Filling the OSINT Void After the World News Connection Feed Shuts Down

Posted: 13th November 2013

The Federation of American Scientist’s blog Secrecy News highlighted several weeks ago the impending loss of the National Technical Information Service’s World News Connection (WNC) newsfeed. The resource, in short, aggregated and translated into English information from “thousands of non-US media sources” and delivered this information within 48-72 hours after initial broadcast.

Let’s look at how Recorded Future’s web intelligence software, which analyzes text in real-time from over 300,000 open web sources in seven different languages, can offer support for some of the open-source intelligence tasks analysts once leaned on the WNC for.

Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News highlighted the value of WNC by describing his tracking of Russia media on a controversy over a US-run laboratory near Tbilisi, Georgia. Without WNC, the absence of local resources or language coverage on staff, the task of monitoring events outside of the US media’s scope becomes quite difficult.

The flare up in a few sentences:

The US facility opened in Georgia during March 2011 as the Central Public Health Research Laboratory. However, tension arose in October 2013 when Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Russian Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection, claimed, “According to our estimates, the laboratory is an important element of the offensive part of the US military-biological potential… the fact the lab is operational in Georgia proves that the United States is violating its international pledges, specifically the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.”

Beyond Feeds to Web Intelligence

Now, we’ll get back to how Recorded Future can fill the gap for news monitoring tasks such as the one described by Aftergood at Secrecy News. Recorded Future analyzes text from a global source set and handles several foreign languages including Russian by extracting information in the natural language and providing analysts a built-in hook to Google Translate for transforming the text into including on the fly.

Comparative coverage of the biological weapons allegations made against the US is shown below in Recorded Future’s source map visualization; non-US sources are described in the first image while US sources are shown in the second.

With a quick scan of the sources covering this US lab in Georgia controversy, the dearth of mainstream reporting from the US is obvious. Coverage by alternative outlets and security streams in the US is, outside of a single United Press International, driven almost entirely by non-US media.

Once existing coverage is well understood, analysts can set up e-mail alerts to monitor for new information on the subject or track a feed in real-time for situational awareness of fluid events. You can check out a real-time feed example displaying event information from sources in Russia and across Asia on geopolitical and business relations with Tbilisi.

Whether you’re in academia, government, or corporate security role, reach out to Recorded Future if losing WNC leaves a gap in your intelligence gathering or news analysis operations.