Even before Russian troops started gathering near Ukraine’s eastern and northern borders, the rest of the world knew about military amalgamation. Though CIA, MI6, and the world’s other top intelligence agencies were very brave and open in announcing something dire about to happen in eastern Europe, a college grad student sitting in the remote corner of Singapore could see the military build-up using various open source online platforms.
Welcome to a new age of open source intelligence, or as it is called otherwise, OSINT.
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the practice of collecting information from publicly available sources. OSINT operations are practiced by IT security professionals, hackers, or even state-sanctioned intelligence operatives. They use advanced techniques to search through the vast open data available in the public domain to find what they seek. As in our introduction, it was the curiosity about a possible eastern Europe conflict.
The main highlight of the OSINT is that all the information needed to form the intelligence is public. And it describes the general nature of the data being analyzed. However, OSINT is not everybody’s cup of tea. It will be helpful if you have a minimum understanding of various digital tools that make intelligence formation possible from the raw data available—also, a fair experience in interpreting data thus obtained. In our introductory scenario of military build-up, the grad student in Singapore must know how to read the satellite signal imprints, to the least.