The Top Five Different Types of OSINT | OSINT Insights

Open source intelligence gathering is often a broader term for dozens of different subtypes, disciplines, and fields within the intelligence-gathering industry. Below we will break down the most known types of digital intelligence.

  • Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

In most cases, intelligence work begins with the evaluation of openly available information. This includes information from specialist journals as well as from databases. However, our OSINT specialists can do much more: Using special research tools, they can find content relevant to their case in the flood of available information. In addition, they can evaluate foreign-language content within a short time or research indicators that are suitable for risk analyses.

  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

HUMINT is defined as intelligence derived from information obtained and provided by human sources. It consists of a wide range of intelligence gathering activities, which may or may not assist other intelligence disciplines. Today, depending on the research, HUMINT is combined along with OSINT, Cyber Intelligence, and IMINT.

It is essential to know that Human Source Intelligence does not necessarily refer to those involved in covert or secret espionage activities but to any information obtained through a human source, such as social engineering.

  • Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)

When analysts want to know how far the construction progress of a foreign nuclear facility has advanced or whether current social media rumors about military troop movements are true, satellite or aerial photographs are often a good starting point.

IMINT (or Imagery Intelligence) focuses on acquiring, analyzing, and interpreting images or photographs to gather data and information for decision-making. Imagery Intelligence is widely used by military and government agencies since the collection of satellite images provides sufficient geopolitical knowledge to make decisive decisions.

  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

Whether satellite or wireline communications, e-mails, or voice-over-IP (VOIP): the spectrum of electronic communications is broad and constantly changing. State-of-the-art recording and filtering technology for global data streams are accessible by both citizens and government agencies.

  • Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT)

SOCMINT is often considered a subbranch of open source intelligence since it uses social media as it’s core research platform instead of the expansive field of intelligence in traditional OSINT. You can read more about our SOCMINT summary here.

Juleigh Vargas
Juleigh Vargas
Juleigh Vargas is a registered RN and WOC certified. She takes her medical experience and education to contribute against health and medical misinformation.

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