Showing posts with label Intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intelligence. Show all posts

17 November 2017

Wrapping Intelligence Around the Open Source Whirlwind


In the internet age, the digital breadcrumbs humans leave in their wake can be harnessed – the geotag on a tweeted photo, or the time stamps on a YouTube video upload. This open source, publicly available material, once scorned by the secret-stealers of the intelligence community, is rising in value as it is in volume. Open source intelligence (OSINT) is increasingly leveraged by intelligence agencies around the world to quantify, contextualize and even predict international events. 

15 November 2017

Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the NSA to Its Core

by Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger 

Jake Williams awoke last April in an Orlando, Fla., hotel where he was leading a training session. Checking Twitter, the cybersecurity expert was dismayed to discover that he had been thrust into the middle of one of the worst security debacles ever to befall American intelligence. Mr. Williams had written on his company blog about the Shadow Brokers, a mysterious group that had somehow obtained many of the hacking tools the United States used to spy on other countries. Now the group had replied in an angry screed on Twitter. It identified him — correctly — as a former member of the National Security Agency’s hacking group, Tailored Access Operations, or T.A.O., a job he had not publicly disclosed. Then the Shadow Brokers astonished him by dropping technical details that made clear they knew about highly classified hacking operations that he had conducted.

7 November 2017

Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Can Achieve the Impossible

By Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern

This is an adapted excerpt from The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible Copyright © 2017. It is available from PublicAffairs, an imprint of Perseus Books LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group Inc.

Imagine flying over a major city at night — say, Chicago or Paris or Beijing — and it is completely dark below. It is just a void of light akin to nighttime in the middle of the ocean.

Then imagine someone flips on the power grid, and you see today’s web of human activity light up. Imagine further that someone flips the switch again, and you glimpse a future image of the city. Where you once thought there was nothing, there is a universe of action — both present and future. Enormous detail radiates from the darkness, and you perceive and envision features you never knew existed.

This ability to “flip the switch” to see formerly hidden details and vital insights about the future expresses the potential of the mathematical corporation. Thanks to leaps in technology, we can get a new fine-grained, high-resolution picture of aspects we could never distinguish before. With machine intelligence, built on the bundle of technologies known as data science, we can see patterns, anomalies and associations that were previously cloaked in obscurity.

3 November 2017

Former intelligence chief James Clapper says President Trump is dead wrong about Russian interference in America’s elections. And they’re going to get away with it again, he warns.

Susan B. Glasser

America’s former top spymaster has a few things he’d like to clear up about the Russia investigation. James Clapper, a crusty ex-cargo pilot who rose through the Air Force ranks and retired as director of national intelligence in January, only to emerge publicly as one of President Donald Trump’s foremost critics, wants you to know that no matter how much Trump rants about the “Russia hoax,” the 2016 hacking was not only real and aimed at electing Trump but constituted a major victory for a dangerous foreign adversary. “The Russians,” he said, have “succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.”uld be a good thing.”

26 October 2017


Nicholas Krohley

Today’s American military is, arguably, the most tactically adept fighting force in the world—perhaps of all time. It is, without question, the best-resourced military in human history. Our technological advantage is unprecedented, as cutting edge hardware and software platforms deliver extraordinary capabilities in areas ranging from SIGINT to targeting to command and control. Taken together, the United States wields a tactically, financially, and technologically superior warfighting machine.

18 October 2017

Enigma: The anatomy of Israel’s intelligence failure almost 45 years ago

Bruce Riedel

The guesthouse of the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Projects, or Mossad, sits on a small hill top overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just north of Tel Aviv. It is a modest structure with a carport, a living room, a bedroom, and several small conference rooms. It also has a kitchen and large dining area. Forty years ago, in 1973, the guesthouse was virtually the only building in the area. Just below it, near the water, is the coastal highway linking Tel Aviv to the Galilee and Haifa. Today, the headquarters of the Mossad is also just below and adjacent to the guesthouse. Armies have marched past this spot since the dawn of history, including Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Crusaders, and the British in 1918. In the early 1970s it was a very lovely place for a meeting, isolated locally but located close enough to Tel Aviv to make it an easy place for senior officials to gather. A top-secret facility, the guesthouse guaranteed its visitors quiet and secrecy. The food was also quite good, especially some of the fish and schnitzel recipes.

13 October 2017

British spy boss says cyber security as important as fighting terrorism

Protecting Britain from cyber crime is as important as defending it against terrorism, the head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency said on Monday.

Britain has suffered a number of high-profile cyber attacks this year, including one in May on the state-run National Health Service which crippled some computer systems and caused huge disruption, and another on parliament in June.

12 October 2017

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits foreign scientists and academics

Daniel Golden

The CIA agent tapped softly on the hotel room door. After the keynote speeches, panel discussions and dinner, the conference attendees had retired for the night. Audio and visual surveillance of the room showed that the nuclear scientist’s minders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were sleeping, but he was still awake. Sure enough, he opened the door, alone.

2 October 2017

Open Source Intelligence for the Modern Intelligence Agency

by Gina Cerami

For government agencies, open source intelligence (OSINT) fuel the never-ending charge to make informed decisions. The mainstay of OSINT to government agencies are the social and local news posts found on the web – with 90%-95% of these being non-english text and sources.

With so much data being created every day, how can agencies focused on National Security like the NSA, DHS, CIA and others gain a higher level of confidence identifying and acting on the posts? Combine Connotate’s market leading web data extraction platform with Basis Technology’s Rosette text analytics platform, ensuring a continuous flow of contextually accurate, disambiguated data about people, places, organizations and things into analytical and intelligence systems.

18 September 2017

The future of intelligence analysis: computers versus the human brain?

Last month in The Strategist, Mark Gilchrist put down a wager that computers will ‘be unable to provide any greater certainty than a team of well-trained and experienced analysts who understand the true difficulty of creating order from chaos’. While I commend Mark’s bravery in predicting the future with such certainty, I suspect that, in time, he’ll lose his money. I’d also argue that his zero-sum perspective sets an impossible standard for human analysts and algorithms—whether basic or self-learning. Reducing the intelligence problem down to ‘making sense of war’s inherent unpredictability’ doesn’t do this field of endeavour any justice.

Discussing ‘intelligence’ theory and practice is made all the more difficult by the absence of any universally accepted definition. Nevertheless, talking about intelligence processes and outputs without referring to any intelligence theory leads to inherently inaccurate assumptions—a point Rod Lyon and I made last year in separate Strategist posts.

I’m firmly in Mark’s camp when it comes to the importance of qualitative analysis and the analytical ability of intelligence professionals to make assessments with incomplete datasets. But to do that work, intelligence analysts must have a clear understanding of the epistemological construction for their analysis: they must know what it means to know. Good intelligence tradecraft involves employing a range of analytical techniques to ensure that the validity and reliability of different assessments and explanations are tested.

15 September 2017

U.S. Intelligence Agencies in a Race for Skilled Workers

By Sandra Erwin

A massive change happened in the U.S. intelligence community after the 9/11 attacks. Agencies were realigned and bureaucracies expanded. Congress created the Director of National Intelligence position and the National Counterterrorism Center amid growing fears that the nation was unprepared for the jihadist threat.

There is now a brewing debate on whether the intelligence community — a collection of 17 agencies with an annual budget of about $54 billion — may have become too narrowly focused and slow to respond to a changing world. Analysts and foreign policy experts have sounded alarms in recent years as U.S. intelligence largely failed to predict the Arab Spring, the emergence of Russia and China as military competitors to the United States, North Korea’s advances in nuclear weapons, Iran’s rise as a regional power and the surge of the Islamic State.

Intelligence officials insist they recognize the problem and believe it will persist until agencies can fix their talent issues: namely that the government workforce needs more technically skilled workers, and agencies have to change how they work with the private sector.

“These are critical decisions for us: What skills do we invest in for the next five to 10 years?” said National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers, who also heads U.S. Cyber Command.

13 September 2017

A Botched Black Bag Job Reveals the Long Arm of Chinese Intelligence

By Scott Stewart

Medrobotics CEO Samuel Straface was leaving the office at about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28 when he noticed a man sitting in a conference room in the company's secure area, working on what appeared to be three laptop computers (one was later determined to be an iPad). Not recognizing the man as an employee or contractor, Straface, who did not identify himself, asked him what he was doing. The man replied that he had come for a meeting with the company's European sales director. The CEO said the sales director had been out of the country for three weeks. The man then stammered that he was supposed to be meeting with the company's head of intellectual property. Straface countered that he knew the department head didn't have a meeting scheduled for that time. Finally, the man claimed that he was there to meet CEO Samuel Straface. At that point, Straface confronted him.

The man said his name was Dong Liu and that he was a lawyer doing patent work for a Chinese law firm. He showed Straface a LinkedIn profile that listed him as a senior partner and patent attorney at the law firm of Boss & Young. Straface called the police, who arrested Liu for trespassing and referred the case to the FBI. On Aug. 30, the bureau filed a criminal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts charging Liu with one count of attempted theft of trade secrets and one count of attempted access to a computer without authorization. After his initial court appearance on Aug. 31, Liu was ordered held pending trial.

To understand Britain, read its spy novels

FEW countries have dominated any industry as Britain has dominated the industry of producing fictional spies. Britain invented the spy novel with Rudyard Kipling’s dissection of the Great Game in “Kim” and John Buchan’s adventure stories. It consolidated its lead with Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories and Graham Greene’s invention of “Greeneland”. It then produced the world’s two most famous spooks: James Bond, the dashing womaniser, and George Smiley, the cerebral cuckold, who reappears this week in a new book (see page 75).

What accounts for this success? One reason is the revolving door between the secret establishment and the literary establishment. Some of the lions of British literature worked as spies. Maugham was sent to Switzerland to spy for Britain under cover of pursuing his career as a writer. Greene worked for the intelligence services. Both Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, and John le Carré, the creator of Smiley, earned their living as spies. Dame Stella Rimington, head of MI5 in 1992-96, has taken to writing spy novels in retirement. It is as if the secret services are not so much arms of the state as creative-writing schools.

Another reason is that British reality has often been stranger than fiction. The story of the “Cambridge spies”—Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and the rest—is as far-fetched as it gets. One Soviet mole at the top of MI6 (Philby, who also worked for The Economist in Beirut); another even looking after the queen’s pictures (Blunt); a cover-up; a dash to the safety of the Soviet Union; larger-than-life characters such as the compulsively promiscuous and permanently sozzled Burgess.

11 September 2017

Artificial Intelligence and the Military

By Robert W. Button

The Department of Defense (DoD) is increasingly interested in Artificial Intelligence (AI). During a recent trip to Amazon, Google, and other Silicon Valley companies, Secretary of Defense James Mattis remarked that AI has “got to be better integrated by the DoD.” What do we mean by the term AI? In particular, what does “deep learning” mean? What are the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of using AI? What are potential additional military applications for AI?

What is AI?

AI is poorly understood in part because its definition is constantly evolving. As computers master additional tasks previously thought only possible by humans, the bar for what is considered “intelligent” rises higher. Recently, one of the most productive areas in the field of AI has been in technologies that can train software to learn and think on its own. This area is moving swiftly and appears to be accelerating. Simultaneously, “old school” AI using rule-based approaches are being abandoned. In the next decades, AI systems that can be trained, learn, and think independently will likely dominate the field of AI. This brings us to deep learning, a field that has made tremendous strides in recent years and generated considerable excitement.

5 September 2017

Is technology a threat to human intelligence?

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Some have been critical that defense and intelligence agencies appear to under-prioritize, under-resource and neglect human intelligence (HUMINT), as evidenced by declined funding.

To some degree, this is in favor of remote intelligence collection using modern and technological intelligence disciplines, including signals intelligence (SIGINT), image intelligence (IMINT) or communications intelligence (COMINT). These disciplines take intelligence from signals intercepts and both manned and unmanned assets in response to an increasingly complex world posing threats to human assets on the ground.

HUMINT, according to the CIA, is collected through clandestine acquisition of pictures, documents and other materials, overt collection by personnel overseas, debriefing of foreign nationals abroad and official contacts with foreign governments.

This perception of less reliance on HUMINT is best exemplified by a recent profile of a former U.S. diplomat by the Wall Street Journal, which points to potential pitfalls of relying solely on technological forms of intelligences at the perils of incorporating human intelligence. As the volume of HUMINT gathered from personal relationships began to decline, “In its place, policy makers in Washington turned to another form of information — the kind collected electronically and surreptitiously,” the profile said, citing security concerns in volatile Middle Eastern and South Asian countries post-9/11 preventing direct human contact.

1 September 2017

The Psychology Of Espionage

Dr. Ursula M. Wilder

People who commit espionage sustain double lives. When a person passes classified information to an enemy, he or she initiates a clandestine second identity. From that time on, a separation must be maintained between the person’s secret “spy” identity, with its clandestine activities, and the “non-spy” public self. The covert activities inescapably exert a powerful influence on the person’s overt life. They necessitate ongoing efforts at concealment, compartmentation, and deception of those not witting of the espionage, which includes almost everyone in the spy’s life. For some people, sustaining such a double identity is exciting and desirable; for others, it is draining and stressful. For a few heroic people, spying is a moral imperative that they would prefer to avoid but feel compelled to act on. This article focuses on spies whose espionage appears to be primarily self-interested, rather than altruistic or self-sacrificing. Within this criminal or treasonous type, specific psychological factors commonly occur, providing a guide to understanding the motives, behavior, and experiences of this type of spy. The risk of espionage can be reduced through understanding these psychological patterns and tailoring countermeasures accordingly.

31 August 2017

The Great US-China Biotechnology and Artificial Intelligence Race

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Eleonore Pauwels – Director of Biology Collectives and Senior Program Associate, Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. – is the 104th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.” 

Explain the motivation behind Chinese investment in U.S. genomics and artificial intelligence (AI).

With large public and private investments inland and in the U.S., China plans to become the next AI-Genomics powerhouse, which indicates that these technologies will soon converge in China.

China’s ambition is to lead the global market for precision medicine, which necessitates acquiring strategic technological and human capital in both genomics and AI. And the country excels at this game. A sharp blow in this U.S.-China competition happened in 2013 when BGI purchased Complete Genomics, in California, with the intent to build its own advanced genomic sequencing machines, therefore securing a technological knowhow mainly mastered by U.S. producers.

6 August 2017

Continuous Dissemination: Three Techniques for Improved Intelligence Support

by John G. Wildt and David Del Signore

In the 21st century, America’s adversaries are conducting operations and making decentralized decisions at increasing velocities. As intelligence professionals, we must provide timely intelligence support to maneuver commanders if we are to remain relevant. However, the traditional intelligence cycle itself has often stood in the way of our success during the last 15 years of counterinsurgency (COIN) and Gray Zone operations. Specifically, the fact that dissemination occurs at the end of the intelligence cycle has kept us at the mercy of the enemy’s decision cycle, which often has fewer constraints and is faster than ours. In order to fix this deficiency, the authors propose that “continuous dissemination” is the right mindset for 21st century military operations. Though nothing proposed in this article should be seen as revolutionary, the authors recognize that many intelligence professionals may not have had the advantage of deploying to and working in a high-op-tempo environment.

While serving as the intelligence staff for a special operations’ task force in Afghanistan in 2014, our team tested this approach and found the results to be excellent. We used three methods to ensure that we were synchronized with our maneuver elements. The first method we used was constant communication with the special operations teams we supported through the entire operational cycle. Some of our analysts were collocated with the teams to help plan operations, while other analysts at our headquarters made sure they disseminated all the intelligence they could find and develop. The second method we used was knowledge management. Our routine and predictable file architecture helped our supported teams find the information they needed, night or day. Finally, we worked hard to provide the best possible real time intelligence support once our teams were actively engaged with the enemy. Through trial and error, we developed what we believe is an excellent template for supporting troops in contact (TICs) with the enemy. We believe that these three methods together will provide intelligence professionals with an effective way to support their maneuver elements.

3 August 2017

Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat?

It is not unusual for disrupting technologies to be embraced and feared—and not necessarily in that order. That was and will continue to be true for all technologies that bring both benefit and risk; it is a duality in which many technologies have to exist. Examples throughout history have been the airplane, the automobile, unmanned weapons systems, and now even software – especially the software which powers artificial intelligence (AI).

Last week at a U.S. governors’ conference, Elon Musk, the CEO of the engineering companies SpaceX and Tesla, reportedly told the assembled politicians that “AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization,” sounding the alarm bell. This is not the first time Musk has expressed this concern, he’s done so as early as 2014. Many have branded him a Cassandra, and if he is, he’s not a lone-wolf Cassandra; he’s joined in those views by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and other experts. It is not surprising there is an equal number of experts who question Musk’s concern and believe his alarm bell is tolling for a non-existent threat.

I am not an expert in AI, nor am I an AI practitioner; I’m more of a national security and intelligence philosopher. Therefore, I am not sure I want to debate a man who is one of the foremost entrepreneurs and risk-takers of his time. That said, it may prove useful to unpack the issues a bit and also discuss what we find in the context of AI’s use in defense of the nation.

2 August 2017

The artificial intelligence arms race

Cyberspace is now a territory where politics, economics, and foreign affairs are all contested – and Internet bots driven by artificial intelligence have emerged as key new actors, Andrej Zwitter writes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is pervading all aspects of our lives. As one of the primary methods of analysing unstructured and messy data sets, it has become synonymous with big data. And with much of the globally produced data being transmitted via the Internet, a new cyber landscape has emerged, a parallel digital world that still requires the carving out of territories and rules.

These territories are currently dominated by large corporate actors, such as search engines and social media networks, which themselves compete over access to the new raw material – data. It is roamed by vigilantes and cyber criminals. But states also need to define their own role in this new world.

In recognition of this need, states are increasingly investing in artificial intelligence. China recently announced an IT strategy focusing on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and robotics. In doing so, the country is trying to ride the wave of renewed interest in emergent technologies around cyberspace, hoping to gain an economic advantage and position itself as technology leader by 2030. This foresight in national strategy might give China a decisive competitive edge over other countries that neglect the importance of artificial intelligence and robotics specifically for the emerging data economy.