What is Open Source intelligence?
Open source intelligence (OSINT) is data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context. In the intelligence community, the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources). Much to the contrary belief, It is not related to open-source software or public intelligence.
OSINT under one name or another has been around for hundreds of years. Most importantly, with the advent of instant communications and rapid information transfer, a great deal of actionable and predictive intelligence can now be obtained from public, unclassified sources effectively.
What’s the impact of Open-source intelligence?
OSINT is valuable because it has less rigorous processing and exploitation processes and timelines than more technical intelligence disciplines such as HUMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, GEOINT, etc.
Additionally, OSINT collects a valuable variety of opinions because it encompasses a great variety of sources.
- The ever-shifting nature of intelligence needs compels the IC to quickly and easily understand a wide range of foreign countries and cultures. – today’s threats are rapidly changing and geographically diffuse; an intelligence analyst may be forced to shift rapidly from one topic to the next. Increasingly, IC professionals need to quickly assimilate social, economic, and cultural information about a country—information often detailed in open sources.
- Open-source information provides a base for understanding classified materials. Despite large quantities of classified material produced by the IC, the amount of classified information produced on any one topic can be quite limited, and may be taken out of context if viewed only from a classified-source perspective. A notable example relates to terrorism, where open-source information can fill gaps and create links that allow analysts to better understand fragmented intelligence, rumored terrorist plans, possible means of attack, and potential targets.
- Open source materials can protect sources and methods. Open-source reporting can defend sensitive, classified information with intelligence judgment. This can prove useful when policy-makers need to explain policy decisions or communicate with foreign officials without compromising classified sources.
- Only open source can store history. A robust open-source program can, in effect, gather data to monitor the world’s cultures and how they change with time. This is difficult, if not impossible, using the snapshots provided by classified collection methods.
What is this Webcast about?
In our exclusive video series, cybersecurity expert Cameron Colquhoun explains why the data you and your company share on the internet, through social media networks and finally even in news releases, can create new privacy and security threats in a nutshell.
About Cameron Colquhoun
Cameron Colquhoun is the founder and managing director of Neon Century Intelligence. It is a corporate intelligence firm that helps major corporate mitigate their risks by harnessing the power of open data analytics. He was the first winner of the UK/US Fulbright Cyber Security Award. And he was previously a senior analyst at GCHQ, the UK’s cyber intelligence agency.