How to Set Up Feedreader for OSINT Collection at Scale

Feedreader is a browser based RSS reader. What I like about it is you can create separate categories for different types of feeds, allowing you to monitor and organize different types of information.  You can create RSS feeds out of Google Alerts, Google News, and other types of aggregators.  This will allow you to automate a lot of your news collection tasks.  To get started using Feedreader to streamline your OSINT collection, follow this guide.

0. Make an Account and Log in to Feedreader

If you visit Feedreader’s website, you can easily make an account.  Make sure you choose Feedreader Online, not Observe (which is useful for checking an RSS feed before adding it to your aggregator). If you want to be extra-secure, connect via email.  If you’re trying to save some time, log in with Facebook for Google.

1. Create and Manage Categories

On the left hand side, there’s a “Settings” button marked by a white gear.  Click that and go to the “manage categories” option.  Here you can create different categories based on your OSINT collection needs.  You can create as many as you like.  I recommend being as specific as possible as the amount of content you will be receiving is likely to be high. Don’t worry so much about the name of the category.  You can always go back and change that later.

2. Add a New Feed

This step is where you start filling in your categories with content.  The green button labeled “Add a new feed” on the left hand side above “settings” will allow you to add a new feed url or website and assign it to a particular category.  Add as many or as few as you’d like.  If you’re not sure where to find good RSS feeds, go to the next step.

3. Finding RSS Feeds – Google Alerts and Others

If you don’t have a definitive list of RSS feeds you’re currently interested in or if the content you’re viewing isn’t specific enough,  you can use a plethora of open source tools to fill out your Feedreader dashboard.

To start, visit the Google Alerts website and enter a keyword you’re interested in.  Now, before you click “Create Alert” click the “Show Options” drop down just to the right of the big blue button.  At the very bottom, there’s an option labeled “Deliver to”.  There you can change it from your email to an RSS feed. Once you’ve done that, click “Create Alert”.  Once the alert has been created, you can right click the RSS icon on the right hand side and copy the URL of the RSS feed.  You can now add that to your Feedreader Dashboard.

If you want to get even more specific or access pages not indexed by Google, you can use a web data feed from a third party.  I like webhose.io and have been using them since I first discovered them earlier this year.  To get started, visit their website and create an account.  Once your logged in, make sure you’re in the API Playground.  You can find the link on the top right hand side.  From there, you can select “News, Blogs, & Discussions”, “Reviews”, “E-Commerce”, “Dark Web”, and even “Broadcast”.  The easiest way to start is under the “News, Blogs & Discussions” as you will get the most content.  Under the “Define the query” box, enter a simple search for any keyword in quotes.  Then, click the dropdown box labeled “Format” and switch it to RSS. The URL under the “Endpoint” box will now be a useable RSS feed you can add to your Feedreader dashboard. The free plan for Webhose only offers 1000 queries a month.  You can extend this up to 1 million queries if you have the budget, but it isn’t necessary.

4.  Using Feedreader’s Built-in Features

Now that you’ve created a dashboard that’s full of interesting, useful content, you can begin interacting with that content.  You’ll notice a few options in the top right-hand corner of the dashboard labeled “Expanded”, “Collapsed”, “Show unread”, “Show All”, and “Mark all as read”.  These are all self-explanatory but important to highlight as I didn’t start using them until my content became overwhelming.  I recommend keeping the content aggregation in Expanded view but switching to “Show unread”.  Any time you hover over an article link or click on it, Feedreader will automatically mark it as read.  Don’t worry, the content won’t be deleted!  You can always switch over to “Show all” to view it again.  The last feature is the “Starred items” category.  You’ll see on the left hand side where that unique category lives.  If you look at any preview under “Expanded” or “Collapsed” view, you’ll see a little greyed out star.  If you click it, it will turn the star yellow and simultaneously add it to the “Starred items” category.  I recommend actively managing that category for any OSINT investigations you are doing and only putting in it the content that is currently useful.  You can quickly clutter up that bucket and make it not useful.

5. Things to Note

RSS feeds, especially those found in services like Google Alerts, will spit out copies of the same article over and over.  Find the source article and delete the rest unless the publication or writer who reposted the content is significant.  Feedreader will continue to aggregate content even when you close the dashboard.  This is useful, but can quickly make your mornings stressful.  Expect to come back to thousands of articles you have to sift through.  That’s about it for Feedreader.  If you’re looking for a way to aggregate the news with your own standards, it’s a good place to start.

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