OSINT resources are multiple and various, and always in a state of flux. Every other day new tools pop up, while old ones silently are retired. That’s why many citizen journalists, researchers or investigators use start.me daily. It just makes your OSINT work easier.
We asked Technisette and Loránd Bodó, both well-known in the OSINT community, to explain.
How did you discover start.me?
Loránd: I came across it on Twitter. I can’t remember who the first person was with a start.me page, but I think it was Technisette, from technisette.com. When I looked at her page, I was like, wow! This is amazing! At that time, a start.me page was exactly what I was looking for – a solution to easily manage all my bookmarks for OSINT.
It’s easy to manage all my bookmarks and links. This is so crucial for OSINT.
I decided to create my own page and design it the way I want it to look like, so I can quickly find tools, techniques, and other resources.
Technisette: A colleague of mine referred me to you. He showed me how it works and because it was so easy to use, I build my collection right away.
How does start.me help you in managing your OSINT resources?
Loránd: I’ve got two pages. One for OSINT tools and the other one specifically for radicalization and terrorism related issues.
One of the problems I saw with these link collections was that for me they weren’t really structured in a useful way, so I thought about how to best structure it. I decided to create headings for each intelligence discipline and put all relevant resources underneath it with sub-categories. On my OSINT dashboard, for example, you’ll find the major intelligence disciplines at the top, but also some that I’ve produced, like for example, FOSINT – financial open-source intelligence. This is where I list due diligence related links and other financial stuff.
As the investigator, when I’m looking for something, for example for Facebook, I go to the software column. And then I use the good old Ctrl-F, and then I check it out. So, it’s really useful.
I just haven’t come across anything that makes it so easy to summarize and organize all these different sources. That’s why I’m using start.me.
And to be honest, I was also thinking of creating my own version and publishing it on my website (lorandbodo.com), so I don’t have to use a third-party provider. But I simply don’t have the time for any coding.
Technisette: Having your favorite sources all sorted in one page is very helpful. When you’re switching computers, you won’t have to drag your bookmarks with you, just open your start.me-page.
What are your favorite widgets and features?
Technisette: Don’t have anything in particular. Mostly having the option to have separate boxes where you can categorize everything.
Loránd: I have a PRO account because I wanted the broken link checker. With it, I can automatically see which links are broken and must be removed. Sources come and go – often quickly, so I wanted this feature that automatically scans all my links. I don’t want a bookmark page where none of the links work. That was one of the main reasons why I’ve decided to get a PRO account.
Also, I wanted to create RSS feeds, which I find amazing and super useful for monitoring certain topics and news. You can easily do that on start.me
What else would you like to see developed on start.me?
Technisette: The reason I stopped updating my page, was that I wasn’t able to search in the comments that are attached to each bookmark. Would be a great help if that would work!
Quick start.me reaction: It is possible to search in bookmark descriptions too. Read this support article.
Loránd: One of the major things we are concerned about is privacy. I think about this from two angles. From the perspective of a user who creates this dashboard: what information do I give up or leak when using start.me? And from an end-user point of view: what information does start.me collect when I access such dashboards? Clarity is needed and crucial for such services.
Loránd: I’ve created a Table of Contents on my Terrorism and Radicalisation start.me page, so people can easier find relevant resources. If there was a function that would allow me to create such categories more easily, I think some people would like that option. In other words, you can not only create pages, but sub-categories with just one click to enable users to compile awesome dashboards that are interlinked. You get the idea. A way to link automatically to different pages.
Even more ideas?
The interview by email with Technisette took place on the 9th of October 2020. The Skype interview with Loránd Bodó dates from Oct. 19, 2020. In that conversation he mentioned even more ideas to improve start.me:
- A series of webinars to present start.me and how it can be utilized for OSINT research.
- An improved Twitter widget, so you can monitor lists. Now, you can only follow single users.
- A new widget for Academics to monitor the latest articles in their field.
- More statistics about the top sites used in a country. (Quick start.me note: This information is already available in the Discover section, but it could be expanded to make it more useful)
So, there you have it: a lot of feedback from two seasoned OSINT researchers. We’d love to hear what you think about all this. Please leave a comment below, and we’ll respond to it personally.
Or fill out this poll to give your opinion on your favorite upcoming OSINT improvement. You’ll see the opinion of your fellow researchers immediately.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
- Author: Stefan van Dierendonck