Open-source intelligence (OSINT) refers to intelligence collected from publicly available sources. In the intelligence community (IC), the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources); it is not related to open-source software or public intelligence.
OSINT is defined by both the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as “produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement.”
OSINT INCLUDES A WIDE VARIETY OF INFORMATION AND SOURCES:
- Media: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and computer-based information.
- E-commerce: auction sites, classified platforms, group pages, e-commerce platforms.
- Web-based communities and user-generated content: social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.
- Public data: government reports, official data such as budgets, demographics, hearings, legislative debates, press conferences, speeches, marine, and aeronautical safety warnings, environmental impact statements and contract awards.
- Observation and reporting: The availability of worldwide satellite photography, often of high resolution, on the Web (e.g., Google Earth) has expanded open-source capabilities into areas formerly available only to major intelligence services.
- Professional and academic (or grey literature): conferences, symposia, professional associations, academic papers, and subject matter experts