Open Source Intelligence Comes of Age

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Smarter tech, affordable devices and exabytes of public information have created a new class of crowdsourced non-state intelligence agents.

  • Open source intelligence, or OSINT, is the use and analysis of publicly available information, open source tools to arrive at actionable intelligence and insights.
  • OSINT has been in existence for many years, but it’s only since 2014 that easy access to high quality public data, powerful and affordable technologies have come together to increase its uptake.
  • Everything from busting Russian propaganda in the ongoing war, solving crimes, uncovering scams, and even moderating TikTok’s mischief mongers has been done using OSINT.
  • Anyone who has patience with analyzing large swathes of public online data can take part in OSINT activities. Most OSINT communities are made of citizen journalists, researchers and investigators.
  • The Russia-Ukraine war has demonstrated how OSINT can help uncover on-the-ground realities and hold governments responsible if they are manipulating narratives.
  • There is a also dark side to OSINT. The tools can be used by shady individuals or organizations to cover their tracks. It can also lead to doxxing of innocent people in case of misidentification.
The Economist
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