Nov 09 2021

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) for Surveillance

As much as we have faith in what's possible with OSINT even we sometimes have to acknowledge that sometimes investigations need to be taken offline - we took a look at how OSINT can assist when its necessary to do so.

It goes without saying that at NetWatch we regularly extol the virtues of OSINT and its potential to avoid the need for more intrusive investigations like surveillance. This is often the case as sometimes the evidence obtained from an online investigation will be so overwhelmingly powerful that nothing further will be needed. A prime example of this came just last week, when we investigated a case in which the subject had posted his medical results to Facebook – proving his insurance claim was a total fraud. In these circumstances there would simply be no need for any further investigation.

However, sometimes even we have to acknowledge that something a little more than OSINT is required. When this is the case, we use our trusted partners The Surveillance Group (TSG) to provide a range of enhanced investigation services, from manned surveillance to local area enquiries or even undercover operatives. There is more information on our relationship with The Surveillance Group here.

When surveillance is necessary, it isn’t simply a case of turning away from open-source intelligence – its important to leverage it where possible to ensure the surveillance gives you the result you need and there are a number of ways this can be done:

Pre-Surveillance Investigation

Prior to undertaking any form of surveillance, it would be foolish not to perform an OSINT investigation – especially as it may avoid the need for the observations altogether! When done right it will mean that you will be aware of any upcoming surveillance opportunities. If the subject is known to be travelling to work or an event, or even regularly attending sports groups or similar – the surveillance can be planned to coincide with these activities to ensure you get the best results possible.

More importantly a thorough pre-surveillance OSINT investigation will ensure that the surveillance team have up to date images of the subject and any co-habitants, an up-to-date address – and potentially be aware of any risk factors. If your surveillance investigation is about to commence without this information, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Temporary Intelligence Capture

If the subject of an investigation has a public social media account, such as Instagram, on which they post ‘stories’ that would typically disappear within 24 hours these can be leveraged in a number of ways to improve the surveillance outcome. If you aren’t familiar with Temporary Intelligence Capture from NetWatch and want to learn more READ THIS ARTICLE about the platform we built to securely capture temporary posts without leaving a footprint.

Using Temporary Intelligence Capture to Enhance Surveillance

Planning Ahead
Planning Ahead

Firstly, when active on the stories element of Instagram, users post much more insightful information and in greater quantities. As such its essential that these posts are being reviewed in the lead up to surveillance. If the subject is going on holiday, not going to be around, or making key plans – the chances are they are most likely to be revealed here. So, in reviewing these stories safely you can plan for a more effective operation.

Greater Insight
Greater Insight

Secondly, stories should be captured whilst surveillance is taking place. If a user is active they may post stories which can alert you to their plans for the day – or post pictures and videos from locations your team can’t access. As such, when these are reviewed alongside surveillance footage, they provide a much more complete picture of the day’s events. The posts can also add greater context to what the surveillance footage shows relative to a subject’s mood or demeanour at the time or even why they are in that location. Due to the Human Rights Act surveillance operatives can be restricted from obtaining footage in certain locations, but if a claimant chooses to publicly upload information or footage when at one of these locations then that evidence is admissible.

More Context
More Context

Finally, stories can be captured on days between periods of observation - there are several reasons to do this. Not least to provide a clearer picture of events over a longer period without incurring the cost of surveillance or risk of having a team trail the subject for days on end. But also, in cases such as a personal injury claim – temporary intelligence capture footage can negate ‘good day / bad day’ type arguments in which it is claimed that a subject may have been active during surveillance – but had to rest in the days afterwards due to over exertion.

The benefits of choosing NetWatch for your surveillance needs

When partnering with NetWatch for your open-source intelligence requirements you also gain access to a wide range of more extensive surveillance options.

Read More

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