Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) refers to the information ‘typically’ available in the public domain.
Due to the internet the amount information available to Intelligence Analysts is phenomenal. Today ‘open source’ information provides intelligence analysts with the ability to quickly and easily access information to support their understanding of key issues and support their assessments.
Open Source information is not new, it refers to freely available information available in the public domain. Information such as University research, journal articles or news columns for example.
However, due to advances in technology, the access to different information is now commonplace – and easily accessible. Moreover, the uptake of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and information sharing sites (such as Reddit and Youtube) allow everyone to openly share and communicate information on virtually every topic.
This is a virtual gold mine of information for intelligence analysts.
So, how does Open Source Intelligence Work?
Open Source Intelligence works by collecting information from public domains used to either support or disprove intelligence assessments.
Throughout my career I’ve used open source research to support assessments for people travelling abroad to often dangerous locations. Open source information helps develop an intelligence analysts understanding of the threat.
How I Use Open Source Intelligence: Whenever I begin a new project or intelligence assessment I immediately begin by completing a Google search to determine just how much information their is on my topic or issue. I search for recent news articles, opinion pieces, relevant research and even past assessments. I typically use open source research to provide my baseline understanding, and I build from there.
Given the spread of news, and ability to access information in real time, I also find open source a valuable tool for staying up to date with emerging issues, or events as they unfold.