[Guest Blog] The Growing Importance of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) within your Safety and Security Toolkit
By Wayne Forgesson, CEO of Signal Corporation , Mar 23, 2023
There is little doubt that online platforms have revolutionized the way we communicate and connect with people around the world.
We can share thoughts, ideas, and experiences with others in real-time. However, in recent years, some of these platforms have become a breeding ground for divisiveness and hostility. From spreading misinformation and hate speech to creating potential issues from a safety and security perspective, the impact on society is increasingly alarming.
One of the most significant issues is the creation of divisions among people. For example algorithms are designed to show content that aligns with a user’s interests and beliefs and as a result can create echo chambers that reinforce or even exacerbate existing views. At this same time users are less likely to be exposed to alternative viewpoints, and that can lead to polarization and potentially dangerous "us vs. them" mentality.
Online platforms are being used to spread misinformation and propaganda that in some cases can have serious consequences including spreading hate speech and inciting violence. The anonymity of platforms can embolden individuals to make hateful comments, stalk and harass individuals or even threaten physical harm.
Open source intelligence (OSINT) is the process of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information from publicly available sources. It is a crucial tool to assist with the safety and security of individuals and organizations. One of the primary benefits of monitoring for OSINT is that it enables organizations to identify and stay up-to-date with the latest threats and risks. OSINT monitoring involves looking for intelligence from a variety of sources, including social media, news outlets, online forums and the deep and dark web.
OSINT can quickly identify potential threats and give organizations the ability to take steps to mitigate them. For example, if a company detects an issue that could damage their public reputation, they can quickly take steps to address the issue and prevent further damage. In addition, OSINT monitoring is a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest threats and risks, identify emerging trends and patterns, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
The sheer quantity of online information presents significant challenges to those seeking to leverage OSINT, so it is essential to use the right tools. While some people may prefer to carry out OSINT manually or use tools not specifically designed for the purpose, there are several reasons why using the right tool is better.
Using a tool for OSINT saves time, manual searches require individuals to go through a vast amount of data which is time-consuming and tedious. OSINT tools automate the process of data collection and analysis. Parameters are set for the type of information they are looking for, and proactive monitoring will alert them in real time when matching data is found.
Tools also leverage Artificial Intelligence technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing to assist noise reduction and provide more accurate results.
Common use cases for OSINT monitoring within organizations include
- Executive and Employee protection from threats, online harassment and adverse events such as natural disasters
- Situational awareness around key locations and assets
- Identifying potential threats to an organization’s brand and reputation
- Potential supply chain threats such as logistics, M&A activity or cyber attacks
- Cyber Threat Intelligence including ransomware and compromised data discussions
As the importance of OSINT continues to grow, the use of purpose-built OSINT tools will become increasingly essential in gathering accurate and reliable information.
Signal is an Open Source Intelligence monitoring solution specifically designed for the needs of safety and security professionals and is now available through Northland Controls. Using Signal provides relevant, actionable, real-time information, and tools to monitor multiple online data sources with a simple, easy-to-use interface. We empower security professionals around the world to quickly identify emerging threats, receive real-time alerts, and monitor developing situations in order to save time, save resources, protect employees, and manage operational risk.