Open Source – Week 2 Discussion Forum

For this forum, you are to answer one of the questions listed below.  The original post must be a minimum of 250 words. 

 

Questions:

• What role has OSINT played as an instrument to both protect U.S. activities and determine enemy strategies, culture, and vulnerabilities? 

• If OSINT IS open source, discuss how Gibson says it can be discretely acquired. 

• How have the goals, uses, and policies of OSINT evolved over the years? 

 

Instructions: Your initial post should be at least 250 words. Please respond to at least 2 other students. Responses should be a minimum of 200 words each and include direct questions.

 

 

Student Response #1: 

• What role has OSINT played as an instrument to both protect U.S. activities and determine enemy strategies, culture, and vulnerabilities?

It is a strange phenomenon that so many refer to OSINT as a relevant and valuable form of intelligence, yet still so many within the IC do not respect it as such.  Mercado says that, “Not only are open sources increasingly accessible, ubiquitous and valuable, but they can shine in particular against the hardest of hard targets. . .one would expect to see OSINT occupying a commensurately large space within the Intelligence community. This is not the case” (Mercado, np, 2007).

Even with the mixed reviews on the subject of OSINT, it has played an important role as an instrument at both protecting US activities and revealing insights on enemy strategies, culture and vulnerabilities.  In places like North Korea, OSINT provides some of the best political intelligence.  Information that is otherwise extremely difficult to come by is revealed through thorough analysis of that open source material.  OSINT analysis has had a number of important successes across a variety of enemies over time, including the Cold War and World War II.

OSINT also helps to shape the other “INT’s”.  By contextualizing intelligence requirements, both historically and currently, it can be used to provide a matrix in which the clandestine intelligence services can effectively be directed.  It also helps to identify and mitigate risk at technical, tactical, operational and strategic levels.  OSINT may also serve to aid in the creation of a partner forming trust by sharing it through multi-national organizations, such as NATO. Intelligence often has a restricted flow and hence a limited value in those situations, and the dispersion of OSINT may help to overcome those intelligence obstacles.  (Gibson. 2008)

 

Resources

Gibson, Stevyn. Open Source Intelligence. 2008. The RUSI Journal, 149:1, 16-22. Retrieved from https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/security-and-global-studies-common/Intelligence%20Studies/INTL%20422/Content/Week%202/Open%20Source%20Intelligence_An%20Intelligence%20Lifeline_Gibson.pdf

 

Mercado, Stephen. Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age. 2007. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol48no3/article05.html

 

Student Response #2: 

How have the goals, uses, and policies of OSINT evolved over the years?

The foundation of OSINT revolves around technology and its advancements, making it easier for the public to interact with one another and share information. This has been seen since the mid to late 1800s when the newspaper began thriving and sharing worldly matters with the community. Tsar Nicholas II addressed newspapers by saying; “We have no need of spies. We have the Times of London1,” and Oscar Wilde; “Oh spies are of no use nowadays! Their profession is over. The newspapers do their work instead2.” Though it is apparent that this is far from the truth, it illustrates the use of OSINT and its relevance since the 1800s. Clearly the evolution of OSINT and its resources are displayed through those quotes since newspapers are no longer the main source of information these days for society. Today OSINT uses sources from the internet and social media sites associated with it: The internet has become the power hub for OSINT. 

In 1941 the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service used the radio as a primary intelligence source for WWII3 as well as the use of printed newspapers. Through the use of these methods it became the most extensive form of intelligence collection for intelligence on Japan and Asia. When it came to the Cold War, OSINT was used by deciphering Soviet propaganda material from the books that were produced, as well as the continued use of radio broadcasts. But it remains true that OSINT has become less expensive and much more valuable today due to technological advancements. 

“The revolution in information technology, commerce, and politics since the Cold War’s end is only making open sources more accessible, ubiquitous, and valuable. Simply put, one can gather more open intelligence with greater ease and at less cost than ever before4.” OSINT is no longer just the use of newspapers and radio broadcasts; today the use of the internet has allowed for a broader range of information, accessible worldwide, and just at the click of a button. The overall goal has not changed for OSINT over the years, just the methods in which are used to gather this information. The protocols for OSINT are to focus on the target and obtain as much useful information as possible. “OSINT is at times the “INT” of first resort, last resort, and every resort in between5,” therefore the relevance has only become stronger in the fight within the intelligence community and their acknowledgment of OSINT’s presence. OSINT makes the other INTs more successful due to the leads it provides and information that might have been sitting right in front of their noses. The technology is a key within the use of OSINT, now it is time for the intelligence community to make use of its power, and organize technical resources; “tap those of the private sector to exploit the latest information technology for OSINT collection, analysis, production, and dissemination. OSINT collectors, all-source analysts, and others would benefit from smarter search engines, enhanced machine-assisted translation software, and better tools for incorporating audio and video streams into intelligence reports6.”

 

[1] Lindstrom, S. “The History and Evolution of OSINT,” Week 2 Lesson Notes. Accessed 14 October 2014. APUS Ebrary. 

[2] Lindstrom, S. “The History and Evolution of OSINT,” Week 2 Lesson Notes. Accessed 14 October 2014. APUS Ebrary.

[3] Mercado, S.C. “Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age,” Center for the Study of Intelligence 48, no 3 (2007). Accessed 14 October 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol48no3/article05.html

[4] Mercado, S.C. “Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age,” Center for the Study of Intelligence 48, no 3 (2007).

[5] Mercado, S.C. “Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age,” Center for the Study of Intelligence 48, no 3 (2007).

[6] Mercado, S.C. “Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age,” Center for the Study of Intelligence 48, no 3 (2007).