Before the internet age, intelligence agencies analyzed countries by tapping into radio and TV broadcasts, and buy reading physical newspapers and magazines and public reports.
Web 1.0 inaugurated the blog age, adding an important vertical to the traditional OSINT – the World Wide Web. Mountains of information could be published, searched, consumed and archived in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Consumption was still largely passive, however, and the traditional OSINT model of operations was plausibly expanded to cover the internet alongside traditional media.
However, with Web 2.0 and the mushrooming of user-controlled social media, the internet grew by an order of magnitude, compounded yet again by the Smartphone revolution, eclipsing traditional media almost entirely. This is where we are today.
The most important aspect of this change is that users have access to simple user-permission APIs and can now take full control of their online activity, making some of it public for the entire web to see, while keeping some of it exclusive to friends, invitees and vetted contacts only.
Terrogence refers to this exclusive social-media driven content by the term Deep Web. On the one hand, it is Open Source since it is published online. And yet it is not accessible except if the publisher allows the reader into his or her inner circle.
And it is precisely here where the most interesting information is being created every day, and the most interesting intelligence comes from. It is clear that the traditional methods of OSINT must give way a little bit to a more robust OSINT/HUMINT methodology. The intelligence professional must gain trusted access into an inner circle of targets. And all this must happen virtually.
Terrogence refers to collecting intelligence from online regions that include both public-access online media and hybrid permissions-based public-private-access, as WEBINT.
Of course there remains the possibility of forced access of fully private information, i.e. hacking. Terrogence stops short of such methods for two reasons.
The obvious reason is that it is illegal and we are a private corporation in good legal standing, conducting legitimate business in over a dozen countries.
The second reason is operational. It is more valuable in both the medium and the long term to be inside the trusted inner circle of information, than to make a quick short term gain by hacking.
There is a place for hacking in the world of cyber-security, but not at the expense of Deep Web exploitation by Virtual HUMINT™.