OSINT can be vague. Many professionals linked to Security, Intelligence, Journalism, and Technology are continuously looking for the best OSINT techniques and tools.
In the age of information, social networks, massive digitalization, the Internet of Everything, and transparency, whoever knows how to obtain information from open sources has much to gain personally and professionally.
OSINT, also known as Open Source Intelligence, is not only an essential complement for any professional’s skill set, it has become a profession in itself. Knowing how to search for data and information about people, facts, companies or institutions is important, but knowing how to locate the information you need, when you need it, is essential to be able to make good decisions.
That is why all human resources companies agree: being an expert in OSINT techniques and tools is not a profession of the future, it is a profession of radiant actuality. The OSINT and OSINT-adjacent field is expected to boom in the next decade, which we analyzed in this post.
This article will break down some of the possible career paths with a strong foundation and knowledge of OSINT.
Professional Roles in OSINT
Normally, in any professional environment that applies Intelligence, professional roles are well defined. Usually, all the intelligence functions belonging to the Intelligence Cycle are carried out by:
Directors: lead the Intelligence Unit, manage resources, and plan/prioritize activities based on the Intelligence Directive. To know how to run an Intelligence Unit click here.
The Obtainers: select their sources and obtain information from them, whether they are human sources, open sources, images, signals, or any other. To know how to choose and evaluate the reliability of your sources, click here.
Intelligence Analysts: they contrast the information obtained and produce intelligence through the application of structured and unstructured intelligence techniques. They then write up the conclusions of their analysis in what are called Intelligence Reports to assist in decision making. To learn such analysis and report writing techniques, we recommend you enroll in this course.
In contrast, in OSINT environments and investigations, there is no such clear segmentation by specialties, except in intelligence units with many resources and personnel. In almost all professional environments where OSINT is applied, there are two variables:
The OSINT professional is an expert in open source intelligence gathering (something typical of the Gathering phase) but, due to the volatility, variability, and disparity of the information he finds, he or she must have high-level information about the objectives of his investigation.
Likewise, it is also necessary for the OSINT professional to have certain analytical capabilities, to be able to evaluate the information as he finds it, going deeper and/or pivoting according to what he finds at each moment.
For that reason, we speak indistinctly of OSINT gatherers and OSINT analysts in many occasions, as they are usually multidisciplinary hybrid profiles.
Hence, it is necessary for any OSINT professional to have knowledge of resource management and intelligence units as well as of Intelligence Analysis.
OSINT Career Opportunities
As we have seen, Intelligence is essential for any organization and decision-maker. We wrote more in-depth on ‘Who Uses OSINT’ here.
More and more large companies have competitive Intelligence departments whose job is, among others, to obtain information through OSINT techniques about customers, the market and competitors on a permanent basis in order to inform the different Area Management about the information they need when they need it.
Any Security Department of public or private companies nowadays has professionals who use open sources to anticipate risks and threats, and even investigate them in order to be able to denounce them afterward. All Security Forces and Corps, as well as the Armed Forces, have professionals specialized in OSINT, especially those dedicated to crime prevention and investigation, in order to be able to investigate terrorist organizations, violent groups or criminal organizations more effectively and efficiently.
All Private Investigation Agencies or Detectives apply OSINT in their investigations either as a main or complementary channel of investigation. Occasionally, some have even incorporated Intelligence Analysts, becoming known as Private Intelligence Services.
All law firms, whether commercial, criminal, labor or any other specialty, apply OSINT to increase the accuracy of their investigations and thus better prepare the cases in which they participate either as prosecution or defense. OSINT is also used by lawyers in M&A transactions to perform due diligence.
As you know, intelligence is used to anticipate risks and opportunities. Although taking advantage of opportunities is essential for any organization, in general terms, risks are usually more critical than opportunities, since they can condition the very existence or even survival, whether we are analyzing personal, organizational or even country risks.