Not only did OSINT assist with accurate news reporting, it also helped the civilians on the ground make well-informed decisions and escape combat zones.
There was no specific OSINT highlight for me in 2022. The fact that the importance of OSINT is increasing is a statement that is made again and again. Nevertheless, I think that in 2022 OSINT skyrocketed. Primarily, this is due to the war in Ukraine. We could witness OSINT being used to track troop movements or document human rights abuses. Using open source intelligence, Russian disinformation was exposed and debunked.
As a result of the rapid increase, more people are now engaging with OSINT, but this also brings disadvantages. Many do not distinguish between open source information (OSINF) and open source intelligence (OSINT). Especially in times of propaganda and disinformation campaigns, verification should be given special attention. Just recently, news circulated that the whereabouts of Andrew Tate had been revealed by a pizza box. To date, there are no reliable sources for this. Of course, it is possible, and I admit that I too celebrate such stories, when criminals are caught by OPSEC fails, but we have the responsibility to be even more careful not to commit the very mistakes we criticize others for.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of tools. Even though I maintain my own tool collection (https://osintgeek.de/tools), I don’t like the high attention that is given to tools. Based on the motto, a brush does not make a Picasso, it depends on the analyst who utilizes it. That being said, over the past year I’ve been looking more intensively at automating certain tasks with programs like Maltego in combination with the command line or Python.
As Bruce Schneier once wrote, “In general, it’s easy to predict technological changes due to scientific advances, but much harder to predict social changes due to those technological changes.” Consequently, I find it extremely difficult to draw any conclusions about future changes. In my opinion, the OSINT community is currently experiencing a shock due to the recent changes on Twitter. For many, Twitter has been the primary platform for networking and sharing experiences about OSINT on the one hand, but also a source for events around the globe on the other. Many secured accounts on Mastodon and shared alternative ways to connect. For me, Mastodon is not an adequate replacement, as such, it remains exciting.
You will always be able to contact me through my website (https://osintgeek.de). As a lecturer, I primarily focus on OSINT in German-speaking countries.
However, I will be co-teaching the course “Fundamentals of Cyber Investigations and Human Intelligence” with Christina Lekati (https://twitter.com/ChristinaLekati) at Black Hat Asia 2023. In fact, this is a unique opportunity as it will be the only class open to the public.
Other than that, I have a lot planned for 2023 as well. Together with Matthias Wilson (https://twitter.com/MwOsint), we will make another attempt to host the German Open Source Intelligence Conference (https://gosintcon.de). Unfortunately, we had to cancel the conference in 2022. So we are looking forward to numerous submissions. Furthermore, we will start with a new podcast “OSINT Studio”. In order to stay up to date on all topics I recommend subscribing to my newsletter (https://osintgeek.de/newsletter). Beware it’s in German ;-)