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The Pro’s and Con’s of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

Expert.ai Team - 24 February 2017

In recent years, the relevance of open source intelligence (OSINT) has grown within the field of information management. In fact, open source intelligence provides a large amount of the information used by intelligence analysts and corporate security analysts to identify potential hidden risks or make strategic decisions in time. While there are many advantages to using OSINT, if you are choosing to use open source intelligence, there are also certain limitations and weaknesses that you’ll want to take into consideration when planning your strategy.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of OSINT.

OSINT Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of using OSINT is cost: OSINT is much less expensive compared to traditional information collecting tools. OSINT offers a potentially greater return on investment and this feature is particularly relevant for organizations with a tight intelligence budget.

In addition to the cost advantage, OSINT has many advantages when it comes to accessing and sharing information. Information can be legally and easily shared with anyone ; open sources are always available and constantly up to date on any topic. Twitter, for example, is open and accessible.

Last but not least, information gathered from public sources is a great resource for intelligence for national security and can be used to support creation of long-term strategies for a variety of business goals.

OSINT Disadvantages and weaknesses

On the other hand, OSINT is not without its limits. One of the biggest problems of OSINT is one of potential information overload; filtering insight from the “noise” can be difficult. In fact, without valuable OSINT tools, finding and searching the right information can bea time-consuming activity.

OSINT is also not ready to use; it requires a large amount of analytical work from humans in order to distinguish valid, verified information from fasle, misleading or simply inaccurate news and information. OSINT must be validated.

To get the most of OSINT requires a detailed analysis and understanding of the requirements for using it. Moreover, the choice of using OSINT should not be based on cost versustraditional intelligence, because OSINT doesn’t exclude the traditional intelligence gathered from classified sources. Combining OSINT and traditional intelligence sources is a powerful approach for business intelligence.