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This week in open-source intelligence (OSINT) news, a successful analyst and author talks about how she “fell” into an OSINT career, BBC investigators reconstruct the horrific events of the Hamas attack, Europol offers support for investigating war crimes in Ukraine, and private companies fill the void for China-related business information.
This is the OSINT news of the week:
Rae Baker shares insights on why she loves OSINT
Rae Baker, a maritime OSINT analyst working for Deloitte and a regular contributor to the open source investigative community, answers questions about what drives her curiosity, why she loves charts and which traits make a successful analysts. A lot of being a good analyst, according to Baker, is being curious enough to ask, “Why?” Later on, learning the analytical side and being able to sort through large amounts of data collected are keys to upping your skills, she says.
Baker, a graphic designer, discovered OSINT when she went back to school for cybersecurity. She attributes her success as an analyst to her inquisitive nature, outgoing personality and love for true crime. Her interest in analysis spreads to other hobbies too. Baker doesn’t just watch true crime like most people, but tracks evidence in a spreadsheet.
“I want a broad view of everything – from ransomware gangs to what journalists are interested in.”- Rae Baker, Maritime OSINT Analyst
Horror captured on camera
It was a festival like any other – thousands of young people dancing in a remote area of southern Israel. Shortly after 7 a.m. on October 7, black plumes of smoke appeared in the morning sky, the start of the terror that was quickly approaching. In the hours that followed, Hamas would fire thousands of rockets into Israel and carry out attacks on civilian populations,
Using video accounts from survivors, car dash cams and social media posts, BBC Verify has pieced together the timeline of the massacre and validated the facts using OSINT techniques and facial recognition technology. Not only did the footage show the graphic details of that morning’s bloodbath, but the BBC investigators were able to report on the horrific events that unfolded after the initial onslaught at Supernova, depicting how festival goers were being hunted as they fled and taken hostage by the militants.
“There were rockets, then they started firing. It was coming from different directions and getting louder and louder. I saw people going down. As we saw that, we just jumped into the jeep and drove into the fields.”- Gilad Karplus, 31, former serviceman in the Israeli army, working as a massage therapist at the festival
Europol pledges OSINT support for investigating crimes in Ukraine
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, has offered its support to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to help bring to light alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. In line with its mandate, Europol will support the collection and analysis of data legally obtained from open sources such as social media, broadcast television and radio, and others.
Europol will also lend the JIT its analytical and forensic expertise, as well as extensive experience in investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Just Since the outbreak of the war, Eurojust has been at the forefront of supporting accountability for Russian crimes, based on its 20 years’ experience of working with national prosecutors on cross-border cases.- European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation: Eurojust and the war in Ukraine
A growing market for China-related data
Beijing is increasingly restricting the already limited access to Chinese economic and business data for foreign partners. Just this year, Chinese authorities restricted overseas users’ access to many business databases (e.g., Qichacha), financial databases (e.g., Wind Information), and journal article repositories like CNKI.
Amid Chinese authorities cracking down on access and restricting foreign due diligence firms from working in the country, U.S. businesses and lawmakers are turning to open-source intelligence companies like Datenna, a Dutch operator who recently opened a U.S. subsidiary in response to growing demand, for accurate data sources to help make decisions, ensure compliance and develop policies.
“Private-sector actors are increasingly relying upon a range of commercially available data to comply with sanctions and other legal obligations, such as anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and forced labor.”- Alex Zerden, founder of Capitol Peak Strategies and a former U.S. Treasury official
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