We Are In The First Open Source Intelligence War

  • By Admin

We Are In The First Open Source Intelligence War

I am a member of OODA loop. They are a great team that keeps me up to date about InfoSec issues. Their site always has interesting articles and this one certainly got my attention. The title alone piqued my interest. I'm quoting the first few paragraphs and then link to the rest of the article. I think you will like it too:

"A thesis I cannot prove but I believe: We are witnessing the world’s first war where open source intelligence is providing more actionable insights than classified sources.

In this war:

  • Tiktok provided direct evidence of the nature of troop and equipment movements.
  • Commercial imagery showed field deployment locations, field hospitals, then proof of movement to invade.
  • Dating apps provided indications of which military units are being deployed.
  • Twitter gave a platform for highly skilled deeply experienced open source analysts to provide insights.
  • Cloud connected smartphones with a wide range of capabilities throughout Ukraine gave direct tactical insights into how the war was and is being prosecuted.
  • Open source analysts are listening into and translating military communications.
  • Cybersecurity analysts and cyber threat intelligence companies are sharing indicators of incidents faster than ever and before any tipping and queuing by government sources.
  • Historians with great context on culture and history are more rapidly collaborating and sharing relevant insights.

Much of the above is supported by new tools and applications and collaborative environments for individuals and non government groups.

All of this means, I believe, that this is the world’s first war where open source intelligence is the dominate source.


Open Source Intelligence is a phrase I’ve known since I began a career in the intelligence community in 1982. By that time the intelligence community had already spent decades developing processes to leverage information produced by adversaries (even though what they say would have a propaganda slant it provided useful insights). For example, one of the most widely known feeds of open source intelligence at the time was the reporting of FBIS, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which monitored and translated Soviet media sources.

Other open source intelligence also included great work by researchers and academics who studied everything they could on adversaries. An outstanding example from the Cold War was the body of knowledge produced by Harriet Fast Scott and William F. Scott, who were able to provide extensive insights into the internal power structure and military capabilities and intentions of the Soviet Union, all from reading open source intelligence.

Since then the world has changed dramatically. The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union crumbled, and a technological revolution swept over the globe. Old media companies lost their monopoly on delivery of information.  Individuals are now empowered by incredible compute power fed by an incredible array of sensors.   CONTINUED:


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