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How to find the right Chinese OSINT keywords?

Updated: Oct 11, 2023


Image credit: HOTLITTLEPOTATOE


The primary challenge faced by majority of Western professionals such as private investigators, journalists, military personnel, law enforcement, and analysts in the realm of OSINT research in China today is the difficulty of identifying the "accurate" keywords.


Without a solid foundation in this domain, the transition to more advanced research becomes significantly difficult to almost impossible. Keywords play a crucial role in the world of OSINT, especially within foreign environments like China. Linguistic barriers pose a substantial obstacle, but they are not the sole complicating factor. The abundance of "hidden" information from Western eyes within China is primarily attributable to the uniqueness of the Chinese ecosystem.


This distinctiveness encompasses various aspects, including slang terminologies, internet jargon, hacker language, cultural and political references, business practices, censorship policies, visual references, and more.


All of these factors collectively influence the linguistic landscape, making it challenging for us to locate the desired data effectively.

It all comes down to how to learn to "break the barriers".

---- We've just released the latest version of our advanced Chinese Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Investigator Resource Book for September 2023. It's now available to our students. Additionally, we've put together a brief publication that covers everything you need to know about "Access in China." In this publication, we share real-life situations from September 2023 that highlight the challenges of dealing with censorship and the common methods used by Western investigators. However, our main goal is to provide you with practical tools, data, and techniques that actually work. We also discuss some creative and unconventional ways to bypass censorship and access blocked Chinese websites, covering foolproof methods from the penetration testing field. We've also included tips on how to obtain a working +86 mobile number using simple methods that are right at your fingertips. Please note that while this brief publication is designed for individuals who may not be very tech-savvy, we've also included more advanced ideas for those with highly technical skills. ---

Let's get started It's just one of the many methods which we present in our advanced course on how to pivot to the right keywords, every case study might be different depending on who,what,where and how you search, but here's a simple yet highly effective method you can apply right away.

1. Start off with a simple "OSINT" term in Chinese that you can get relatively correctly from most common translators

It doesn't have to be 100% accurate keyword to begin with, depending on the context "OSINT" in Chinese (just like everything else) may be written slightly differently, but the idea is the same and that's enough for us to kick off this search. A useful tip here is to look at image results for example if we see that majority of the visual results related to that keywords represent visually the topic or content of our interest we know we're in the right direction.





A great tip to pivot from having one keyword is finding documents or files that are focused on that particular topic (more in the form of tutorial/ guide /educational research paper that explores related topics to OSINT)


2. Leverage "Google Dorking" and construct a specific query that tells us to search within specific file types or extensions like PDF documents or DOCX documents * You may also limit you search to domestic platforms that are known to contain a lot of documents or PDF files (e.g., Wenku as covered in this tutorial HERE)

* You may also search within any search engine of your choice, this is just an example.

Our query would look something like this (you can modify it how you like)


"公開來源情報" ext:pdf | ext:docx


In this very basic search we can find PDF documents that talk about OSINT in one or another context, at the beginning stage it doesn't really matter because we only need to identify other keywords, and specifically we are interested in finding keywords in Chinese that are written accurately when speaking about OSINT.


These type of keyword will allow us to actually pivot into finding:

* More accurate documents

* More articles that are found using the right keywords

* Discussions, Chatter in forums


For this case scenario we identified this PDF document


You don't need to look too far or overthink this for this simple case scenario, let's look at some of the fantastic "accurate" keywords/phrases we can collect here:

We have identified some random PDF that's covering the topic of OSINT & passive reconnaissance - now this is a fantastic choice to open because most of the time guides like these are 99% going to include other complementary keywords written by locals related to OSINT.


We can already learn from this PDF that they "OSINT" keyword we got from the initial research from the translator can also be written slightly differently. e.g., 公開來源情報 (OLD) VS 开源情报 (NEW)


The context, where and how's it's applied. What's next? 3. Apply the same method of research, using these accurately written grammatically keywords or phrases pivot further yourself to find what would be relevant or interesting.

* discover blog using the new keyword.

* discover discussions using the new keyword.

* pivot from there to finding the right sources with the right keywords.


Keep in mind several things: Depending on the topic you're searching, on the keywords you're using, on some linguistic factors and other influential factors as well, and the case scenario itself (more complex situations) different keywords may be written differently, incorporated into the sentence differently.

That of course influences you ability to find the information and to pivot from it.



This is just one example out of many, and complex scenarios for finding information and using unconventional methods like applying penetration testing methods and techniques.



Want to learn the advanced stuff?

---- What makes COSINTI course unique is that today it is the only Chinese OSINT course in the market that covers a wide range of topics, blends in unconventional information gathering methods inside China's ecosystem and gives you all the know how to search like the local while truly breaking all the barriers. ---

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