OSINT: definition of Open Source INTelligence

Expert.ai Team - 15 March 2016

What is OSINT? And why OSINT is everywhere?

According to the OSINT definition on the FBI website, the acronym OSINT means Open Source INTelligence: it refers publicly available information that may come from media such as newspapers, television and… websites. While about 20 years ago the lack of available information made it difficult to be informed, today, the challenge is that there’s simply too much information to know what to read, or whether it’s accurate. This explains why the use of OSINT software for homeland security has become a strategic activity.

OSINT is everywhere

Governments, that based their intelligence processes on their ability to acquire each and every piece of data have their own uses of OSINT. However, at the end of the day, we all use OSINT: when you conduct an internet search to find out news on markets and competitors, you’re basically acquiring and selecting data from OSINT. When you compare offers for flights and hotels when planning a family vacation, you’re most likely doing some personal OSINT whether you realize it or not.

Why industry organizations should build their own OSINT strategies: The “Risk” case

OSINT has become a strategic activity at any organizational level due the relevancy of building an internal, specific know-how in this area. The right tools for OSINT, combined with the right skills of teams that are increasingly OSINT-oriented can help organizations become more and more effective.

Just consider the typical decision and strategy process in operational risk mitigation. If you don’t have an open source information strategy in place, you may ignore one of the key elements of operational risk mitigation. OSINT can play a significant role in supporting organizations in avoiding risks hidden at any part of the supply chain that could have a dangerous impact on legal and financial liabilities.

From Open Source Intelligence to Open Source “Semantic” Intelligence

Organizations are increasingly turning to semantic technology to gain intelligence from the multiple streams of unstructured data and information they manage daily. Unlike keyword technologies or cognitive computing systems based on statistics, semantic technology is unique in its ability to approach the automatic understanding of a text. Cognitive systems based on semantic intelligence mimic the human approach in order to collect all the elements useful for building “the larger picture”, thanks to the ability to answer questions such as
“Who did what?”, “Who did what AND to whom, when and where?”

Applying semantic understanding to OSINT allows enterprise operational risk and compliance analysts to govern each and every piece of data, identify any relevant clue and develop the ability to fit, add or remove various puzzle pieces until a complete or understandable picture begins to emerge.

To learn more about mitigating third party risk with semantics, register for our upcoming webinar CyberIntelligence and OSINT: The next frontier for Risk and Compliance, March 31, 2016 or visit the Cogito Risk Watcher page.