry out investigations, and do highly specialized trainings. I also hold three master’s degrees in international politics and Security Science.

How long have you been in OSINT and why, what motivated you to start?

The short answer is that I fell into it by accident. Before and especially during my time in the German Bundeswehr, I developed a strong interest in international security and politics, in particular countering terrorism. This led me to do a bachelor’s in political science and oriental studies, where I also studied Arabic.

Throughout the years I noticed how much information was available about specific people I was interested in. At that time, I found it fascinating how much information I could find and that everything was in the public. This was an eye opening discovery. Studying research methodology, I then stumbled across the term o-s-i-n-t, which opened the OSINT world for me.

What is “an OSINT job” or “a job in OSINT”?

OSINT can mean different things to different people. For me, it’s a product that is produced from open sources (including paid stuff) and sent to a decision maker who uses that to make a better and informed decision. That decision can be anything from preparing a counter terrorism operation to acquiring a competitor, public opinion research, and much, much more.

If you look at OSINT from a product point of view, there are endless opportunities for someone who is a specialist at finding and analysing information as well as communicating the main findings.

So, to answer your question, about what an OSINT job is or a job in OSINT is – is really any job that generally speaking, involves the aforementioned steps.

What was the motivation behind the Osint-Jobs website?

My main motivation is to help the global OSINT community grow their skills and advance their careers. As we’ve seen over the years, OSINT has exploded and the need for OSINT practitioners has also grown.

As there’s no one-stop-shop for everything skills, career, and job related in OSINT, I started osint-jobs.com. I believe that we can push the boundaries in OSINT by empowering open source intelligence analysts worldwide. I’m just at the beginning with OSINT jobs. We have so much planned for it but we’re taking it step by step, so stay tuned.

OSINT Jobs
OSINT Jobs, created by Lorand Bodo

How would you describe the past, the current and the future market for OSINT-related employment?

Not every job mentions open source intelligence as a key term in the job description but form having monitored the job market for almost a year now, I can see that more and more companies have started using this term.

I also want to stress that despite OSINT being very popular at the moment, there are many people out there who have the rights skills, but they may not necessarily know that this thing is called OSINT. I also want to stress that people should not see OSINT as just tools and tricks; OSINT is a multi-facetted profession that requires, depending on the tasks/goals, a wide range of skills and specialist knowledge.

What I’m trying to say is that while anyone can take part in CTFs and geolocation exercises, there’s much more that needs to be mastered, in particular when it comes to analysing and writing.

What resources, other than your site, would you recommend for people learning OSINT or those who intend to improve their skills?

This is a very common question I get asked frequently. That’s why I wrote the ultimate beginner’s guide to OSINT which lists all major resources to get started with OSINT. Apart from that I highly recommend professional training courses. These usually cost but receiving training from a professional who showcases his/her case studies and explains in more detail how OSINT was produced is highly worth that investment.

I don’t recommend paid training courses where public case studies are showcased and explained as part of “how to do OSINT”. These cases could be shown as part of “examples” in the intro, of course, but when you train people at how to conduct similar investigations, one must understand the thought process and thinking behind each step.

This is simply not possible by referring to other peoples’ case studies. How can one explain the process, challenges, and everything that happened during an investigation when not being part of that case at all? That’s like me explaining how to overhaul an engine after watching an explainer video on YouTube (and trust me, you don’t want me to overhaul any engines).

Which branch of OSINT is currently the most useful in your opinion (people searches, companies, websites, vessels, etc.)?

This really depends on your mission. Whatever it is that you have to use to help your client.

What are the most useful foreign languages (as in non-English) for OSINT analysts and investigators?

That really depends on your area of interest. You don’t necessarily have to learn a new language to get into OSINT but of course the more languages you speak the greater the benefit.

Best advice for non-technical people who want to start in OSINT?

You don’t have to be technical to start in OSINT! There is this misconception that Python must be part of every OSINT analyst’s toolkit – that’s wrong. The bottom line is that you don’t have to know anything about Python to become successful in OSINT.

Once you start working with lots of data and you must analyse it, Python might be a good option; but don’t discount drag-and-drop tools, like Tableau, which are super useful and easy to learn.

Your favourite OSINT tips / tools / techniques?

Whenever I do training courses I emphasise that OSINT is not about tools, techniques, or another start.me page. It’s all about the analysis – this is where the magic happens. And for that part, I mostly use pen and paper (actually an iPad now), which allows me to structure my thoughts, the analysis, and a possible outline for the report.

What kind of a career path do you think awaits a person with an OSINT background?

This is something I’ve been working on for months at OSINT Jobs. I’ve been collating and analysing hundreds of job descriptions to extract useful insights about what kind of jobs actually exist, what industries there are, which tasks one would have to carry out and what the requirements for these positions are.

I analysed jobs descriptions to come up with a high level breakdown of possible career paths in OSINT. The ultimate goal is to help people find the right career path as well as point to the right professional development courses that one would need for a successful career. This is still a work in progress but keep an eye out for it on osint-jobs.com.

How useful are OSINT courses and certificates?

Personally, I find professional development extremely important. This can be in the form of either free or even paid courses. As an OSINT practitioner I want to know about the latest techniques, trends, and everything else that’s going on in the industry. Especially if you need to work on something you’re not familiar with, I prefer to get taught by an expert in that domain.

This usually means to pay for a course, but I see it as an investment for my career and thus far it has always paid off. On certificates: when I hire people for specific jobs, I look for demonstrated experience. This means to me “a story like, how that person investigated x while overcoming challenge Y to find Z”.

The more such stories the candidate has, the more demonstrated experience that person possesses. A Coursera certificate is great and might be an advantage when comparing with another candidate, but ultimately you just want to know if that person can do the job, has the right skills and experience, as well as can perform under real world conditions.

Thanks so much for the interview. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes, I’d like to mention that OSINT Jobs has recently grown: Gareth Westwood and Anne-Lynn Dudenhöfer have recently joined it and have been supporting the project. Thank you!

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