There continues to be accelerated expansion of new AI enabled data platforms and long-standing data providers, as well as new Open Source investigative tools, they are becoming a vital resource to critical investigations and intelligence operational strategies.
Traditional intelligence sources include Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). HUMINT and SIGINT have dominated the intelligence community for decades because of their reliability, and availability. Leaders rely on these traditional approaches, yet they recognize the value of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).
When major events unfold, intelligence analysts must understand the social context of the event and its impact on their national security. OSINT provides the social context missing from traditional sources, such as varied criteria such as motivations, cultural, economics, trends, current events, etc.
OSINT is generally defined as information gathered from publicly or openly available sources to be used in the intelligence and investigations. OSINT’s four distinct advantages make it a favorite among all-source analysts.
- Intelligence analysis supports national security and is always changing. Analysts often move from one topic to another. They need to understand a country’s culture, social and economic status, local major news. OSINT provides rapid insight which is often missing in other intelligence disciplines.
- OSINT provides a historical account of events as they develop overtime. Historical events help analysts understand what motivated an investigation subject to act in a certain way. Leaders reference open source intelligence sources without the need to declassify any material.
- Open Source intelligence protects the sources or methods encountered during the reporting process. A leader can reference events to defend their position on a given policy. OSINT allows them to do this without needing to disclose sensitive sources. Of course, in Commercial Investigations Due Diligence Research using Open Source techniques, its critical to list and provide data sources to validate the final research analysis reports.
- Open Source Intelligence gives context to classified sources used to create an assessment. Various intelligence sources lack the broader context needed to understand the situation. Single-sourced assessments may result in a misunderstanding that can cripple an operation. OSINT fills in the gaps from fragmented sources used in the intelligence community.
OSINT’s volume and complexity of unstructured and structured data, demands both a highly disciplined investigative analysis process and team as well as, strong data platforms and open source tools.
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