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Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Use by Governments




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@effectgroupEffect Group – Sam Tilston

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Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) has become increasingly popular over recent years. OSINT provides value to growing corporations and government agencies alike.

In 2020, the market size of open-source intelligence (OSINT) exceeded USD $5 billion. The growth is due to escalated demand for data from publicly available sources.

OSINT is often considered alongside private businesses that are driving growth. However, the information is also used by government agencies for several reasons. Uses include cybersecurity and managing misinformation.

In the 1980s, the US military first coined the term ‘OSINT’. Since then, the dynamic reform of intelligence has been beneficial in many different scenarios. 

What is OSINT?

The term open-source intelligence, commonly known as OSINT, refers to the process of legally collecting information that can be accessed and gathered from free, public sources online. 

The process of gathering information includes various techniques. These include data mining, different crawling techniques, data extraction, data washing, and analysis.

In this instance, open source refers to the public and accessible nature of analysing data. It’s not to be confused with open-source software which includes OSINT tools. 

OSINT operations have countless benefits. During a time where data is king and cybercrime continues rising, these benefits are especially useful.

The benefits have inspired both IT security professionals and state-sanctioned intelligence operatives to use various OSINT technologies.

History of OSINT

The earliest references of OSINT can be found in the creation of the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service (FBMS) in 1941. The agency had the important task of monitoring foreign broadcasts for any suspect action.

The term OSINT was first used in the late 1980s by the US military. It described the dynamic nature of information sources to find tactical success on the battlefield.

By 2004, the United States had experienced the horror of the September 11 attacks.  The government commissioned an open-source intelligence agency in response. This development would inspire future OSINT use in both government and private spaces.

Today, open-source intelligence is available in six main categories;

Media such as magazines, radio and television

  1. Internet such as online publications, social media and discussion groups
  2. Public government data such as reports, budgets, and hearings
  3. Professional and academic publications such as journals and academic papers
  4. Commercial data such as commercial imagery and databases
  5. Grey literature such as technical reports and patents

How Does OSINT Work?

In January 2021, there were an estimated 4.66 billion active internet users across the globe. A large percentage of these users have online accounts and submit information online.

Monitoring all this information manually is not only time-consuming but also near-impossible. The framework of OSINT processes and tools works to gather and collect data through various methods.

These methods include data mining, various crawling techniques, and data extraction.

Leveraging the benefits of OSINT allows a cyber-security team to achieve the following;

  1. Identify public-facing assets that could be vulnerable
  2. Learn about relevant information beyond the organisation’s immediate access
  3. Take action based on information attained
  4. Reduce security risks by identifying vulnerabilities
  5. Deal with crises and misinformation

While OSINT has developed to serve private and corporate purposes, its use in government organisations is also prolific.

Popular OSINT Technologies and Uses

In the current business landscape, OSINT technologies have the power to impact the business environment. Organisations are encouraged to be open and transparent about their goods and services.

There are several OSINT technologies that make access to data easy and convenient.

Here are a few examples of the various technologies available. Note the value that they offer in the private space.

  • Maltego – graphical link analysis tool that outlines various online relationships
  • Shodan – a search engine for internet-connected devices
  • theHarvester – a tool used to get email and domain-related information outside of an organisation
  • Check usernames – a tool to search for particular usernames or domains
  • Tineye – a tool used to identify whether an image is freely available online

As you can see, entities use OSINT tools for a range of activities, helping a wide range of industries. One group of operatives that benefit greatly from OSINT are government agencies.

Ways that Governments Can Apply Open Source Intelligence

The government has the critical role of protecting a nation. Various departments work to protect citizens and national assets.

With the rapid development of technology and the interconnectedness of online resources, the internet offers many uses. It also introduces the risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities to infrastructure.

Making use of OSINT offers many benefits for governments (and government agencies), such as the following.


The threat of terrorism can be both domestic and international, stemming from both large and small groups.

Online spaces and social media platforms offer a platform for extremist movements. Often, these groups communicate and spread hateful messages online.

Consider how excitement was generated for the attack on the Capitol building in January 2021.

Regulating networks with various OSINT tools can flag these concerns. They can also offer a better understanding of how these groups work and the risk that they present.

Directing Misinformation

It’s not only physical attacks that present a threat to the nation. Modern technology and the viral spread of information makes it easy to produce online propaganda. Online platforms often feed citizens misinformation (or disinformation).

Misinformation can present itself in several ways. For example, impersonation, spreading fake news, reposting illegitimate information and sharing misleading information.

Being alerted to misinformation allows government security agencies to deal with the problem swiftly. As well as counter the misinformation with the truth.

Consider how misinformation spread about COVID-19 and how it affected public opinion. Election teams were able to address this information and build support.

National Cybersecurity

Hackers can work as solo criminals or in groups. Regardless of the setup, hackers present a financial and political threat. Governments use OSINT tools to detect agile cyber-attacks on data, infrastructure, and citizens.

Government intelligence agencies use OSINT technology in conjunction with other cybersecurity feeds. The systems protect against breaches and cyber espionage, network attacks and take-downs, and botnets.

These resources were particularly useful following the months of the pandemic. During this time, the number of malicious attacks and misinformation increased.

Transportation Security

Transportation hubs, such as airports, seaports and highways are the gateway for tourism and business. When compromised, the infrastructure becomes vulnerable. In turn, this puts added pressure on security teams protecting assets, data and human life.

Government intelligence teams working security in transportation use OSINT. Using open-source intelligence, it’s possible to secure and plan an incident response.

Accessing public information can help to warn against threats near transportation hubs. As well as stay alert to vulnerable data.

Dealing with National Crises

National (and global) disasters happen in a variety of ways. Intelligence teams need data to combat the likes of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and public health crises.

Online spaces that offer knowledge can highlight hotspots of a crisis. The knowledge also offers the location of resources and how other destinations are responding to the same situation.

Open Source Intelligence Used by Governments

Governments (and government agencies) rely on OSINT for various purposes.

For example, OSINT plays a pivotal role in;

  • National security
  • Counterterrorism
  • Cyber tracking terrorists
  • Supplying policymakers with necessary information
  • …And more

Although the information is available in the public domain, government agencies have certain restrictions on the way that OSINT tools are used in relation to sensitivity and legal protocol.

There are several different government agencies leveraging OSINT around the world.

Here are a few examples of theory in practice.

US Homeland Security

America’s Department of Homeland Security has an open-source intelligence unit. In 2007, the Domestic Open Source Enterprise was established to support the department’s needs for information. Open sources are used to develop homeland security intelligence.

US Armed Forces

OSINT has assisted various departments of the United States’s armed forces with strategic communication and the management of hostile threats. These military offices include the likes of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

UK Law Enforcement

UK law enforcement is another government sector that uses OSINT to protect the public and do their work effectively. For example, the metropolitan police use open source intelligence, such as social media, as an investigative tool.

UK Intelligence Corps

The British Intelligence Corp uses open-source intelligence to react quickly to incidents. As well as work together with other military groups and various government departments.  The organisation handles gathering information and using intelligent analysis techniques. OSINT helps this process.

Open Source Center (OSC)

The OSC has its headquarters in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It involves a global network of multilingual analysts. The network works for the US government and handles various pieces of information. For example, military and local law enforcement issues found in the public space.

OSINT Continues to Offer Value

Open-source intelligence plays a crucial role in the daily happenings of various government organisations. The value offered by OSINT is forecasted to continually rise.

There’s no denying the benefits that OSINT offers in exposing national security threats and vulnerabilities. As online data continues to be exponentially available, so will the role of OSINT technologies continue to be used.


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Visual Capitalist

Mapping The Biggest Companies By Market Cap in 60 Countries



Why do investments perform the way they do? This is a question many investment experts have been attempting to answer for years. Luckily, factor investing can provide investors with a data-driven understanding.

In this infographic from MSCI, we use scenarios from everyday life to explain how factor investing works.

What is Factor Investing?

Simply put, investors choose stocks based on the “factors”, or characteristics, that help explain investment performance. They are typically aiming for:

  • Higher returns
  • Lower risk
  • More diversification

While you may not have actively incorporated factor investing in your current portfolio, almost everyone will be familiar with the underlying concepts in real life. Here are five common factors and scenarios where you likely experience their principles.

1. Low Volatility Factor

The low volatility factor attempts to capture excess returns to stocks with lower than average risk. This factor has generally performed best during economic slowdowns or contractions.

How you may experience it: If you want a writing career with relatively reliable income, you’ll likely choose to be a marketer at a large company rather than a self-employed author.

2. Quality Factor

The quality factor attempts to capture excess returns in shares of companies that are characterized by low debt, stable earnings growth, and other “quality” metrics. This factor has generally performed best during economic contractions.

How you may experience it: When you’re purchasing new tires for your car, you might consider characteristics like tread longevity, traction, and fuel economy.

3. Value Factor

The value factor attempts to capture excess returns to stocks that have low prices relative to their fundamental value. This factor has generally performed best during economic recoveries.

How you may experience it: If you want a good deal, you may look for items that are on sale.

4. Momentum Factor

The momentum factor attempts to capture excess returns to stocks with stronger past performance. It has generally performed best during economic expansions.

How you may experience it: When you’re deciding what to watch, you may choose a TV show that has high audience ratings. You’ll likely also recommend it to your friends, which further boosts viewer numbers.

5. Low Size Factor

The low size factor attempts to capture excess returns of smaller firms (by market capitalization) relative to their larger counterparts. It has generally performed best during economic recoveries.

How you may experience it: When you’re learning a new sport, you’ll see larger increases in your skill level than a professional athlete will.

Understanding Your Investments With Factor Investing

These simple concepts are at work in your everyday life and in your investments. Targeting these factors can help you meet your investing goals, including maximizing return potential and managing risk.

From 2000 to 2020, here’s how the risk and return of the above factors compared to the benchmark MSCI World Index.

  Return Risk
Momentum 9.4% 14.8%
Quality 8.7% 13.9%
Low Size 8.0% 17.0%
Value 7.9% 17.9%
Low Volatility 7.6% 11.1%
MSCI World Index 6.6% 15.6%

​​Annualized risk and gross returns in USD from December 29 2000 to December 31 2020 for MSCI World Factor Indexes.

All five of the factors have had greater historical returns than the benchmark index, and some have also had lower risk.

With factor investing, you can better understand what drives your portfolio’s performance.

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Microsoft Office 2021 will be available on October 5th



Microsoft will release Office 2021, the next consumer version of its productivity suite, on October 5th. That’s the same day the company will launch Windows 11. Much like Office 2019 before it, Office 2021 is a one-time purchase that will be available on both Windows and macOS. It’s for people who don’t want to subscribe to the company’s Microsoft 365 subscription.

Microsoft promised to share more details on Office 2021 soon, but we know from reporting by The Verge’s Tom Warren that the release will feature many of the same improvements found in Office LTSC, a variant of the software the company released today for enterprise customers who can’t access the Cloud. Among other improvements, it adds accessibility features and dark mode support. We also know from a previous announcement Microsoft plans to support the software for at least five years, and that the software will work with both 32- and 64-bit systems out of the box.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Visual Capitalist

A Geographic Breakdown of the MSCI ACWI IMI



At the heart of Canada lies a greenstone belt that has provided the nation with more than 90% of its gold production. With more than 100 years of gold discovery in the Abitibi region located between Québec and Ontario, this area was the kiln that helped forge the Canadian mining industry.

Ever since the discovery of gold at Lac Fortune in 1906, the Abitibi has grown to become one of the world’s most prolific gold mining regions, and has produced over 190 million ounces of gold.

This graphic sponsored by Clarity Gold maps the history of gold discovery in the Abitibi and showcases the region’s overburden thickness. With a history of prolific discovery and production, there’s still plenty to explore under the Abitibi’s areas of thick overburden.

A Timeline of Gold Discovery in the Abitibi

Canada, known more for beaver pelts and timber, did not reveal its riches immediately. There were only a handful of gold discoveries in its early history. Gold was first discovered in 1823, on the shores of Rivière Chaudière in Québec, further east of the region known as the Abitibi today.

But as settlers spread west, gold surfaced in British Columbia and the Yukon in the late 1800s, kicking off the Cariboo and Klondike gold rushes. It wasn’t until the 1900s that gold was found in the Abitibi greenstone belt, marking the beginning of the modern era for the Canadian mining industry.

First Discovery and the Porcupine Gold Rush

Gold within the Abitibi was first discovered on the shores of Lac Fortune in 1906, by Alphonse Olier and Auguste Renault. This first discovery was notable, but didn’t result in an immediate gold rush and mine development in the region.

Instead, it was a gold discovery in 1909 further west that kicked off what would be known as the Porcupine Gold Rush in Northern Ontario. The dome-shaped rock where the gold vein was discovered was developed into the Dome mine, which grew to become one of the three historic mines in the Timmins area.

Along with the establishment of the Dome mine, this gold rush also saw the development of the Hollinger and McIntyre mines which were both producing gold by 1912. These three mines have served as powerhouses of Canadian gold production for decades, delivering more than 45 million ounces of gold collectively.

Mine Gold Produced
Dome Mine 17M oz
Hollinger Mine 19.5M oz
McIntyre Mine 10.8M oz

Source: Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry

This first gold rush was just the beginning of the Abitibi region’s mining boom, with other discoveries on the Quebec side of the region also being developed around the same time.

The Mining Boom on the Cadillac Fault

As the Dome, Hollinger, and McIntyre mines were being developed and started producing gold, another key gold discovery occurred in the Malartic-Val d’Or region. This discovery by J.J. Sullivan and Hertel Authier wasn’t quite enough for mine development to begin right away, but further discoveries in the surrounding areas were highlighting the golden exploration potential of the Abitibi region.

In 1922, Edmund Horne discovered a gold deposit near Osisko Lake, not far from the first gold discovery by Lac Fortune with Tom Powel discovering a rich gold vein nearby the same year. A third gold discovery in 1923 in the Malartic area by the Gouldie brothers marked the beginning of a mining development boom all along the Cadillac fault where these discoveries were occurring.

Over the next two decades, the fault saw hundreds of mining claims every year, with the towns of Rouyn, Noranda, Cadillac, and Malartic all growing alongside mine development and production. By 1931, Rouyn and Noranda had become the second and third most cosmopolitan cities in Quebec after Montreal, with gold mines bringing waves of workers and explorers.

Leaps in Gold Exploration Technology

Over the following decades, technological advances in transportation and deposit detection have allowed gold discovery and development to flourish in the Abitibi region. Aerial detection methods helped identify new deposits, and the development of Canada’s sprawling railway systems allowed for easier access and transportation of materials and people.

These advances resulted in the discovery of the Detour Lake deposit along with discoveries that would go on to become the Ansil, Doyon, and Louvicourt mines. Today, historic mines born from decade-old discoveries like Detour Lake and the Malartic mine are still producing gold.

Across the many different mining camps, the Abitibi region has produced more than 190 million ounces of gold and counting today.

Mining Camp Gold Produced
Timmins 76.6M oz
Kirkland Lake 46.8M oz
Doyon-Bousquet-LaRonde 25M oz
Rouyn-Noranda 19.5M oz
Val D’Or 18.4M oz
Malartic 10.5M oz
Holloway-McDermott 3.8M oz
Chibougamau 3.2M oz
Detour Lake 3M oz
Casa Berardi 3M oz
Beattie and Donchester 1.5M oz

Sources: MNDM Statistics, Kirkland Lake Gold, CBay Minerals, Agnico Eagle, Hecla Mining Company, Midland Exploration

The Abitibi’s Golden Geology and Undiscovered Future

The Abitibi’s storied history of gold discovery and production stems from its 2.6 billion year old greenstone belt, the defining geological factor of the region. Greenstone belts are ancient terrain formed by volcanic flows alongside sedimentary rocks that often contain orebodies of gold, copper, silver, lead, and zinc.

Formed over millions of years, greenstone belts begin with the rising of lava and magma through crustal faults that fill a variety of basins across the region. Over extended time, erosion and plate tectonics resulted in high amounts of pressure and heat compressing layers of greenstone rock and gold-bearing volcanic flows to form orebodies of gold and other minerals.

Covering the greenstone belt and its golden deposits is a layer of overburden, topsoil that can range from 1-20 meters of depth. Many of the early discoveries were located near to the surface, leaving further gold potential at depth to future generations.

While many of the areas with thin overburden have been heavily explored and developed, explorers in the region like Clarity Gold are working to discover the gold deposits that lie further underneath thick layers of overburden.

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Ford will spend $250 million to boost F-150 Lightning production



Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning is clearly in high demand, and the company is determined to keep up. The automaker has paired news of pre-production work with a promise to invest an extra $250 million and create 450 new jobs to increase production capacity. That should help Ford build 80,000 Lightning trucks per year — little comfort when the company now has 150,000 reservations, but the move should reduce wait times.

Most of the jobs will go to workers assembling the electric F-150 at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, while others will build more batteries at the Rawsonville Components Plant and motors at the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center. The first trucks should be available in spring 2022.

The production numbers won’t compete with conventional trucks for a while. As Autoweek observed, Ford averaged sales of about 900,000 regular F-150 trucks per year before the pandemic and chip shortages came into play. While the Lightning may be more than a niche product, it’s not yet at the point where Ford would have to reconsider its conventional truck production.

There’s also a certain amount of posturing involved with the news. Ford is clearly eager to please a government promoting made-in-America EVs. However, it’s still a recognition of pent-up demand for electric pickups, both from Ford and from the industry as a whole. Not that Ford might have much choice. With Rivian already producing its first trucks, Ford risks losing sales to competitors if it doesn’t ramp up manufacturing.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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