03 September 2007

A-Space: Intel 2.0...

A week or so from now around 8:30AM on the East Coast of the United States there will be many people remembering where they were six years ago. On September 11, 2001 we will stop and observe a minute of silence and reflect on all that has changed and been accomplished and what has stayed the same. It may seem like a distant memory for some, yet a bad dream from last night for so many others.

Sharing intelligence or the valuable aspects of relevance, to you, or your enterprise requires the proper tools and mechanisms. This is a given. However, all the operational risk tools and systems will never be the entire answer to finding the "needle in the haystack" or "connecting the dots". The DNI has been implementing the right kinds of methods and applications to help solve the equation for preventing catastrophic incidents of the magnitude of 9/11 in search of the correct answers:

It's hard to imagine spies logging on and exchanging "whuddups" with strangers, though. They are just not wired that way. If networking is lifeblood to the teenager, it is viewed with deep suspicion by the spy.

The intelligence agencies have something like networking in mind, though, as they scramble to adopt Web technologies that young people have mastered in the millions. The idea is to try to solve the information-sharing problems inherent in the spy world - and blamed, most spectacularly, for the failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In December, officials say, the agencies will introduce A-Space, a top-secret variant of the social networking Web sites MySpace and Facebook. The "A" stands for "analyst," and where Facebook users swap snapshots, homework tips and gossip, intelligence analysts will be able to compare notes on satellite photos of North Korean nuclear sites, Iraqi insurgents and Chinese missiles.

Sharing information is not the hard part. Analyzing it with the "grey matter" necessary to put 2 + 2 together beyond the capability of the algorithms of the software requires training and extreme context. Corporate Enterprises have been utilizing similar systems and tools on their secure Intranet's for years and the agencies are now taking the lessons learned and applying these to the social networking community of their analysts. Smart strategy as many of these "Outsourced" entities are operating from the private sector NOC or SOC and have been delivering intelligence products long before they were hired to do so for the government.

Observing the lessons from the Financial Services Industry on what works and what is treading on thin ice can be a helpful example. Sharing intelligence across organizations, platforms and between competitors has been the norm at SWIFT:

SWIFT is the industry-owned co-operative supplying secure, standardised messaging services and interface software to over 8,100 financial institutions in 208 countries and territories. SWIFT members include banks, broker-dealers and investment managers. The broader SWIFT community also encompasses corporates as well as market infrastructures in payments, securities, treasury and trade. Over the past ten years, SWIFT message prices have been reduced over 80%, and system availability approaches 5x9 reliability — 99.999% of uptime.
Swift is considered the nerve center of the global banking industry, routing trillions of dollars each day between banks, brokerages and other financial institutions. The group's partnership with the U.S. government, first revealed in media reports in June 2006, gave officials at the CIA access to millions of records on international banking transactions in an effort to trace money that investigators believed might be linked to terrorist financing. Swift agreed to turn over large chunks of its database in response to a series of unusually broad subpoenas issued by the Treasury Department beginning months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

At 8:30AM on 9/11 2007 during our moment of silence we can only pray that our Intel sharing continues and doesn't get strangled by those who have forgotten this day of remembrance.

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