Netflix has released as open source three internal tools it uses to catch hints on the web that hackers might target its services.
"Many security teams need to stay on the lookout for internet-based discussions, posts and other bits that may be of impact to the organisations they are protecting," wrote Andy Hoernecke and Scott Behrens of Netflix's Cloud Security Team.
One of the tools, called Scumblr, can be used to create custom searches of Google sites, Twitter and Facebook for users or keywords. The searches can be set to run regularly or be done manually, they wrote.
Scumblr has a component called Workflowable that can be used to organise and prioritise the results. Workflowable has a plugin architecture that can be used to set custom triggers for automated actions, they wrote.
When something of interest is found on a website, another tool called Sketchy takes a screenshot.
"One of the features we wanted to see in Scumblr was the ability to collect screenshots and text content from potentially malicious sites," they wrote. "This allows security analysts to preview Scumblr results without the risk of visiting the site directly."
Scumblr, Sketchy and Workflowable have been released under open source software licences on GitHub.
To be sure, many sophisticated attackers keep their discussions of attacks on password-protected forums whose visitors are closely vetted by the site's operators. But there are also many so-called "hacktivists" who are less discrete.
Often eager for publicity, those attackers will use social networking sites such as Twitter to brag or warn of their campaigns, which could be picked up quickly by Scumblr.