The use of social media and the web has become a place to gather information. Prior to the digital revolution and penetration into the daily lives of the general population, information used to reach the public from various visual or auditory media like newspapers, televisions, radio, etc. In recent times, the main cauldron of publicly available information is web resources, particularly social media sites. The intelligence that is gathered by the concerned intelligence organization from the publicly accessed and available web resources are known as open-source intelligence, or OSINT. This article delves deeper and tries to find the problems of OSINT gathering and ways to get rid of them.
Why OSINT is even needed?
Information is power nowadays and properly placed wrong information can be dangerous to the environment of a country. This practice of spreading ‘fake news’ to cause disturbances, generate riots, killings, and even destroy the balance between two separate ideological groups. As the main source of information now comes from the web, and few of the targets have a sense or the time to verify the sources, it becomes necessary to collect intelligence so that monitoring the usual broadcasting resources can detect fake news, and take proper action before the damage is done.
This wrongful news is illegal, used to influence political battles, spread information of terror crowds, mobs, the cyber-criminal, and other attackers, and poses worries for intelligence divisions in national security and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Fake news can produce political disorders, insurgences, lawlessness, actual acts of terror, violence, and can initiate other forms of damaging crime. The OSINT challenges faced by law enforcement are several and needed to be solved to uphold the peace of a country.
The challenges and the way out
The practice of spreading fake news to propagate disturbance is not a new practice, but it has gained momentum in recent times. Especially with social media platforms, messaging apps, and other web resources, sensationally written content, coupled with doctored photos and videos can cause uproar and political upheaval in a country. To counteract this situation, OSINT collection becomes necessary. However, this job is not without its challenges. The main challenges faced by the intelligence agencies can be surmised as such;
- Huge data and content filtration
Uses of digital technologies have ensured that the population can express their views to each other freely, and without spending any money. The same technology has caused public information forums to get burdened with huge amounts of data. To generate a fruitful intelligence report, the organization of law needs verifiable and high-quality data. This means the data scientists will have to constantly implement filters to sieve the relevant news. Some intelligence agencies deal with this by training their data scientists harder. In today’s world, a program providing web intelligence solutions should be sufficient.
- Data security laws
The implementations of data security laws have made the job of intelligence organizations tougher. The data scientists now have to use other approaches to collect, collate, and analyze data and read the situation for a fruitful OSINT. In some cases, the agencies even have to wait for a court order for covertly collect data from a suspected source. This legal binding is one of the hurdles faced by an OSINT gathering law-enforcement agency. However, there are now OSINT tools available in several concerns which can collect data in real-time and analyze and predict a disadvantageous outcome. Having a talk with these companies can prove beneficial.
- The high amount of work
As stated before, the amount of verifiable and high-quality data in an OSINT intelligence gathering is high; therefore, the amount of data rejected and the workforce to employ these checks are also high. An intelligence report needs high-quality data, leading to a higher level of effort by the OSINT data scientists. Nowadays, there are several computers, programs, and digital aid to generate more high-quality data; still, the effort required to collect, process, and deliver these data is becoming harder.
Using digital methods
The inclusion of a huge pool of information on the public domain has immense value but also has its problems. The sheer amount and filtering make it a mammoth job. Therefore, using digital tools to collect and detect threats can be a very appropriate method, and consultation with concerns that work in this field can be beneficial for national security in the long run.