When we talk about the work of gathering intelligence, most people conjure the image of a James Bond-esque spy, infiltrating an enemy organization under an assumed identity. But there’s another kind of intelligence gathering, just as important to commercial, military, diplomatic and political operations: open-source intelligence, or OSINT for short. OSINT is gathered from publicly available information sources like the news, government documents, and social media reports, among others. But in order to be effective, OSINT analysts have to be just as careful about concealing their online identities as clandestine operatives.
Online surveillance is just as prevalent and often more subtle than real-world surveillance. If the OSINT analyst doesn’t cover their tracks, it’s fairly easy for someone with the resources of a nation’s intelligence agency, or even a large corporation, to track down the identity of that analyst as they dig for information. The analyst must wipe away their digital fingerprints, so to speak.