Saturday, July 13, 2024

What is the Potential of OSINT Analytics for Businesses

Open-source intelligence is a new-era methodology, that rapidly expands and conquers the market of Business analytics and other data-related processes.

For most, it is still just a bunch of words, that do not explain the potential benefits for business. So, what is the potential of OSINT analytics for businesses?

OSINT Explained

Open-source intelligence is a methodology, based on gathering arrays of unstructured data from public sources such as newspapers, social media platforms, etc. After collection, the data is processed and transformed into potentially useful information. 

For instance, thanks to OSINT analysis, you can find new vulnerabilities in your software, learn more about your target audience’s needs and requirements, find new niches, etc. Using open-source intelligence can bring many advantages and help to improve your business. 

Frankly, the variety of sources for your OSINT analysis, and the potential reason to do it can change, depending on the cases. Besides, modern OSINT is not limited only to open sources: Potentially, you can obtain more structured data with limited access. For instance, a database of your clients is usually not public information. Still, collecting such data using cookies, browsing history, or cache can be considered OSINT.

To sum up, open-source intelligence is not always public. It can vary, depending on the type of information you need to collect, and the goal you want to achieve by analyzing it. Instead, it is worth considering it as a methodology for collecting and processing data, which helps to make better assumptions and decisions.

OSINT vs Data Mining

Judging from the abovementioned, it is possible to assume, that open-source intelligence is similar to data mining. Yet, it is not.

One of the major differences between OSINT and data mining is their scale:

  • Open-source intelligence is a set of practices, used to achieve particular results – find information on a certain topic.
  • Data Mining is a general and constant process, that aims to define patterns, and trends by analyzing large datasets for further assumptions. 

To cut a long story short, OSINT is designed for cases when you know what you are looking for, have an idea of where to find this data, and how to do it. Thus, you perform limited research, to find required data and process it. That’s it.

At the same time, data mining is a better choice, when you have an assumption of what you might find, yet are not sure. Thus, data mining is constant and aims at getting as much data, as possible. This helps define tendencies and trends more accurately and precisely. 

Nevertheless, despite the difference in purposes and scale, both open-source intelligence and data mining can be performed with the same tools and methods.

How to Perform OSINT?

Open-source intelligence primarily aims at open-source information. So, during OSINT analysis, you will deal with third-party software and databases. 

Hence, one of the easiest ways to perform open-source intelligence is to use custom software tools, designed for such purposes as Maltego, SEON, Lampyr, etc. Nevertheless, using third-party software might be a challenge. Besides, each such OSINT tool has its limitations and usage specifics. In other words, it is hard to use a single OSINT instrument for all types of analysis and data collection.

To simplify it, any OSINT analysis can be divided into a few crucial steps:

  • Planning is when you must define your goals and how to achieve them.
  • Discovery phase to examine the opportunities and choose potential sources to collect data from (official databases, social networks, research, publications, etc)
  • Choosing tech stack, to choose the most suited and efficient tools or ways to crawl the required data
  • Data crawling when you gather the needed data, using the instruments
  • Data processing, when you process data and transform unstructured data into structured information
  • Data Analysis, when you analyze the results of your open-source intelligence and make decisions

On the one hand, performing all these steps manually is possible. Still, such an approach is not as efficient, as using OSINT tools, which can noticeably speed up the data crawling and automate it. However, using OSINT instruments has its pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of OSINT Tools

Advantages of OSINT Instruments

  1. OSINT Automatization

One of the most important benefits of using OSINT tools is data crawling automation. To cut a long story short, all you have to do – is to set up the processes, and OSINT instruments will do the rest. Starting with data crawling, and ending with analysis.

Open-source intelligence instruments offer many features for automation. Sometimes, it is only possible to gather data by using specific software. For example, most SEO practices are based on crawlers, which collect and analyze the content of websites. Otherwise, it would take ages to achieve even small results. 

  1. Improved OSINT Experience

Using OSINT tools for process automation significantly simplifies the task for the analysts. Thus, specialists can pay more attention to other tasks and performance.

For instance, why should you spend time on data collection and structurization, if you can spend it on data analysis and decision-making instead?

  1. OSINT Cost Efficiency

Finally, OSINT tools help to cut the time of analysis. As a result, it also helps to save expenses.

Just like with any other job, open-source intelligence has its price. However, by using third-party OSINT tools, you can cut the time and cost of research. It is easier and cheaper to automate data collection and processing, delegating only data analysis to your specialists, instead of asking them to perform all the other steps manually.

Drawbacks of OSINT Analytics Tools

  1. Limited Functionality of OSINT Analytics

One of the major drawbacks of choosing open-source intelligence and analytics is its limitations.

Unfortunately, most modern OSINT analytics tools offer limited features and are mainly designed for particular tasks, or can work with certain types of information and data sources. Therefore, finding the required tools for OSINT analytics automation might be challenging.

Furthermore, many software solutions are paid, so you should count all the pros and cons, before choosing certain OSINT tools for analytics. The easiest way to deal with this issue – is to hire a dedicated development team, capable of developing a custom OSINT solution for your needs.

  1. OSINT Data Quality Issues

Another important factor to take into account – the quality of collected data.

Before you crawl and analyze data from various open sources – ensure they are trustworthy. The simplest way is to look for reliable sources and fact-checking.

  1. Ethical and Legal Regulations of OSINT

Finally, some types of data like personal information, are protected by the law. Numerous regional and international regulations like GDPR define the privacy status of certain data and its security requirements.

Besides, even if data is unprotected and displayed in open-source, using it for OSINT analysis sometimes might be considered unethical.  

The Potential of OSINT Analytics for Businesses

So, what are the benefits and potential of using OSINT analytics for business?

Frankly, it is too general and limitless conception, to make actual predictions. Instead of thinking of OSINT analytics as finding and analyzing open-source information, think of open-source intelligence as a methodology of collecting, managing, and manipulating data, transforming it into structured and valuable information.

Such a point of view on open-source intelligence answers your main question. Working with data and knowing how to transform it into valuable insights is one of the main tasks for each modern business, regardless of the industry or niche.

Hence, learning and adopting at least the basic principles of OSINT analysis gives a major advantage for any type of business and makes it more flexible and competitive.

Among the most obvious advantages of using open-source intelligence for business needs, common in the modern world we can name:

  • Better customer experience and satisfaction: thanks to modern OSINT methods, business owners can learn more about their target audience, its needs and requirements, desires, etc. As a result, you can offer your clients exactly what they are looking for, or, unwillingly strive for.
  • Improved market research: open-source intelligence and analysis proposes many tools and methods for market research. Thus, business owners can better understand the competition in their niche, or define the market landscape more accurately, getting valuable insights to compete.
  • Better risk assessment and control: by gathering and examining data, businesses can define potential threats and risks faster. So, using open-source tools helps to avoid and predict unwanted risks.
  • Deeper knowledge of your suppliers, competitors, customers, and partners: OSINT creates an opportunity for anyone to learn more about their potential partners. Even the simplest research, based on OSINT methods gives a much deeper understanding of what or whom you are dealing with. So, apart from knowing your partners and what to expect from them, you can also find potential threats or vulnerabilities of your rivals. 

AI-powered OSINT for Business: Fake or Reality?

Despite numerous automation tools, modern OSINT analysis is still a resource-intensive task, which demands human involvement.

Nevertheless, the popularization of AI-powered tools and the improvement of machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms shape a new reality – AI-powered OSINT research.

At the moment, there are numerous AI-powered tools, used for countless purposes. Still, AI-powered OSINT has a few limitations and pitfalls, which must be resolved in the next few years. For instance, any OSINT analysis, even the most automated one, requires a professional expert involved. Thus, this expert can make the final decision and consider which data is valuable, and which is not. 

Alternatively, AI-powered OSINT can potentially perform this task as well. To rephrase it, AI-powered OSINT tools can significantly transform open-source intelligence, making it a full-fledged and independent process, that can be performed in the background, and show the results.

At the moment, there are many projects, related to custom AI-powered tools development. Many dedicated development teams for hire are already working on creating and testing AI-powered OSINT software. So, if you want to achieve an even bigger advantage over your competitors, you can consider hiring a dedicated team of experts, familiar with such software tools development, instead of tracking the latest news on AI-powered OSINT development.


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