Analysing intelligence

Once intelligence has been collected, it is analysed to help us identify the serious and often hidden threats that MI5 investigates. These threats are complex, and the intelligence gathered often does not show the full picture, but understanding the information we do have is vital to the success of our operations. 

Intelligence comes in all shapes and sizes which is why there are a range of different career paths for our staff working in analysis: analysts who rapidly respond to new intelligence in whatever format it comes, analysts who specialise in other languages and data scientists who use cutting edge techniques to understand very large and complex datasets. We offer recruitment pathways for those starting their career and routes for experienced joiners. 

Like most of our capabilities, we don’t make public specific information about how we work. Doing so could help our adversaries evade detection. What we can say is that all of our analysis is undertaken in accordance with the law and governed by the same principles of necessity and proportionality as our intelligence gathering: 

  • analysis needs to be necessary for the protection of national security, or for the purpose of safeguarding the economic wellbeing of the UK against threats from overseas, or in order to prevent or detect serious crime 
  • analysis also needs to be proportionate to what it seeks to achieve, meaning the intelligence gain will be sufficiently great to justify the activity 

In addition, all of the analytical techniques we use are subject to robust oversight. 

The methods we use to conduct high-quality analysis evolve over time and cutting-edge technology is needed to combat the changing nature of threats the UK faces. For example, we are increasingly making use of artificial intelligence to support our analysis. 

Use of artificial intelligence 

The use of artificial intelligence, or AI, is commonplace across much of the work of governments, industry and civil society around the world. To seize opportunities to protect national security more effectively and respond to the security threats which are being shaped by an ever-changing technology landscape, we want to use the best available tools for the job. 

We work hard to ensure our use of technology is responsible, including considering the limitations of our training data. This isn’t just a requirement of our technical experts but applies to everyone working in the organisation. We working with a range of partners internally and externally to ensure ethics are considered by all involved in the creation and use of AI. 

For example, in 2022, we announced our partnership with The Alan Turing Institute, which specialises in the development of high-performing, ethical AI. This partnership is one of several that help us to keep abreast of state-of-the-art approaches in the principled use of AI and to contribute more openly to the development of AI for wider public benefit.