5 OSINT techniques that bring intelligence to the enterprise

Expert.ai Team - 15 July 2016

OSINT (OSINT, for Open Source INTelligence) techniques are the methods and tools used to acquire information that is widely available and useful for supporting intelligence analysts. The sources include, according to the FBI “information obtained from the media (newspapers, radio, television, etc.), professional and academic records (papers, conferences, professional associations, etc.), and public data (government reports, demographics, hearings, speeches, etc.)”. Given the constant growth in online data, government agencies and enterprises in any sector need effective OSINT software to monitor, collect, analyze and leverage all the information found in accessible public sources. In this post, we’ll look at five applications developed for the corporate world that demonstrate why OSINT techniques are a crucial element for business intelligence activities.

1. Supply chain risk management and OSINT techniques

An untarnished legal and ethical profile are just two of the factors that companies must consider when evaluating potential and existing suppliers. In today’s fast paced, global economy a one-time evaluation is not enough. Instead, continuous monitoring is necessary identify risks to reputation (suppliers with criminal ties or ith corrupt management) and/or production (suppliers who don’t pay their employees, environmental problems that may compromise the delivery of services, etc.). OSINT techniques based on semantic technology support analysts by retrieving and monitoring thousands of pieces of data contained in open sources, in social networks and within specific information flows that are important for the supply chain. Once the risks have been identified, a system such as our Cogito Risk Watcher can select and highlight the most critical information for analysts to review.

2. CEO business meeting planning

CEOs of important corporations spend a lot of time in business meetings, often around the globe. Knowing more about the people they’ll be meeting with can help them be more effective and productive in building solid interpersonal and professional relations. While professional information about other CEOs, government officials, politicians, journalists is often easily found by conventional methods (ie. company websites, resumès, etc.), information about personal interests can also be discovered when open sources are analyzed through powerful and intelligent applications. Innovative techniques can provide CEOs with discussion topics and ideas for social activities to help them bond with their meeting participants.

3. Asset protection

Multinational corporations need to enhance corporate security activities to identify dangerous phenomena that may require tactical action in real time, and pinpoint potentially negative trends and phenomena that may require strategic action in order to protect the company. OSINT techniques based on semantic technology processes an enormous quantity of data generated by multiple sources (internal, external, specialized providers) and of various types (news reports, notifications, tweets, etc.). Each piece of data is selected and qualified so that a tactical action can be performed if needed (i.e. @Anonymous communicated its intent to carry out a series of attacks against companies in the industry). Other data is considered from a strategical standpoint so that future threats can be avoided (i.e. identifying evolution of opinions and/or related influences).

4. Country factbook monitoring

Companies need access to the most up to date global information, especially that regarding all of the countries where it does business. Although there are a number of providers that specialize in this type of information, the downside to such subscriptions are significant: a) many some organizations (government and large corporations) don’t necessarily want third parities to know that they are collecting it and b) they need their information in real time. OSINT solutions, thanks to semantic analysis, processes millions of pieces of open source content every day (social networks included and, based on given targets such as people, places, organizations, topics, etc.), and selects and directs information of interest with precision. The indexing process extracts “atoms of knowledge; in this way the client does not receive an entire document as output, just a portion of text where the target of interest is contextualized with respect to its semantic surroundings, providing an optimized snapshot view of the information.

5. Customer satisfaction analysis

Companies can leverage customer feedback, as well as market intelligence and signals from external sources to better understand the needs of customers and changes in the marketplace. Innovative OSINT techniques can collect both qualitative and quantitative data related to the needs and issues expressed by customers and measure their relative level of satisfaction. Through the analysis of comments and opinions, these solutions apply semantic processing techniques to understand customer feedback and categorize it based on the sentiment expressed. Incorporating data from multiple sources enables correlation of information to give greater context for analysis.