Big Data and OSINT

May 10, 2021

In 2020, more data flowed through the veins of the internet than ever before. Lockdowns translated to increased internet users all across the world. In developing nations, more and more 2G and 3G using populations entered into the data-driven mobile world. In the developed world, telecom operators enhanced their 4G services and began rolling out 5G to support the exponential increase in data. The “new normal” meant a new internet world with incredible amounts of public data. Unfortunately, it also meant increased cybercrime and cyber-terrorism.

In a world where cyber criminals act at the speed of light, manual open-source intelligence gathering techniques beget a “so much data, so little time” dilemma. In most cases, to deliberately discover and distill useful intelligence from this kind of large, varied, and unstructured data set requires excessive resources such as time, human capital, and ample money – something most law enforcement agencies and businesses doesn’t have.

Dealing with unstructured data is time-consuming and complicated, as this type of data doesn’t fit neatly into traditional databases with clear-cut categories such as name, address, phone number, ID number, etc. Unstructured data contains rich information that can be highly relevant to an investigation, but in many cases, its uncategorizable nature translates to an inability to detect important, new, or changed data on time, if at all.

The answer to the unstructured data challenge is using automated, multisource OSINT and SOCMINT tools that are built to handle both structured and unstructured data. These types of tools continuously collect data from countless OSINT sources. They use self-improving machine learning models to transform unstructured data to structured data, run a thorough open source investigation, and generate insights in real-time. They leverage open source footprinting faster than the speed with which criminals clean up after themselves.

Nowadays, almost everything is automated. Automation helps utilize staff time better. It saves money even while the staff is sleeping. It helps make more targeted and actionable decisions. In the case of osint techniques, automation helps find and leverage previously undiscovered sources. That’s why around the world more and more law enforcement agencies are turning to automated open source intelligence tools to carry out their investigations.

From criminal background online investigations to web fingerprint reconstruction, from web application to cyber threats on social media, the uses of the automated OSINT model are endless. The insights generated by an automated OSINT tool accelerate investigations already at their critical beginning, and help investigators move from playing catch up to being proactive.

Cobwebs Technologies offers a comprehensive automated platform that includes active web intelligence, a financial investigation platform, and open source intelligence tools, among others, for use in law enforcement, national security, public safety, and the corporate world.

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