Stay up to date with the latest OSINT news from around the world
This week in open-source intelligence (OSINT) news, Modern Diplomacy makes the case for the relevance of OSINT in modern warfare strategy. Small Wars Journal argues that OSINT-focused, hybrid intelligence teams could be the path forward for better diplomacy and military operations. Meanwhile, an op-ed in Just Security makes the case for the intelligence community to pivot to utilizing more OSINT, but acknowledges the path to that change is uncertain.
This is the OSINT news of the week:
Information warfare paving the way for OSINT
The rise of information warfare has set the stage for open-source intelligence to emerge as an important modern military tactic. From countering mis- and disinformation to analyzing satellite imagery, open-source methods can empower military leaders to track adversarial developments and undermine their strategies. Tracking social media activity, in particular, can become a force multiplier, especially when soldiers’ poor OPSEC protocols are at play.
The Russia-Ukraine War has become somewhat of a case study for OSINT, leading to an explosion in online information sharing in the days after the invasion. Beyond military strategy and defense, good internet samaritans have dedicated themselves to tracking the conflict for the express effort of tracking potential war crimes so they may later be prosecuted. OSINT’s relevance continues to grow alongside the ever-increasing proliferation of digital information.
“For instance, the US military used OSINT to track and monitor the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), through information on the location, movements, and activities of ISIS leaders and fighters, as well as its financial and logistical networks.”— Haris Bilal Malik, Modern Diplomacy
The need for hybrid intelligence
In the global landscape of increasingly empowered U.S. adversaries and threatened small-nation democracies around the world, the U.S. diplomatic and military needs are at a record high. Identifying emerging threats, like coups, and finding on-the-ground information at the snap of a finger, continues to be a struggle. Giesea of Small Wars Journal argues hybrid intelligence could be the key to meeting this need. He defines the mission of hybrid intelligence as, “to provide rapid, technology-driven intelligence gathering solutions that improve decision-making in pivotal situations, drawing from all sources and methods.”
Structurally, the teams would look like special forces: small and tactical, hyper-focused and agile, drawn from many sources and trained to innovate and pivot to meet the need at hand. These skilled operators could use open-source research alongside human intelligence to create reports for the issue at hand. With the growing challenges of today’s security environment, an OSINT-focused special operations force could be a powerful key to a winning U.S. military strategy.
“Imagine having access to scores of OSINT-oriented hybrid intelligence operators trained specifically to address this type of situation. Imagine, in turn, a SOCOM-like center dispatching teams to surgically solve these types of challenges.”— Jeff Giesea, Small Wars Journal
New tricks for an established IC
The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is adept at sophisticated intelligence techniques agencies have been relying on for decades. Open-source, meanwhile, is a skim of the top of the barrel, supplementary to the other more established “INT”’s of the trade. Frequent calls for increased investment in open-source have been coming from all corners of the IC. Even the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy noted the need to “stay current with rapid changes in technology…” as Just Security reports.
There are many obstacles to increasing the IC’s open-source methodology. One is in the debate between consumption and production. Should efforts be placed in collection or analysis? The sheer amount of information seems oceanic for analysts to wade through, and the analytical rigor required means for slower reporting than what civilians and journalists may be able to produce. The need to forge a new path is clear, but few, if any, have mapped the route.
“For senior U.S. decision makers, the choice may boil down to a simple binary: double down on the game the IC plays best, or wade into a relatively new game that anyone can play.”— Gavin Wilde, Just Security
Every other week, we collect OSINT news from around the world. We continue to keep a close watch on Russia's war in Ukraine, especially on Twitter. We’re also gathering information on cyberthreats, federal intelligence strategies and much more. Find us on Twitter and share the OSINT news you’re keeping up with.
The most security-conscious government agencies, law enforcement organizations and enterprise companies rely on Silo for Research to power secure, anonymous OSINT investigations on the surface, deep and dark web. Learn more about Silo for Research here.
To keep up to date on the latest OSINT and cyber security news, join our newsletter below.