We recently talked to Warren Bulmer, a police officer with the Toronto Police Service and an Internet-facilitated investigations specialist, about the rise in popularity of OSINT and the growing demand for in-depth training.
Collecting open source intelligence is rapidly becoming more and more commonplace. In fact, according to Warren Bulmer, law enforcement agencies now recognize OSINT as a necessary part of all investigations. Not just as an optional extra or reactionary measure, but an integral part of every case from the get go.
So you can imagine just how much information there is floating about out there. Now compare that to a traditional database, like the ones used by law enforcement agencies.
Not if, but how
As Warren pointed out, it’s no longer a question of whether or not law enforcement agencies should be incorporating open source intelligence into their investigations. It’s got to the stage where they simply need to decide how to go about it.
“I get requests all the time, from law enforcement agencies, the private sector, insurance companies, financial institutions and so on, about how to conduct open source investigations,” Warren tells us. “They want to know how to search for information, how to compile it. Where to start, basically.”
A growing demand for in-depth knowledge
Warren believes that the majority already understand the importance of online research, but that people are simply too overwhelmed by the process. The main reason being lack of knowledge and the right tools to do it properly.
And it’s not just law enforcement. Warren points out that the problem exists in all industries and business sectors. Like the insurance industry, for example, where he’s provided training on the subject.
“It’s an industry where background checks and claims fraud detection are a big part of the job, and yet a lot of insurance companies aren’t entirely sure how to go about it.” Warren explains. “They’re usually worried that what they’re doing might be illegal or seen as spying.”
“One question that investigators often ask me is whether it’s okay to search through people’s Facebook pages for information,” he says. “Open source intelligence investigating is definitely gaining ground. But there’s also a growing demand for in-depth knowledge and a better understanding of it.”
Bridging the knowledge gap
According to Warren, the general lack of knowledge about OSINT isn’t really due to the actual investigators. He believes that a lot of the time the problem lies with the management, executives and decision-makers. They are the ones who need to fully understand the legitimacy and benefits of OSINT.
We’re doing everything we can here at Paliscope to share our knowledge and experience with the rest of the world. And, with your help, hopefully we can help bridge the knowledge gap and make investigations just that little bit easier for everyone.
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