What is the number one factor that can obstruct OSINT investigations?
The answer is probably looking back at you in the mirror.
All too many conversations regarding open-source intelligence focus on exciting tools and techniques.
A quick Google search for OSINT will reveal endless articles on using such-and-such a system to extract a bounty of data.
But any tool or tactic is only as effective as the human analyst employing them.
And unfortunately for us, that tends to be the source of many problems throughout the intelligence cycle.
We are all hard-wired with cognitive biases – a collection of mental shortcuts that help our brains make sense of large amounts of data.
Our ancestors needed these heuristics to scratch out a living on the African savanna.
But they create problems for us when navigating the modern world. And cognitive biases can lead to bad decisions in everything from investing and business to household shopping.
Or in the case of OSINT investigations specifically, these mental shortcuts can result in faulty analysis.
So how can we address this problem?
Savvy analysts have the humility to admit that they suffer from common cognitive biases.
Then they take specific steps throughout the intelligence cycle to address these possible pitfalls.
But first, it makes sense to take inventory of these psychological shortcuts and then understand how they might seep into our analysis.
Of course, a complete list and description of our cognitive biases goes beyond the scope of this article.
And, for the record, psychologists have documented almost 200 such heuristics.
So for this post, we wanted to highlight the top five cognitive biases that can obstruct OSINT investigations.
We also detailed strategies and techniques to safeguard against these heuristics.