9 Items

This image released on Thursday, April 14, 2022 by Ukraine's Defense Ministry reportedly shows Russian military vehicles heading toward Izyum, on a blown up bridge in Kharkiv region, Ukraine. News organizations are using sophisticated new technologies to transform the way they conduct investigations. Much of it is publicly available, or “open-source” material from mobile phones, satellite images and security cameras. 

Ukraine Defense Ministry via AP, File

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Open Source Intelligence for National Security: The Art of the Possible

| Fall 2022

The war in Ukraine was a wake-up call regarding the ability of non-state actors, such as Bellingcat, to glean valuable information from open-source data. On November 1, 2022, the Intelligence Project hosted a highly praised virtual discussion with private sector experts who tackle national security problems using publicly-available data and artificial intelligence.

Report - Intelligence Project

Report: Marking the CIA’s 75th Anniversary: Reflections on the Past, Visions of the Future

Since its creation in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been at the heart of supporting United States foreign policy and national security decision-making. From the early days of the Cold War to Russia’s war against Ukraine, the CIA has been a critical instrument of foreign intelligence collection, analysis, and operations. However, the CIA is often misunderstood, as its own work and history, particularly its successes, are rarely seen by the public. To help unpack this storied history, and in honor of the agency’s 75th anniversary, on September 16, 2022, former directors, officers, scholars, students, and the public gathered to discuss the past, present, and future of the agency. 

Hijacked airliner headed toward World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001

REUTERS/Sean Adair

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Countering Terrorism With "Blue Sky" Thinking

| May 19, 2022

In the past, strategic surprise has often stemmed from a failure of imagination. Most intelligence failures are rooted in a lack of foresight or early warning of impending events. Blue sky thinking seeks to prevent these surprises by devoting more attention not just to known risks and likely scenarios, but also to low probability, high impact events. In an unprecedented step in forging ongoing global collaboration, 129 global experts gathered in Amman, Jordan, in December 2021. The conference was held under the auspices of Jordan’s Aqaba Process and facilitated by representatives from the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project. Attendees included intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers, private sector practitioners, and academics representing 29 countries, 5 continents, and 68 government and private sector organizations. Through presentations and discussion under Chatham House Rules, the conference facilitated an open exchange of ideas on the possible next big threats from terrorism and on strategies for moving forward.

teaser image

Analysis & Opinions

Private Sector Intelligence: On the Long Path of Professionalization

| May 18, 2022

The field of private sector intelligence can often be misinterpreted on the surface level as espionage, guards and gates. Its road to professionalization has been a long one and is still evolving. Maria Robson Morrow spoke with Fred Burton on the Ontic Protective Intelligence podcast on her dissertation research on building a better understanding of private sector intelligence's role in security risk mitigation and business decision-making. The conversation touches on her latest research on pathways to entry, the impact of intelligence cooperation, and camaraderie in mitigating security risks. The author also shares what surprised her most in her research and what she plans on digging into next.

Photo of President Harry Truman meeting with members of the National Security Council and other advisers Jan. 24, 1952 for review of the defense situation.

(AP Photo/Henry Griffin)

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Imagining a New National Security Act

| Spring 2022

If you woke up to news of a massive cyber or Pearl Harbor-type attack on the U.S., you would want to know that a solid national security structure and plan was in place. On May 11, the Intelligence Project and Applied History Project hosted a conference to imagine a new National Security Act to replace the current act of 1947.

teaser image

Analysis & Opinions

Intel community weighs role of open source intelligence amid Ukraine conflict

| Apr. 21, 2022

Intelligence agencies have struggled to define how open source intelligence fits into its broader work, but the wide breadth of publicly available information about the Ukraine conflict, combined with proactive disclosures of classified information, are providing some clarity about OSINT’s role. Lauren Zabierek and Maria Robson Morrow spoke with the Federal News Network on how the public and private sectors are leveraging open source intelligence, including challenges and opportunities.

Private sector professionals

Charles Forerunner (Unsplash)

Journal Article - Intelligence and National Security

Private sector intelligence: on the long path of professionalization

| Mar. 20, 2022

Private sector intelligence is on its way to professionalization, but the road is a long one and the destination is uncertain. Studies of intelligence professionalization have not yet systematically analyzed private sector intelligence, a field that focuses on mitigating geopolitical and security risk and supporting decision-making. In this article, Maria Robson Morrow draws on years of empirical research of private sector intelligence with reference to five key pillars of professionalization: a shared identity, knowledge advancement, training and education, a code of ethics, and certification. She concludes with implications for professionalizing private sector intelligence and proposes further research on this understudied field.

3D rendering of cyber security and system crash

Adobe Stock

Analysis & Opinions - Harvard Business Review

The Cybersecurity Risks of an Escalating Russia-Ukraine Conflict

With the looming threat of increased conflict in Ukraine, businesses around the world should be preparing now, write Paul R. Kolbe, Maria Robson Morrow, and Lauren Zabierek. Corporate security and intelligence teams have said they’re seeing an increase in cyber probes, and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the European Central Bank have both issued warnings about potential Russian cyberattacks. At this point, companies should be taking the following steps: 1) Review business continuity plans; 2) Closely examine supply chains; 3) Actively engage peer networks, vendors, and law enforcement around cyber intrusions; 4) Instill a security mindset in employees; and 5) Make sure corporate intelligence and IT teams are working closely together on solutions.

Business meeting backlit

Adobe Stock

Analysis & Opinions - Harvard Business Review

How Corporate Intelligence Teams Help Businesses Manage Risk

| January 4, 2022

The word “intelligence” is loaded: While some confuse it with corporate espionage, today nearly every major company has an intelligence function or is building one. Prior to Covid-19, many corporate intelligence teams largely focused on security, but the pandemic has demonstrated the broader value of intelligence. In a world of contradictory and misleading information, smart business leaders use intelligence to see around corners, mitigate risk, provide insight, and shape their decision-making. Paul Kolbe and Maria Robson Morrow offer an overview of corporate intelligence functions and provide advice on how to structure these internal teams.