“Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.”
Carl von Clausewitz
Intelligence analysis is one of the oldest and most consistent concepts in human history. Every morning people turn on the news or scroll through feeds on their phones, looking for information that will help them plan their day. What is the weather report? What implications does that have for their activities for that day? How is the traffic? Do they need to plan for extra time to get to where they need to go? External information is compared to an internal set of experiences and priorities, and an assessment is made of the impact on the target subject—the individual in question.
This is the basic premise of intelligence: taking in external information from a variety of sources and analyzing it against existing requirements in order to provide an assessment that will affect decision making. This occurs at the individual level as well as at higher levels; this same process is implemented at the group, organization, and government level every single day.
Most individuals conduct some form of intelligence analysis on their own without formal training, and many security teams work through similar processes as they conduct investigations without realizing that they are, in fact, engaged in intelligence analysis. When businesses and governments conduct intelligence operations, it is based on a formalized process and doctrine that ...