Open source intelligence has become a popular part of the general discussion when it comes to the value of information and how and where it can be obtained. Open source intelligence (OSINT) can be extremely useful and powerful because it can pull information and create ‘intelligence’ or knowledge from sources that we have at our fingertips. Instead of companies needing to navigate through sources to understand the public and their clients better, they can turn to OSINT.
By definition, open source intelligence refers to the data that is publicly available and then used in an intelligence context. OSINT can be drawn from many sources of publicly available material. For example, it can be pulled from traditional mass media (television, magazines, radio), specialised journals, the Internet, or photos. It is often thought that the most valuable information out there is that which we do not know about or have access to. But what about the public information that we have access to and may just not be leveraging?
Here are three kinds of advantages a business can gain from taking advantage of open source intelligence:
1. Open Source Intelligence is the most inexpensive type of intelligence
OSINT provides a context and awareness – blogs, websites and social media all provide a unique type of insight into customers’ minds. The information that can be gathered and the knowledge that can then be created is filtered directly into marketing strategies and customer care practices. For any business with a tight intelligence budget, and even for those who have a greater budget, OSINT is a great cost-effective option.
2. Increase your Business Intelligence (BI) by tapping into Open Source Intelligence
With the information out there, it is up to organisations to make use of it. With the amount of competition and positioning that businesses face daily, understanding where you are at and also where your competitors are at is crucial. By gathering information and honing in on an innovative and effective competitive strategy, you directly increase your business intelligence. Learn about what is happening in your sphere and what is being talked about around you, and use that to monitor and anticipate change.
3. Open Source Intelligence is always available
Having quickly accessible data is extremely important for businesses. Open sources are also always up to date and can be legally shared.
Marc Demarest, a principal in Noumenal, Inc., an international management-consulting firm said, “open source intelligence requires more critical analysis skills than we needed in the old, proprietary intelligence world. In some cases, too, it’s still worth paying for certain kinds of proprietary intelligence. For most commercial purposes, open source intelligence should allow companies to frame up strategies and tactics, make informed choices, and generally avoid recapitulating the mistakes of competitors and fellow travellers.”
As the industry and technology continue to evolve and businesses learn new ways to take advantage of the offerings, we can surely expect some developments surrounding open source intelligence in 2017 and after that. It is expected that the actual information accessible will shift, as many sources of information available currently are attainable via social media. However, social media users are demanding data privacy and platforms need to respond as such. Open social platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram are especially expected to see user hesitation and open source intelligence will reflect this. It is also expected that industries will get creative in their ways of leveraging OSINT to keep their competitive edge. It is becoming more of a necessary action for businesses instead of just a suggested one. Outside of the business world, OSINT data is also expected to be used to monitor security threats. With the information out there, we can expect that putting it to good use and making the best out of it will drive innovation and open doors for plenty of opportunities.