Open-source intelligence and the future of national security—5 key takeaways



Open-source intelligence is the backbone of Strider Technologies, and a growing critical asset in today's global economy for economic development and strengthening national security. Greg Levesque, Strider’s CEO and co-founder, talked on the subject in a recent SCSP NatSecTech podcast hosted by Jean Meserve, which you can listen to here. Greg was joined by Varun Vira, COO of C4ADS, a nonprofit utilizing open-source data to target transnational illicit networks. Below we’ll highlight five key takeaways from their conversation. 

We’re in a golden age of open-source data 

Data made publicly available on the internet has been expanding rapidly over the past decade. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated the push of data and information online. Nefarious governments are increasingly using this publicly available information to target private industry and academia. Companies are on the frontlines of this new geopolitical battle. 

Open-source data reliability is found in its scale 

Some have wondered if open-source data is reliable, particularly when it comes to incorporating it into security and critical business processes. But when large amounts of data are integrated, they can reinforce each other boosting confidence in its veracity. This reinforcement of disparate data points validating the same story offers a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the information. But it’s important to validate the data and be careful not to jump to conclusions before investigating biases and data gaps that may be present. 

Governments aren’t efficiently leveraging open-source data—except one 

The U.S. government—and most other governments—is behind the curve in leveraging open-source data. There are efforts to ramp up the use of open-source data and begin to look at it as a key ingredient in various U.S. government mission sets. 

On the other hand, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is doing an exceptional job of utilizing open-source data, particularly when it comes to mapping scientific talent around the world. They create scores for experts in technologies they’re interested in, and in some cases, even include an estimated cost to recruit that person. This type of data collection is not limited to academia but looks at talent in companies as well. This data is then used to fill domestic gaps within their own industries or technology fields. “The shocking thing for me,” Greg notes, “is the scope and scale of the activity. It’s happening in companies. It’s happening in universities. It’s not just a government-to-government issue.” 

The government’s adoption bottlenecks: processing and leveraging data 

The challenge for companies and governments alike is not acquiring data, it’s processing it in a way to derive value. A faster approach is required to increase efficiency, and governments must leverage private sector innovations to rapidly scale their capabilities. And while establishing a dedicated open-source agency is an option for the U.S. government, a cultural shift is also needed to accelerate the adoption and application of open-source data.  

Government and industry should collaborate  

To advance national interests and security, it’s critical for governments and industry to collaborate to maximize the value derived from utilizing open-source data. By joining forces, we can develop new capabilities that enhance government's ability to advance its mission—whether that’s grant making, ensuring compliance with export controls, or supply chain resiliency. There’s a strategic opportunity for government to reposition and synchronize its efforts with the private sector.  

At Strider, we transform open-source data to provide meaningful insights for companies and governments alike to secure their technology and find new ways to compete. Learn more about our products and solutions or book a demo to see our intelligence in action.