Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) uses an extensive variety of sources to gather valuable information. Common sources of OSINT include public data, academic literature, the media, and web-based communities. The most unique sources of OSINT are the media and public data. The media as a source of information includes newspapers, magazines, radios, television, and the Internet. The Internet enables provision of entertainment and encourages massive human interaction. One can acquire information about OSINT from magazines and newspapers such as South China Morning Post in China and The Strait Times in Singapore. The advantage of using the media is that it enables one to obtain and exchange information with other analysts in any media and obtain it in real time.
Public data is a massive OSINT source. It provides information on speeches, official data, budgets, government reports, criminal justice investigation, health care records, and proceedings. Public data enables one to obtain clean, timely, accurate, and first hand information. By researching extensively on various online sources, from the media and acquiring public data one can obtain some knowledge of a subject and should be able to use the intelligence to get information about a subject, an individual, a group of people, and a company or a country.
While generating a report, I will consider four steps that I should follow in acquiring accurate data. The first step is to discover the sources of information on the subject. It includes knowing where to get the information and the people to give the necessary information. In this case, the information can be derived from the Internet, radio, television, magazines, journals, and government reports. To ensure that the process of collecting data suits the process I will interact with the subject. I will perform interviews and closely follow the clues. It is important for me to verify the sources of information.
The second stage involves choosing the appropriate sources of information. In this stage, I will soberly judge between bad and good information, cost effective and cost ineffective information, current and outdated information, and relevant and non-relevant information. I will also decide on the weight of the sources while avoiding being biased. The third stage involves the distillation stage. I will check the facts, comments, data and useful information, and take what I have gathered and sift it completely to get the relevant core data. It will ensure that the final research report is direct to the point and can easily communicate to the decision maker the essence of the collective wisdom relevant to the decision under consideration. The final stage involves the delivery of the report. After preparing the report, I will ensure that it is delivered to the decision-maker in time, secured and in a format which can be easily understood.
An investigative journalist is a non-intelligence community user of OSINT. The investigative journalists use the Internet databases, primary interviews and leaks as an investigative tool to write objective features and captivating stories. Investigative journalists use OSINT to get information on the research subject because of some reasons. First of all, OSINT sources have the necessary depth and breadth of information. They give clear insights and well-explained answers requested by the journalists. Secondly, OSINT provide the most part of the relevant background information on any subject. It ensures that there is continuity of the activity of generating intelligence knowledge. Thirdly, it provides answers to the requirements. The ready availability, depth, and wide variety of information in the public enables the investigative journalist to meet information and intelligence requirements without the help of human technical mode of collection, which in many cases, proves to be costly, time-consuming, and highly involving. Lastly, OSINT support surveillance activities by giving readily available solutions to intelligence. It supplies information such as technical data and cultural information.