OSINT applications are used by law enforcement agencies and public institutions to help improve their activities against criminality and in support of safety for citizens. In this post, we’ll look at three examples of areas where OSINT applications could be employed to support the fight against crime.
Examples of OSINT applications:
According to Pew Research, 65% of American adults use social media, which means that individuals have at least one social profile containing a variety of personal and professional information. For organizations that protect citizens from abuse, domestic and sexual violence, especially children and women, social media channels can be a valuable source of information to help prevent, monitor and evaluate situations before they escalate. This information can be used in several ways; from a tactical standpoint to identify critical/urgent cases, and from a strategic standpoint to identify growing trends and phenomena of functional interest for defining efficient support strategies.
In both cases, OSINT applications that can read and understand the meaning of text content, especially in the slang, abbreviations, acronyms, etc. typical of social media communications, offer a high level of efficiency in identifying information of interest.
Tax evader detection
In nations where government agencies are heaviliy committed to combatting tax evasion and related activities, web content such as news, blogs and social networks, especially data concerning famous companies and celebrities are of great value.
Using OSINT applications customized for the analyst’s requirements, it’s possible to retrieve precise and contextual information from big data on the events, behaviors, lifestyles, activities, and professional and personal relationships of a single target. This data is vital for fiscal inspectors who need in-depth information in order to recover large sums of undeclared income.
Anti-counterfeiting activities have become more and more complex due in part to the mass use of the Web and the proliferation of sites that blatantly offer counterfeit products for sale.
These types of offers are increasingly present among the tens of thousands of messages published in daily postings. The economic damage is obvious, but there is also a great danger for the consumer who is unaware of what he is buying (i.e. counterfeit pharmaceuticals, clothing or jewelry).
Text mining and OSINT applications can extract the key elements present within a posting such as: vendor alias, email, telephone number, brand, product, etc. This data is then compared to identify the typical characteristics of a counterfeit product (i.e. available only in certain sizes) and to highlight the correlation between the data (i.e. a connection between vendors and/or repeated events between vendors).
For law enforcement officials who work to prevent crimes before they happen, protect citizens and catch criminals, OSINT applications offer a tremendous opportunity for tapping into large volumes of information from multiple sources, including open sources, in real time.