Open Source Intelligence

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT (BLUF): You must submit your OSINT project NLT the last day of week 7. It is a combination of a 3-5 page topic development word document and a 10 slide PPT presentation with detailed note pages.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a passive OSINT collection exercise. Do not actively participate or interact in any way with the organization or individual in order to gain intelligence. For example, do not attempt to join a terrorist organization in order to gain intelligence. Only that which is readily available to you on the internet or in a library should be pursued. Do not join a site, engage directly with, or give your information to any entity in order to produce this project.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not rehash a previous assignment from another class. Remember, it is self-plagiarism to use work from another course for credit in another class without the permission and guidance of the professor.


Consider the following process while developing your topic.

1. Concisely describe and define a problem scenario and/or organization that could be targeted using Open Source (OSINT) intervention.
2. Explain why you selected this particular organization.
3. Review historical background and pertinent intelligence issues that relate to the organization.
4. Briefly describe how OSINT is likely to offer an effective solution to the tasked objective of horizon scanning and further open source collection.

Note(s): (1) Due to security and operationally sensitivity issues, it is not advised to select or examine one’s own organization for this assignment, particularly for those students associated with intelligence organizations. It is left to the student’s discretion to consider these security implications when selecting a topic. The following are a few examples of potential subjects that might be developed into a valid project topic:

  • Who is “anonymous”? In your analysis you should consider cost-benefits, proximity to the White House or lack thereof, political ambitions (probably lack thereof), motivation, previous use of the word lodestar or other phrases in the article, and more. For the Op-ed piece that appeared in the NYT on 5 SEP 18: See Link at the bottom of this email. Settle this question for us and the world.
  • Government Entities (focus on a specific country/region/group).
  • Terrorist Organizations (see an excellent example attached below).
  • Corporate Entities (focus on a specific business/individual).
  • Organized Crime (focus on a specific organization/individual).
  • Counter-narcotics (focus on a specific area, cartel, and/or drug dealer).
  • Government Contractors (focus on a specific business/individual)

(2) When developing the topic and researching the organization, one should consider themselves as being in a position of adequate stature so that the recommendations and observations made in this project paper will be considered. Caution should be given so as not to select an entity or organization that might be too broad in scope (i.e. Chase Bank, or the company formerly known as Blackwater) in order to provide the focused examination required of this project. Include peer-reviewed references that contribute to the substance of the paper, and support the topic thesis.

PART 2: (10 x slide PPT with note pages). THE PROJECT EXPECTATIONS:

1. It has been determined that over 90% of the raw intelligence data obtained by professional intelligence organizations is gained through open source intelligence collection.

2. The intelligence cycle is formally used by just about every organization in the world to one degree or another. This includes the Boy Scouts (national office in Washington, DC developing lobbying efforts.) and world religions, not to mention the FSB, the FBI, the US Department of Agriculture and so forth. Intelligence is not, and never has been, a function limited to military use. Intelligence is a vital force multiplier for every organization.

3. Open Source collection demands that collector knows where and how to look. Open Source collection is not limited to print or electronic sources. It also involves access to any openly promulgated information.

4. Once you begin collecting raw data, then determine what your main point of emphasis will be. Assume I am your boss, or your client. Assume I have assigned you this project: to learn about organization X. You choose the reason after you gather raw data since I do not know, nor do you perhaps, what exactly you will be able to gather in the few weeks assigned to this course. I want you thinking as an adversary. What information does our organization present that others can gather to harm us. In researching, don’t forget about the CEOs and their families, satellite photos, blueprints, activities, etc. What you find out is information that an adversary can use to their benefit.

5. Here is the process you should follow:

*identify a target organization you wish to investigate.
*begin collecting raw open source intel data on that target.
*the target may be one of personal or professional interest to you.
*use as many possible open source conduits as possible.
*do not just stick to books or the internet. Search. Use satellite photos, search tax records, etc.
*collect and then organize your data.
*determine your approach to this target based on how much data you have collected.
*analyze your data: what does it tell you?
*compose a PPT briefing (approximately 10 slides) with detailed note pages directed to me that explains your findings, and that is supported by your raw data and analysis. Accompany your PPT with a word document (approximately 3-5 pages double spaced in Chicago format) that covers the four areas of your topic development listed above.
*upload this PPT briefing and word document to the assignments section by the end of Week 7.

6. Do not substitute graphic heavy PPT slides in place of detailed analysis and text in the note pages all in proper Chicago author-date formatting.

7. An excellent example is attached for your review. This is not to intimidate, but rather to demonstrate how far one can go with this project. NOTE: Its format is not the same as above, i.e. the word document doesn’t follow the target choice format above and the PPT presentation doesn’t have note pages. You are to follow the formats and expectations above.

Citation and Reference Style

Students will follow the Chicago Style

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