OSINT is Changing Thanks to Global Cyber & Geopolitical Conflicts

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Some say we live in the era of information and data, but as geopolitical conflicts rise, how easy is it for governments, military, defense contractors, and international businesses or organizations to access valuable data?

From the South China Sea conflict to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East, and increasing global nation-state-supported cyberattacks, regional information of value is becoming every day harder to come by. This is where OSINT comes in.

OSINT — open source intelligence — companies collect and analyze data gathered from public and open sources to provide strategic, actionable intelligence. And the OSINT market, driven by modern geopolitics, is booming.

Key Takeaways

  • The OSINT market is booming due to factors like global cyber threats and the need for cross-border intelligence.
  • AI is transforming OSINT by automating data processing and analysis, but human expertise remains crucial for identifying valuable sources and critical thinking.
  • OSINT helps organizations manage risk by providing insights from hard-to-reach regions, such as the South China Sea.
  • OSINT bridges the risk-confidence gap by providing actionable intelligence and mitigating data bias.

The State of the Global OSINT Market

The SNS insider report on the OSINT global market found that the sector is projected to grow to $36.93 billion by 2030 — a staggering fivefold increase.

This growth is being “propelled” by different factors, such as the global cybersecurity threat landscape and the “increasing need for cross-border intelligence”. Additionally, new technologies like advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence, and generative AI are dramatically transforming the operations of the big names in the OSINT including Thales Group, Google OSINT, Recorded Future, and Babel Street.

How AI is transforming OSINT

On May 22, Babel Street launched the Insights Elite Regional Access, promising to empower customers with hyper-focused, hard-to-access regional knowledge.


Developed for defense and security professionals, supply chain, risk managers, and global businesses, the platform is integrated with AI-powered insights proprietary software to provide, strategic insights into regional military capabilities, emerging threats, regional disruptions information, and more.

Techopedia sat with Jessica Lewis McFate, Sr. Director of Intelligence Solutions at Babel Street — an intelligence company integrating AI into its OSINT portfolio — to get the inside story on how real-time insights are produced to support data-driven decisions.

McFate is a West Point graduate who served as a U.S. Army officer with 34 months deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in signals intelligence, human intelligence, and counter-corruption roles specializing in open-source intelligence (OSINT) for national security.

McFate told Techopedia that the new Babel Solution solution allows users to analyze typically hard-to-reach publicly available information (PAI) through specialized access to key regions such as East Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

“AI and automation play central roles in processing, analyzing, and presenting relevant information and signals that can illuminate insights, but the human element remains essential.”

McFate explained that human-machine collaboration is important for organizations seeking to make informed decisions. “At the end of the day, it’s the synergy of human expertise and technological capabilities that yields the most valuable insights,” McFate said.

Babel Street is using AI to augment its workforce. A team of experts provides support, creates information strategies tailored to specific needs, and plays a vital role in identifying the most valuable and relevant sources, McFate explained.

“While AI and automation are powerful tools, they really empower human analysts to utilize their domain knowledge, contextual understanding, and critical thinking necessary to transform data into actionable intelligence”.

Real-world examples: OSINT in Action

McFate described the rigorous investigation, collection, and refinement of data processes that use proprietary methods and advanced technologies. But how do these services play out in the real world? McFate explained it for Techopedia:

“Consider the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea. The escalating risks pose potential disruptions for businesses operating in or around this region, such as shipping companies or global enterprises.


“Armed with these insights, a shipping company could quickly spot emerging threats and reroute vessels away from conflict zones, ensuring safety and minimizing disruptions.”

The value of regional secure, comprehensive, reliable, and relevant data from hard-to-reach regions in a world ripe with global uncertainties is undeniable. It allows organizations to manage risks effectively and make data-driven decisions.

McFate said the work is to empower decision-making through knowledge and provide organizations with a decision advantage.

“This localized intelligence helps them more effectively identify and respond to emerging risks and opportunities.”

Bridging the Risk-Confidence-Gap

When it comes to data, more does not necessarily mean better. An Oracle 2023 global study, The Data Dilemma, found that while most business leaders (83%) agree that access to more data should simplify decision-making, 86% say they feel less confident making decisions despite having more data.

The majority of those surveyed said that the growing volume of data has actually limited the success of their organization, with 72% admitting that the data overload has stopped them from making any decision at all.

Business leaders also said that the dashboards, charts, and reports they receive often do not relate to the decisions they have to make.

The problem is not just the amount of data but also the massive amount of data that is of bad quality or “not fit for business”.

The Office of the CFO 2024: Expectations vs Reality report of Pigment found that 89% of finance leaders are making monthly decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

Additionally, only one in four financial leaders say they have the confidence to make long-term plans (a year or more in advance). McFate spoke to Techopedia about how confidence gaps affect OSINT operations.

“In today’s landscape, organizations often face what we call a “risk-confidence gap” — the challenge of accurately analyzing risk in an era of overwhelming data, complex regulations, and rapidly evolving threats.”

“Our approach is to help close this gap by providing not just access to data but also the tools and features that enable users to extract actionable intelligence and insight efficiently,” McFate added.

The same Oracle found that leaders are open to automation, AI, and new technologies, with 70% of them saying they would prefer a robot to make their decisions.

The OSINT market, as mentioned, has already taken the first steps to integrate automation, despiting not focusing on replacing decision makers with AI. McFate spoke about automation and OSINT workflows.

“We turbo-charge open-source intelligence (OSINT) workflows with AI-enabled features that help users navigate the tremendous volume and complexity of multilingual information to accelerate findings.”

New Challenges: Ethics, AI, and Bias

OSINT companies also face new challenges — such as ethical data collection and AI bias — as they integrate AI and adapt to a more complex and interconnected yet disconnected world.

But McFate believes these challenges can be turned into leverage and opportunities.

“(OSINT)… offerings can be particularly valuable when it comes to mitigating bias. So much information circulating today is shaped by deliberate information strategies. By providing users with access to a diverse array of regional content, these solutions enable analysts to gather information from multiple vantage points and challenge assumptions or potential bias.”

The Future of OSINT

As McFate explained, the work is all about democratizing access to the intelligence that drives peak performance. “As the volume of content continues to grow exponentially, human interaction with systems and data will remain necessary,” McFate told Techopedia.

“In an increasingly complex and competitive world, every organization should have the tools they need to close the risk-confidence gap and make informed, confident decisions.”

Faced with increasing threats, a massive global escalation in data generation, and the complexities of informational warfare, the future of OSINT promises to be challenging but also highly demanded.


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Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist
Ray Fernandez
Senior Technology Journalist

Ray is an independent journalist with 15 years of experience, focusing on the intersection of technology with various aspects of life and society. He joined Techopedia in 2023 after publishing in numerous media, including Microsoft, TechRepublic, Moonlock, Hackermoon, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, and ServerWatch. He holds a degree in Journalism from Oxford Distance Learning and two specializations from FUNIBER in Environmental Science and Oceanography. When Ray is not working, you can find him making music, playing sports, and traveling with his wife and three kids.