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Intelligence

Information Sharing Takes on New Shape

October 1, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

U.S. intelligence agencies soon will be able to share information with each other in a single common computing environment. This effort will increase intra-agency cooperation and efficiency while cutting information technology operating costs through the use of shared services.

The Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) is part of a broad strategy led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and supported by the chief information officers (CIOs) of the five major intelligence agencies. ICITE replaces the old agency-based information technology model with one using a common architecture operating as a single enterprise across the intelligence community.

Launched in 2012, ICITE is not a formal program of record but a development effort directed by the ODNI and agency CIOs. ICITE has five major goals: create a single, standards-based interoperable enterprise architecture for the intelligence community; provide seamless and secure collaboration tools for person-to-person and data-to-data information sharing; establish a standardized, consolidated business process to support agency missions; set up a governance and oversight process; and create partnerships in the intelligence community, across the U.S. government, international partners and industry.

Committed to Cloud Computing

October 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Recent insider security breaches have put increased scrutiny on the U.S. intelligence community’s cloud computing plans. But cloud computing initiatives remain unchanged as the technology is expected to enhance cybersecurity and provide analysts with easier ways to do their jobs in less time.

With cloud computing, reams of data reside in one location rather than in a variety of repositories. Combining data leads to greater efficiencies for intelligence analysts, but in the view of some, it also means greater vulnerabilities. “There’s a school of thought that says if you co-locate data, you actually expose more of it in case of an insider threat than if you keep it all in separate repositories by data type,” explains Lonny Anderson, National Security Agency (NSA) chief information officer. “The onus is on us to convince the rest of the community, the rest of the Defense Department, that we can secure their information in the cloud in a way that they simply can’t secure it today.”

Anderson acknowledges that the recent insider leaks have increased doubts within the intelligence community about cloud computing, but he expresses confidence that the agency and the intelligence community are on the right path. “I think everybody is a little more nervous and a little more security conscious.

“Everything we’ve learned so far of [NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s] activities has reinforced for us that the path we’re already on is the right path. The lesson we’ve learned is the need to share information but to share selectively, only with those with a need to know,” Anderson says. “The leaks actually reinforced the need to move to the cloud and move there more quickly.”

A New -INT Looms for Social Media

October 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Arab Spring, which rose from street-level dissent to form a mass movement, might not have come as a surprise to intelligence agencies if only they had been able to read the tea leaves of social media. The characteristics of social media that differentiate it from other messaging media are compelling intelligence officials to change the way they derive valuable information from it. As a result, experts are calling for the creation of a new discipline that represents a separate branch of intelligence activity.

The type of information found on social media is far different from that intercepted via any other type of messaging media. It is pushed by its sender out to large numbers of people. It often consists of information about individuals that is not readily available elsewhere. And, it can represent an indication of groupthink that is not discernible from traditional intercepts.

Sir David Omand is a visiting professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London. He is a former U.K. intelligence and security coordinator and the former director of the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which provides both signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance as one of the United Kingdom’s three intelligence agencies.

“This is more than a shift from one kind of communications medium to another,” Omand declares. He points out that SIGINT experts have accommodated the shift from copper wires to fiber because the same messages were being carried by the different media. The only change was the transport mode.

ICITE Builds From the Desktop Up

September 9, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

As the intelligence community moves into the cloud, it launches the first step at the desktop level.

Learning Real-World Intelligence Analysis

September 6, 2013
George I. Seffers

Officials at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, are developing a program that allows students from any academic discipline to work closely with the U.S. intelligence community in a variety of actual national security-related problems. The university is on track to begin offering a minor in intelligence analysis in the relatively near future and a major in the next five years.

Implemented about a year ago, the program is described as a work in progress. In fact, it has not yet been officially named, but will likely be called the Intelligence Analysis Program. “The goal of the program is to train the future analysts for the intelligence community, the military and business. "What we are trying to do is to provide a learning environment in which students have to deal with real analytical problems,” reports Robert Norton, professor and director of the Open Source Intelligence Laboratory, Auburn University. “We’re not just using things like case studies. We’re actually working current problems. And we do so in an environment where they’re working under an operational tempo similar to what is experienced in the intelligence community.”

Future intelligence analysts learn how analytical products are put together, how data is validated and how to communicate findings in a timely manner. “What we say is that our students work on real problems with real customers. We are working with the intelligence community, we’re working with various combatant commands, and we’re working with various businesses,” Norton says.

Have We Gone Down the Rabbit Hole?

September 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Do you ever find yourself trying to reconcile with your environment? That is where I am now with regard to national security and reaction to leaks and programs designed to protect against terrorist threats.

In 2010, Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization got themselves on the world stage by publishing large volumes of classified documents, many provided by Pfc. Bradley Manning, USA, an intelligence analyst. At that time, and since, both Assange and Manning have been held up as villains by some and as heroes and whistle-blowers by others.

In May of this year, Edward Snowden, a computer analyst hired by Booz Allen Hamilton to work on U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) programs, leaked massive classified data to the British newspaper The Guardian concerning NSA intelligence-gathering programs. Again, Snowden is a traitor or a hero, depending on whom you talk to. A recent USA Today poll found 55 percent of Americans felt Snowden was a whistle-blower and hero.

The government continues to address these massive leaks, their implications to national security and the changes to law that may be needed. In the Manning case, the administration consistently has been determined to prosecute him for treason and aiding the enemy. On July 30, USA Today reported on its online front page with the headline, “Manning verdict redefines meaning of traitor.” While the military court ruled that Manning was guilty of a number of the charges, including parts of the Espionage Act, he was found not guilty of “giving aid to the enemy,” the most serious of the charges, because the prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had “a specific intent to aid or assist the enemy.” Legal analysts now are saying that Congress should review the Espionage Act in light of the pervasiveness of technology and its new role in warfighting and terrorism.

Defining 
Spatial 
Privacy

September 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

The exponential expansion of geolocation technology throughout all levels of society is presenting a range of challenges for policy makers eager to take advantage of the benefits while protecting personal privacy. Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the challenges is fragmented or lacking in authority.

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy aims to change all that by representing legal considerations within the geospatial community. Kevin Pomfret, executive director of the center, served as a satellite imagery analyst for the government for six years before attending law school. During his studies, he remained interested in remote sensing and representing clients in that area. The field is fraught with potential because of the many issues surrounding geolocation especially. People increasingly are using the technology for a variety of applications, meaning legal and policy concerns will grow in number over concerns such as privacy, data ownership, data quality and national security. “I started to attend trade shows and saw there weren’t any lawyers there, which was unusual,” Pomfret explains.

When he realized the community was underserved from a legal standpoint, he set out to educate its members on concerns that do and will impact them legally. The center he established also aims to give stakeholders a seat at the table as laws and policies are developed as well as to educate policy makers.

Policy making often involves weighing risk against benefit. Unfortunately, many of the people in a position to make decisions lack the background to fully understand the value of spatial data. By connecting them to the experts in related industries, awareness of the important facets grow.

NSA and University to Create Big Data Laboratory

August 16, 2013

 

North Carolina (NC) State University has announced a new partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) to create the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences (LAS) on the university’s Centennial Campus. The lab will bring together personnel from government, academia and industry to address the most challenging big data problems and will be a cornerstone of the emerging advanced data innovation hub at NC State.

NC State researchers will assist NSA scientists in establishing priorities and conducting research for the LAS. A key goal of the LAS is to promote new advances in the science of analysis through innovative collaborations between industry, academia and government.

The NSA grant funding of the LAS is the largest sponsored research contract in the university’s history.

Intelligence Experts Meet in Brussels

August 15, 2013

The AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum takes place at the Le Plaza Hotel, Brussels, Belgium, December 10-11. This unclassified conference features keynote speakers Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and chairman, Kaspersky Lab; Maciej Popowski, deputy secretary general, European External Action Service, European Union; and Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, deputy secretary general and smart defense envoy, U.S. mission to NATO.

Cyber Threats Abound, but Their Effects Are Not Certain

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Protecting the nation from cyber attack entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.
 

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