The threat landscape, combined with masses of data from exploding numbers of online platforms, create a perfect storm of challenges for intelligence and policing teams.
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, policing and the intelligence industry has undergone a profound transformation. Traditional methods of gathering classified information are no longer the sole foundation for strategic decision-making within policing and intelligence agencies. The rise of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) has ushered in a paradigm shift, demanding adaptation, innovation, and strategic insight.
The OSINT revolution
The traditional intelligence community, both in the United Kingdom and across Western nations, is undergoing a revolutionary change driven by many factors, including tech-savvy threat actors, the rapid spread of online communications, increased societal unrest and changing geopolitical dynamics. Government and policing agencies are facing an increasing volume and diversity of threats to their communities.
The threat landscape, combined with masses of data from exploding numbers of online platforms, create a perfect storm of challenges for intelligence and policing teams. As the threat landscape evolves, the technology used to uncover these threats must also evolve – that is where advanced open-source intelligence (OSINT) solutions play an increasingly critical role.
Open-source intelligence, often referred to as a subset of digital intelligence, is the process of collecting, analysing, and extracting meaningful insights from publicly available data sources, including social media, news feeds, blog sites, discussion forums, and more.
Terrorist groups, human trafficking networks, politically motivated extremist groups, and other criminals and threat actors are radicalizing, advertising, recruiting, and planning across a constantly evolving range of websites and social media platforms across the Surface, Deep and Dark Web, often communicating in ways that make it difficult for intelligence and law enforcement organizations to monitor their activities and understand the nature of these threats at any given moment.
The sheer volume and complexity of data presents significant challenges – monitoring online platforms and uncovering critical insights is beyond human scale and any attempt to simply keyword search masses of data looking for anything interesting will inevitably lead to false positives and (worse still) operator burnout. This is driving a need for the advanced, AI-enabled insights into masses of online data that open-source intelligence technology delivers.
Instead of relying solely on costly and sensitive collection methods, agencies are harnessing the power of OSINT to make sense of publicly available information across social media platforms, dark web forums and marketplaces, online news sites, people and company databases, watch lists and more.
Even closer to home, the UK Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Command, General Hockenhull, has publicly acknowledged the challenges and shortcomings within the Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on the importance of OSINT, Hockenhull has found several critical challenges for his agency in embracing OSINT technology. These challenges are not exclusive to any single region but are shared across the broader Western intelligence landscape and can certainly be applied to Policing as well.
In the industry brief, ‘Addressing Major Crimes with OSINT’, we discuss how open-source intelligence technology can be used by policing and intelligence agencies to improve public safety and overcome the challenges posed by tech-savvy criminals and their organizations.
Request the industry brief to learn more here.
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