Paladin Security Group's Director of Investigation Services, Mike Lantz, dissects Open Source Intelligence Techniques which benefit subject investigation strategies and equals to huge savings for the insurance industry.
Firstly, let's explore Open Source Intelligence Techniques: OSINT is best described as data gathered from publicly available sources which can then be utilized for intelligence purposes.
The term 'open' refers to overt sources which are publicly available, as opposed to covert or clandestine sources. The term itself is rather new, however the purpose it serves has been around for many years and was applied by using a different framework. OSINT can be divided into several categories such as Internet, Media, Public Government Data, Academic Publications, and Research Materials.
The use of OSINT in insurance investigations has been widespread for well over 10 years. However, it seems that the usable information contained in the gathered intelligence seems to be increasing every year. The likely cause of this is the constant release of new information that becomes publicly available and societies increased reliance on information at our fingertips. Historically, our OSINT teams have relied on the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to review information posted by claimants which may depict their daily activities and even limitations. While we still utilize social media to a large extent to create profiles of claimants, we find that other open sources of information provide a wider insight into claimant's lives.
More and more government resources in Canada are becoming public, such as criminal convictions, which are generally accessible through the court system and are now found online. In British Columbia, this information is found in Court Services Online, an online database of all criminal and civil court actions. Previously, our investigators would have to attend court in person in order to review this information. This database has cut down on investigation time and the same can be said for other online sources. Having easy access to this type of database has resulted in an evolution of our investigative reach.
Other great online sources which allow us to confirm important information include, Personal Property Searches, and Land Titles. In early days, the only way to obtain Land Title information was to attend the Land Title office, or if you're lucky, by phone. All these various searches become part of an overall OSINT check, which is invaluable to an investigation firm and the insurer.
OSINT is really the first step to any investigative process. Intelligence gathering is so important, in fact, that our firm does not charge for initial OSINT checks. Our team has found that proactive OSINT checks provide for better overall results within other investigative techniques such as collateral investigations and especially surveillance. A well-planned OSINT check will actually drive the surveillance by locating and confirming subject activity. Once this baseline of information can be established, a proper surveillance plan can be created. A surveillance plan must be intelligence driven.
Once a surveillance plan is deployed, it still does not end the need for OSINT. A well-balanced investigative team will continue to monitor for new intelligence and provide the surveillance team with ongoing information which may change the surveillance plan. We have found that providing clients with value-add Open Source Intelligence Information only increased surveillance results which pays for itself three-fold.
With the increase of information at our fingertips also comes the balance of privacy. As our investigative reach continues to expand, it's extremely important for investigators to balance that knowledge and stay within privacy guidelines.
Over the next five years, we'll continue to see enormous advances in OSINT tools and techniques and as such, we'll again see a great cost savings to the insurance industry as more information is easily accessible.