It’s time to harness the power of open source intelligence (OSINT)

Ladanna James
By
Ladanna James
Head of Marketing & Business Development
It’s time to harness the power of open source intelligence (OSINT)

There are tried and true ways in which organizations conduct their due diligence before making a major commitment to a deal or aligning with individual stakeholders. Risk management and compliance teams routinely conduct criminal and background checks. They consult sanctions and watchlists. Some companies want to know if the people behind entities are politically exposed persons (PEPs). These types of screening activities are foundational to an effective due diligence process.

Yet, many of these same organizations don’t routinely integrate open source intelligence (OSINT) into their compliance and due diligence programs. And, if they do, it’s often done haphazardly or on an adhoc basis. They don’t have a consistent process, and their random keyword searches lead to irrelevant results. They get a lot of false positives when it comes to identifying the right people. The process is often time-consuming, and the list of challenges goes on.

Open source intelligence (OSINT) is a powerful data collection method that not enough organizations are taking advantage of. OSINT is the collection of data from publicly available online sources. It’s a way of classifying and analyzing the billions of historical records online and the millions more being posted every day. Failure to harness OSINT and include the process into a robust and rigorous risk management program can result in potential reputational damage. And, reputational damage can have material impact on an organization. The truth is that the use of OSINT can bolster your risk aversion efforts and should be an integral part of your business’ risk management process.

If you aren’t leveraging OSINT technologies, you’re missing out on a core practice that can optimize and facilitate your risk assessment procedures.

How OSINT can help you mitigate risk

What is the best way to look for a needle in a haystack? If the haystack is the internet and the needle is a specific piece of information you’re looking for, OSINT is your powerful magnetic action that will pull out the needle. There’s a plethora of information available online, and OSINT allows businesses and organizations to stay ahead of potential security or reputation threats by scouring the internet.

There are many OSINT-based tools out there, but with defined objectives, OSINT tools can help you cross-check facts, find links between people and organizations, and also test for internal IT breaches. This data can then be analyzed to find irregularities pointing to the possibility of fraud. It can also reveal potentially risky relationships that can negatively impact an organization’s reputation or even reveal weaknesses within an organization’s data security.

Benefits of open source intelligence

Because it can help you investigate and analyze so much information, OSINT methods can save you time, eliminating the need for time-consuming, often inefficient manual internet searches. Its speed is accompanied by a defined search, so it’ll find relevant information that matters. It helps you manage your needs, and in turn, will save you both time and money.

Open source intelligence is accessible and moldable. It has so many different uses because you’re in control. You pick how you want this method to work for you, because you set the search conventions. Ultimately, it helps you prioritize and allows you the freedom to protect yourself from the potential of unexpected risk.  

How Valital uses OSINT technology

Valital’s AI-powered adverse media monitoring platform uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI that enables computers to extract language from unstructured text. The AI learns human language and uses content and context to perform real-time search and pulse analyses of open-source intelligence, flagging misconducts related to universally recognized misbehaviours: discrimination, financial crime/fraud, harassment, violence and addiction.

Valital is in the business of strengthening organizations’ risk management programs by providing a tool dedicated to mitigating reputational risk. The ability to analyze adverse online news is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. OSINT collection and analysis is an added weapon in an organization’s due diligence arsenal.

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