National Security-oriented Social Network Open Source Intelligence Acquisition Methods

1. Focus on target audience

Following (subscribing) is a basic method to obtain dynamic information of target objects (individual or institutional users) on social networks. Following the target object on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can also obtain relevant information about their communication with others. By observing how a target object interacts with others, a network of social relationships can be mapped.

The intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States have used the social network model to establish a "social" international terrorist database. Intelligence personnel enter the information of thousands of suspects in this database, sort out their concerns and online chat objects through social network analysis programs, analyze their relationship with each other, and then find out the key people. From this, the leaders and key elements of the terrorist organization can be determined, and then the possible terrorist attacks can be further predicted.

This approach has been successfully used by the United States and the United Kingdom in counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this method also has two obvious drawbacks. One is that the way to obtain information is relatively passive and needs to wait for the target object to be updated. Second, when the number of target objects is large, manual screening is time-consuming and labor-intensive.

2. Topic search

When there is a relatively clear demand for intelligence topics. It can be manually searched by keywords in the search engine of the social networking site. The disadvantage of this method is that it cannot automatically track subject information for a long time, and it is easy to miss intelligence if it is not obtained in time.

3. Build a network of relationships

Using the interactive function of social network, you can get information through interpersonal communication by directly making friends with target users or joining corresponding groups in social networks. American cyber security personnel conducted an experiment in 2010. They set up a social media account impersonating a woman who had worked for the Navy's Cyber Warfare Command. Through establishing contacts with intelligence officers from the Marine Corps, officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Agency, and some officers and soldiers stationed in overseas theaters, some sensitive information was obtained.

When using social network platforms to build interpersonal intelligence networks, the functions of different types of social network platforms can be used in combination. For example, LinkedIn is a communication platform for global professionals based on real professional identities. Therefore, LinkedIn can help intelligence staff to accurately screen the appropriate follow-up objects, and then track their information dynamics on Facebook or Twitter, and even obtain intelligence through interaction.

4. Corresponding technical support

Methods 1 to 3 all use information as the object for directional or topic-specific intelligence acquisition. When there are many targets to focus on, or a topic needs to be tracked for a long time, they all face the problem of low efficiency of manual screening. In the era of big data, it is not easy to collect intelligence from the vast social network. The characteristics of information such as dispersion, disorder, diversity, heterogeneity, repetition, and uncertainty have brought great difficulties to intelligence screening. In the face of this problem, we can take advantage of the nature of the open platform of social networks and use third-party systems such as Knowlesys Intelligence System to capture and store information first, and then refine intelligence strategies to improve the efficiency of intelligence work.

Knowlesys Intelligence System is an all-in-one web intelligence monitoring system for law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies. It will help clients mine massive information from social media and turn them into actionable intelligence by automatic analysis and manual processing. It enables users to monitor the entire web in a timely manner.

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