The limitations of automating OSINT: understanding the question, not the answer

George R.S. Weir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


Answering key questions on matters of fact, such as whether a particular individual was employed by a named organization at a specific point in time, is easy if one has access to relevant data, for example, company financial records, income tax returns, or details of bank account transactions. For good reasons, such data are not widely accessible without authorization. In contrast, open source information may be unrestricted and free to access by interested parties. Whether such readily accessible data will prove helpful in determining an answer to such questions of fact as our aforementioned employment query is far from certain. The availability of relevant data is not assured. The desired information may simply be unavailable. If it is available, there is no assurance that the enquirer can successfully negotiate the required technology, adequately specify the desired information, and retrieve the data. In this chapter, the limitations of open source intelligence (OSINT) are described and outlined with reference to the risks around interpreting results from automated algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAutomating Open Source Intelligence
Subtitle of host publicationAlgorithms for OSINT
EditorsRobert Layton, Paul A. Watters
Place of PublicationWaltham, MA.
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2015


  • corroboration
  • credibility
  • provenance


Dive into the research topics of 'The limitations of automating OSINT: understanding the question, not the answer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this