Chapter 2: Technology, Intelligence and Security Assessments

Intelligence refers to discrete or secret information with currency and relevance, and the abstraction, evaluation, and understanding of such information for its accuracy and value. Sometimes called "active data" or "active intelligence", intelligence typically regards the current plans, decisions, and actions of people, as these may have urgency or may otherwise be considered "valuable" from the point of view of the intelligence-gathering entity. Active intelligence is treated as a constantly mutable component, or variable, within a larger equation of understanding the secret, covert, or otherwise private "intelligence" of an opponent, or competitor, to answer questions or obtain advance warning of events and movements deemed to be important or otherwise relevant.

"Intel" is in contrast with "data", which typically refers to precise or particular information, and "fact", which typically refers to verified information.

As used by intelligence agencies and related services, "intelligence" refers integrally to both active data as well as the process and the result of gathering and analysing such information, as these together form a cohesive network. In a sense, this usage of "intelligence" at the national level may be somewhat associated with the concept of social intelligence, albeit one, which is tied to, localised or nationalist tradition, politics, law, and the enforcement thereof.

2.1 Types of Intelligence

The types of intelligence listed below are principally based on the various modes used in the collection of intelligence. These reference the various means through which data collection is made. Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is the collection of information from people. Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is the collection of electronic communications information such as phone conversations or communications data. Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) is information collected by sensors developed to record different characteristics of a target. Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) is information collected from photographs and imagery. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is information that is collected through channels and avenues that are available in the public domain. These go beyond that of the cyber and social media domain and include that of any and all means of open and available data. Surveillance is the activity of watching and following a target. Cyber Intelligence refers to the collection of information derived through ‘cyber’ intrusions, (i.e. computer hacking).

The following are 10 different types of Intelligence that can be gathered.

Table 2.1 Types Of Intelligence

(Human Intelligence)

Gathered from a person on the ground. Through the means of:
  1. Espionage
  2. Friendly accredited diplomats
  3. Military attaches
  4. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  5. Patrolling (Military police, patrols, etc.)
  6. Prisoners of war (POWs) or detainees
  7. Refugees
  8. Strategic reconnaissance, as by Special Forces
  9. Traveller debriefing (e.g. CIA Domestic Contact Service)

(Geospatial Intelligence)

Gathered from satellite, aerial photography, mapping/terrain data. Most often using the method of IMINT (Imagery Intelligence).

(Measurement and Signature Intelligence)

Gathered from a host of alternative platforms:
  1. Electro-optical MASINT
    1. Airborne Electro-Optical Missile Tracking MASINT
    2. Tactical Countermortar Sensors
  2. Infrared MASINT
    1. Optical Measurement of Nuclear Explosions
    1. Spectroscopic MASINT
    2. Hyperspectral Imagery MASINT
    3. Space-based Staring Infrared Sensors
  4. Nuclear MASINT
    1. Radiation survey and dosimetry
    2. Space-based Nuclear Energy Detection
    3. Effects of Ionising Radiation on materials
  5. Geophysical MASINT
    1. Weather and Sea Intelligence MASINT
    2. Acoustic MASINT (also known as ACOUSTINT or ACINT - Acoustic phenomena)
    3. Seismic MASINT
    4. Magnetic MASINT
    5. Gravitimetric MASINT
  6. Radar MASINT
    1. Line-of-Sight Radar MASINT
    2. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)
    3. Non-Cooperative Target Recognition
    4. Multistatic Radar MASINT
    5. Passive Covert Radar
  7. Materials MASINT
  8. Chemical Materials MASINT
  9. Biological Materials MASINT
  1. Nuclear test analysis
  2. Radiofrequency MASINT
  3. Frequency Domain MASINT
  4. Electromagnetic Pulse MASINT
  5. Unintentional Radiation MASINT

(Open Source Intelligence)

Gathered from open sources. Can be further segmented by source type; Internet/General, Scientific/Technical and various HUMINT specialties (e.g. trade shows, association meetings, interviews, etc.).

(Signals Intelligence)

Gathered from interception of signals.

(Communications Intelligence)

Gathered from the communications of individuals. These include communication across a variety of platforms including but not limited to telephone conversations, text messages and various types of online interactions.

(Electronic Intelligence)

Gathered from non-communications electronic emission. These often include that of FISINT—Foreign Instrumentation Signals Intelligence and TELINT—Telemetry Intelligence: the collection and analysis of telemetry data from the target's missile or sometimes from aircraft tests.

(Technical Intelligence)

Gathered from analysis of weapons and equipment used by the armed forces of foreign nations, or environmental conditions.

(Medical Intelligence)

Gathered from analysis of medical records and/or actual physiological examinations to determine health and/or particular ailments/allergenic conditions for exploitation.

(Financial Intelligence)

Gathered from analysis of monetary transactions.

2.2 Intelligence Cycle and Security Assessment

Intelligence as used here, when done properly, serves a function for organisations similar to that which intelligence (trait) serves for individual humans and animals. Intelligence collection is often controversial and seen as a threat to privacy. It additionally highlights the dominant challenge between the ideas of safety and security.

Intelligence is essential for government policy formation and operations and while usually associated with warfare, intelligence can also be used to preserve peace. The wrongful and inappropriate collection and use of intelligence sparks fears and discussions of impact on existing privacy laws of the state.

Figure 2.3 Intelligence Cycle

The intelligence cycle above is a means through which methods of collective dovetail within. At its crux, threat assessments are an in-depth, analytical analysis of existing or future threats. Threat Assessments are centred on the threat, risk and vulnerability assessment that are undertaken. Effective threat assessments help provide a level of protective intelligence to both strategic level where policy decision decisions are made and to the front line where active work is done to protect frontlines of defence of a state.

Do the objectives of the Intelligence Cycle change with businesses or the private sector?

When conducted by the private sector, it is important to consider the difference in the goals of security and safety. “Whereas government institutions are committed to the safety and security of citizens at virtually any cost, the core objectives of businesses revolve around profit. Security for personnel, assets, or the enterprise must be balanced against costs and revenue goals.” (Davydoff, 2017)

Activity 2.2


Technology used in intelligence work can also and often does backfire. This is because criminals and terrorists often gain access to the same technology used by the intelligence community.

Why is this the case?