Track down a terrorist. Locate a weapons depot. Finding a person missing for months or years. And if it were enough to start from a Google search to do all this
Intelligence at the time of mass digitization is also and above all made from open sources. For this reason, Osint, Open Source intelligence, has grown in the last ten years, from research to investigative journalism to the work of the national 007s.
Italy is no exception. This is demonstrated by the birth of OsintItalia, the first Italian association that applies Open Source Intelligence methodologies to the web for social and solidarity issues, including the search for missing persons. Open Source: no hacker intrusions, no crimes, all legal.
A community of professionals that has various types of experiences, journalists, lawyers, intelligence analysts, with a single purpose: to use the Osint for social and solidarity purposes. It is no coincidence that Italy is leading the way. Here Osint is not the “future”, but “the present”, Mirko Lapi , president and co-founder of Osint Italia, explains to, a career as a professional in the world of Security and Defense.
The numbers are mind-boggling. In 2020 alone, the year of the pandemic (and therefore of the restrictions), 13,527 people have disappeared in Italy. But the phenomenon dates back over time, so much so that in 2007 the then Prodi government set up an extraordinary Commissioner for missing persons. “We are submerged by a significant information overload – notes Lapi, founder of the association together with a team of professionals including Alessia Gianaroli , Antonio Rossi , Valentina Lavore , Andrea Caldarini and Valerio Lilli – the estimates indicate the importance of OSINT if it is true that over 80% of the information used also by institutional intelligence comes from open sources “.
The history of Osint Italia stems from an episode. “An international competition, ‘Capture the flag’, in which 290 teams had to track down information and clues about missing persons in the United States, we finished third”. Hence the idea of ​​importing the Osint model into Italy. Outside, not only in the US, there are already many school cases. Not just in the world of intelligence or activism.
Just think of the story of Bellingcat, the famous team of freelance investigative journalists who every month, thanks to investigations with open sources, bring out investigations into international scandals, piloted disinformation, corruption. It was they, for one thing, who nailed the Iranian government when, in January 2020, it shot down a civilian plane with a missile causing carnage. Or to denounce the Russian spies of the GRU who poisoned Alexei Navalny .
“Bellingcat is an example for us, of course. Even if we are aware that the Osint is not a panacea, classified sources remain essential and outside our perimeter “. Those who deal with Osint remain in another perimeter, that of publicly available information, explains Lapi. “Ours is not hacktivism but an investigative research of social and solidarity information. In the digital age everyone leaves some traces ”, says Lapi. “We are not hackers, but professionals and enthusiasts of Open Source Intelligence who carry out this activity in full compliance with current regulations”.
There are many areas in which the Osint can make a difference, “from cyber-bullying to revenge porn up to the fight against digital disinformation”. In addition to action, however, training is needed in a country where the Osint culture, especially in the business world, is not yet fully known. Osint Italia will be based in Rome and will immediately get to work, on April 30th, with an “Osint Day”, a day dedicated to the presentation of Osint techniques with lessons and presentations in live streaming on the Youtube channel.

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