A Sailing Trip Gone Awry

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Blog

OSINT to the Rescue


At Nisos, we are all about threat intelligence. We examine online sources to track threats to you and your business, and we provide meaningful analysis. We use OSINT, proprietary data, and paid data sources to attribute and correlate various technical selectors. We use these to track the nature and scope threats, geolocating and identifying them. Our customers’ safety and reputations are important to us.

And while we are customer-focused, sometimes, we use our techniques to help keep our teammates safe.

Our colleague, Jake, went sailing with some of his buddies one Saturday. The plan was to sail from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to St John, New Brunswick, a distance of around 250 nautical miles. It was supposed to be a short and uneventful trip. And then a storm hit and blew them off course.

Luckily, Jake was able to send a text message to his workmates on Sunday morning letting them know that he wasn’t sure where he was and that internet and weather connectivity was spotty. He told us the name of his boat and said he might not be online for a while. He was able to get SMS messages out, so we surmised he couldn’t be too far from shore.

All vessels, commercial and private, are assigned Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) numbers. These nine-digit numbers are issued to an Automatic Identification System (AIS) in order to track movement for emergency and supply-chain tracking purposes. It’s similar to a fleet vehicle tracking system.

Nisos analysts were able to look up the MMSI number of Jake’s boat. And our friend had indeed been thrown off-course. His vessel had beaconed off the coast of Long Island, NY an hour before his text message. He was 200 miles off course and much farther south than realized. We texted him his actual position and he and his friends were able to correct their navigation.

Several Screenshots to Track a Boat

Monday evening, having returned back to Massachusetts, Jake recounted his adventure. The storm had blown them off course, and their navigation systems were having power issues. So while the equipment was successfully relaying its position, the AIS user-interface was not properly presenting the data to the sailors.

The data that we provided had been pivotal to the crew, because they were tired from fighting the storm and had not realized how far south they had been blown off course. Who knows where they might have ended up had they not received the proper coordinates and been able to recalibrate their position.

From tracking threat actors for our clients, to getting our teammates home safely, Nisos takes intelligence seriously. We will always work to protect our team and our clients.


About Nisos®

Nisos is The Managed Intelligence Company®. Our services enable security, intelligence, and trust and safety teams to leverage a world-class intelligence capability tailored to their needs. We fuse robust data collection with a deep understanding of the adversarial mindset delivering smarter defense and more effective response against advanced cyber attacks, disinformation, and abuse of digital platforms.