Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context. In the intelligence community, the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources).

Why is it important in removing Pedophiles and online threats

Open-source intelligence is, as defined by the U.S. Intelligence Community, information that is publicly available, and gathered from radio, television, newspapers, or that distributed by commercial databases,
electronic mail networks, or portable electronic media. Here it should be noted that ‘publicly available’ itself has a broad definition; the intelligence gathered can be sought from mass media or when disseminated to a “more select audience, such as gray literature, which includes conference proceedings, company shareholder reports, and local telephone directories.”

The important takeaway is this:  Open-source intelligence is that which involves no classified information; no information that is subject to proprietary constraints (excluding copyright); and no information obtained from sensitive contacts, or through clandestine or covert means. Though not intended to be a replacement for traditional intelligence gathering methods, open-source intelligence has proven to be incredibly valuable in a world where social media and the blogosphere are used to plan, foil, and respond to acts of terror.

As identified in 2008 by the  Center for Security Studies  (CSS), open-source intelligence provides a number of major advantages, but also certain limitations and weaknesses that necessitate a tailored, individualized approach to the methodology (and that’s where Worldwide Counter Threat Solutions comes in).


Open-source intelligence has major advantages.

Among the advantages presented by the use of open-source intelligence — beyond the marked cost savings over traditional intelligence gathering methodologies — is the military, law enforcement, and prosecutorial system’s ability to use the information collected in legal proceedings without risking exposing sensitive intelligence assets. Likewise, open-source intelligence can be accessed and employed from anywhere at any time. Twitter is also open for business.

And perhaps foremost, and most especially after the events in Paris last week, open-source intelligence allows our world leaders and those most responsible for national security to monitor and inform the public, and hopefully, hopefully prevent another such tragedy in the days to come.

Open-source intelligence has its limitations.

There is no sort of intelligence gathering methodology that does not have limitations; open-source intelligence is certainly no different. When making the decision to consult, and make operating decisions based on open-source intelligence it’s critically important to remember:

“The fact that multiple news agencies report an event may not make it accurate or true per se. Governments and non-state actors are just as likely to use open sources of information to broadcast inaccurate or misleading information. On occasion, OSINT needs to be verified against information from classified sources.”

That’s the key.

Open-source intelligence must be employed in conjunction with, and giving consideration to traditional intelligence gathered from classified sources.

Open-source intelligence is, simply put, “necessary, feasible, and promising.” But for it to be a last component of an effective military intelligence strategy, the open-source intelligence community must not exclude the value of clandestine sources, just as the traditional intelligence community must work to make room for open source. After all, we’re all in this together.