The most well-known and least well-known intelligence area today may be found in open-source intelligence (OSINT). It includes all information about a particular topic that is now publicly available and derived from all current sources. Due to this, its range is extensive, and citizens have long used the information they learned from conflict to inform and assist their forces in battle.
OSINT has changed over time in tandem with the technology it depends on. OSINT has a long history of supporting civilian war operations, from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service during the Second World War to geolocated images of Russian forces captured by Ukrainian civilians on their cell phones.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the rapid development of contemporary technology has put OSINT in an unheard-of spotlight. Today’s usage of open-source intelligence has developed from a largely voluntary activity carried out by determined individuals to a flourishing academic discipline with government agencies establishing their OSINT divisions.
OSINT has ushered in a new kind of information warfare and put Ukraine under the spotlight with ongoing social media discussion, continuous uploads of smartphone film, and improved accessibility of satellite image technologies. It has begun to reveal to the world’s public combat elements that were unimaginable before.
Internet sleuths and OSINT volunteers now have access to a multitude of information thanks to constantly developing technology, which they can sort through utilizing new, primary and sophisticated techniques. Google Maps traffic information revealed a coordinated Russian army movement close to the Ukrainian border.
Through NASA satellite data from space-based SAR (synthetic aperture radar) sensors, OSINT analysts discovered preparation and stockpiling in Russian warehouses. These sensors can see through cloud cover and various construction materials, providing a rough estimate of some of Russia’s resource availability. Early intelligence on troop movements and armaments can be essential for the international community to plan a coordinated reaction and for the Ukrainian military to plan and prepare.
Today’s reliance on social media has also made much strategic information available. Russian soldiers frequently tag their social media accounts and their fellow soldiers’ accounts in images they post to Telegram and VK. These images often also contain a location identifier or, at the very least, significant hints, like uniforms from separate battalions or backrops with pictures of military installations.