Connecting the dots: OSINT for the Public Sector

July 19, 2021

Every nation faces threats, whether cyber or traditional. A core responsibility of governments is identifying potential risks, making prompt and informed decisions, and enacting the right response, preferably before there’s any damage to citizens or national assets.

In recent years, our increasingly digitized lives have blurred the boundaries between the physical and the virtual. To keep nations safe, local and national intelligence teams must collect, sort, analyze, and act on incredibly large amounts of structured and unstructured data. But there’s an ongoing shortage of skilled personnel such as data analysts, especially in the Western world. Another challenge is the lack of automated access to the deep and dark web – causing analysts to try and get access through manually created dummy accounts, requiring significant time and HUMINT resources.

In this highly challenging setting, OSINT has become an invaluable tool for successful national security policies, supporting and helping solve different public sector use cases, including:

Counter-terrorism efforts – terrorist groups come in all shapes and sizes, from both international and domestic origins. Whether they’re fueled by a fundamentalist religious ideology, conspiracy theories, or extreme politics, these groups pose serious security threats. OSINT tools can help identify propaganda, member recruitment, online and offline financing routes, and even threat planning. This data not only helps prevent future terrorist events but can also shed light on the modus operandi of such groups.

Dealing with disinformation – unintentional misinformation and deliberately engineered disinformation can both have an impact on national security. As users are bombarded with so many posts, links, news, and opinions, it can become highly difficult to separate what’s real from what’s mis- or disinforming. Monitoring the online world with OSINT tools can help mitigate the spread of false propaganda and protect democracy.

Cybersecurity efforts – it can be a lone-wolf threat actor, an organized crime group, or even a nation-state that’s behind a cyberattack. Regardless of the source, such attacks can be devastating for the country, politically, financially, or both. In the technology race between these rogue groups and governments, the latter must be more proactive and faster than ever before in order to win. They must also be able to reach all corners of the surface, alt-tech, deep, and dark web platforms to be able to identify early indicators. OSINT can help achieve all these feats.

Transportation networks security – from airports to seaports to roads, citizens commute and travel every day from many different Point A’s to many different Point B’s. If a transportation network is compromised, serious damage can occur and lead to loss of property, or worse, human lives. OSINT tools can deliver early indicators as to the intended location of an attack, help identify the gaps in airport and seaport security systems, and provide increased digital and physical security.

Addressing international crises – to help alleviate the impact of natural disasters, pandemics, and other health crises, and manmade debacles, intelligence, security, and other teams from different countries may need to extensively collaborate. OSINT tools can help improve this collaboration by providing ground-truth information about the what’s and how’s of the unfolding situation, leading to a quicker, better organized, more informed response.

Cobwebs specialized OSINT solution is an AI-powered, automated, user-friendly platform that continually searches surface, deep and dark web to generate mission-critical information and actionable insights.

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