Open Source Intelligence from a Knowledge Management perspective
1 October 2019
The 21st Century has ushered in an impactful revolution which has made data much more accessible to the public. Due to the acceleration in the development of the marvels of the internet and mobile technology we are witnessing base changes in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). Let's start from the top.
What is OSINT?
OSINT is a field of data processing that includes locating, selecting and collecting data from sources explicitly available to the public and are accessible to the majority of the public. This data is then analyzed and used to generate military, business or political information. OSINT's relevance to Knowledge Management has increased in recent years. OSINT grants us large amounts of data which are usually utilized by intelligence analysts of various sorts (business/finance/military/etc.) to identify tacit potential risks or recommend strategic decisions.
Where can OSINT be found?
Actually, any internet search is OSINT. When you memorize your schedule- that's OSINT, too. When you watch the news or check for any information on a product or service you wish to purchase- that's OSINT. We are all exposed to intelligence and said data.
Where's the problem? Anyone can use OSINT as a tool.
That would be a common assumption, based on the notion that all data is at our fingertips. However, despite its vast advantages our technological age has its catch. There is too much information, so much that it is referred to as an Information Explosion. This is actually the premise to all KM systems and frameworks. The vast amounts of data have made finding data quickly, easily and efficiently a difficult feat. Knowledge Management tools, specifically data/text mining tools, should be used to mine the data relevant to us.
The value of Open Source Intelligence
The main objective of OSINT is mining the data we need. Its main success is the combination of large data quantities and quality. If we can mine the data amount that suits our needs, we can be much more efficient. in short, we must refer to Knowledge Management.
For example, market surveys and comparisons for product marketing. To market a new product, we must review whether this product is in demand. If so, which ages consume it most? Which area would buy more of it? Would it be easy to operate by the target audience? Will it be age/gender dependent? Etc.
The more data we hold (quantity) and the better we know our target audience (quality), the greater will our product/service/solution succeed and benefit us.
OSINT on social networks
Applying a knowledge and information monitoring strategy to social networks is highly recommended. It is the first step towards discovering what different individuals from different communities think about your company, about a type of products and more specifically: your product.
The tacit meaning of "social" is "public". Besides serving as a social tool used for sharing among community members, social networks are also a public domain accessible to all. A high percentage of data shared in social networks is public. While there is some private data, it is usually not revealed.
Of course, social networks are also a source of military intelligence. For example, if the military is searching for a certain individual, social networks can be used to locate them. This individual's Facebook profile might reveal their whereabouts, as would their check-in points, uploaded pictures and Facebook pictures. OSINT combined with social networks accelerate knowledge and data locating and sharing processes. This combination makes the process easier and quicker, as well as more efficient. it opens to us a world of data and knowledge previously invisible due to the limits of traditional tools.
Advantages and disadvantages
Cheap OSINT is substantially cheaper than traditional data collection tools
Sharing and producing data- data can be legal and shared with everyone; accessible sources are always available and are usually more up to date on any given subject
Information collected from public sources is a meaningful resource to be exploited for both military and business intelligence
There are vast amounts of data in OSINT environments. Filtering them might be a difficult task.
OSINT requires human involvement- information filtering requires much human analysis to pick out reliable information from the great pile of irrelevant data.
My personal experience with the world of OSINT shows that it can be a very efficient Knowledge Management tool. It is constantly available and is legal, accessible and comfortable.
In short, let's use this amazing information to optimize and improve our organization.