On the 11th of May the JASON Institute Activities Committee organised an event in collaboration with Bellingcat and Leiden University. It consisted of two parts. In the first part, Annique Mossou, a Bellingcat researcher and trainer, provided a one-hour interactive lecture. In the second part, Dr. Ludo Block, professor of Intelligence Studies at Leiden University, provided a 90-minute workshop.
Bellingcat is an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) organisation focusing on research and training. They currently have 30 employees world-wide working on a great variety of topics mainly surrounding the verification of digital – images and video – information. During the lecture, Annique introduced the audience to OSINT and talked about her area of expertise: geolocation. Geolocation is the process of verifying image location through reference material such as small background details through available tools like Google Maps and Yandex Maps. Annique’s lecture allowed the audience to test their knowledge through various short activities, such as identifying an Orthodox Church in Ukraine based off of an image from Twitter to verify whether the information stated in the Tweet was true. Annique also touched upon the importance of mental health – mental hygiene – when doing OSINT by highlighting the effects traumatic images can have on an individual.
Overall, Annique’s lecture provided very educative, instructive, and valuable insights. These were reflected by the great amount of questions asked at the end of the lecture and the positive remarks the audience expressed.
After the lecture, Dr. Ludo Block’s workshop allowed the audience to familiarise themselves further with OSINT by working on a task that focused predominantly on the data collection side. The participants were divided into groups of 4-6 people and were asked to present their findings at the end. From the audience’s presentations it was concluded that jumping to conclusions carries great risk as relevant information is frequently unreliable; open-source data is always second hand. Thus, describing the credibility of the sources and quality of the information is a key aspect when doing OSINT.
Overall, Dr. Ludo Block’s workshop provided the audience with a unique opportunity to get a better glimpse at what OSINT consists of and how it is done. The audience provided very positive feedback.
On behalf of JASON we would like to once again thank Annique Mossou and Ludo Block for sharing their insights on this matter, both sessions were a great success!
Update: The certificates have been sent out, in case you did not receive one yet, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org