We now have information on 800,000 people in our terrorist databases. We have “big data,” as the people would say who pretend to know something about it. Big Data, they often claim, will solve the problem. To my mind, we have a big search, analysis and distribution problem, and despite “big data” claims of prowess, connecting the dots before a terrorist strikes is never going to be an easy thing.
Science and Technology
May 3rd, 2013 - by Ronald Marks
April 1st, 2013 -
In Security Debrief’s fourth annual April Fools coverage, we’ve collected some stories the rest of the media somehow missed.
When I attend various meetings around DC on cyber issues, I often see confusion and challenge – good people trying to resolve confusing issues, wrestling with individual – as well as the country’s – social and political demons. Cyber is a new kind of land. It has no physical dimension. There are no borders or boundaries, and everyone seems to be a part of something that no one can control. People in DC are bit lost right now, and there are some distinct cultural reasons why.
By Alex Sorin
The news of the violent gang rape of a young Indian woman on a public bus and her subsequent death has shocked the world and led to protests and unrest. While increased security is by no means the sole solution, certain security measures can help alert law enforcement of similar incidents and assist in catching the perpetrators. While surveillance technology can help, just as critical is an Incident Management System.
Many companies are examining the possibility of switching to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as a method of significantly reducing their IT infrastructure capital costs. Here is but another example of how short-term versus strategic thinking is creating havoc in American business. The dangers associated with BYOD far outweigh the short-term benefits. Convenience and a perception of cost reductions appear to again be trumping sound security practices.
September 28th, 2012 - by Robert Liscouski
Facing a deadly IED threat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Government developed an array of technologies to protect American troops against improvised bombs. With the troop draw down underway, these technologies are being brought home and could be valuable assets to homeland security professionals facing an IED threat in America.
May 18th, 2012 - by Robert Liscouski
While the United States successfully thwarted another attempted bombing of a domestic inbound aircraft by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the disrupted plot should tell Americans two important things: our intelligence and security agencies are doing excellent work, and continued vigilance is the price of security. We need every available tool to combat and protect against terrorists, and this means speeding up the rate at which America procures and implements counter-terrorism technology.
April 30th, 2012 - by David Olive
Sunday’s LA Times contains a story that every Member of Congress and homeland security stakeholder ought to read. For the first time that I can remember, AMO Chief Michael Kostelnik, CBP’s main evangelist for acquiring Predator UAVs for border enforcement, admits that the results have NOT been impressive, especially in helping capture illegal drug runners.
I recently published a piece in Defense Media Network about the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence (CoE) initiative. This is an important effort in building America’s homeland capabilities and in developing homeland security as profession. Homeland agencies receive security solutions, the CoE receive work and research from intelligent students, and the students themselves acquire the skill sets and experience needed to propel them into homeland security careers.
For better or worse, social media is the billboard of our lives in today’s digital world. Recent news stories detailing how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was monitoring media outlets, news sites, and other social networking platforms have raised some eyebrows, but it would be completely irresponsible for DHS, intelligence, or law enforcement authorities to ignore these valuable resources and the information and insights they can provide.
Having been involved with DHS’ Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act) since its inception, my antenna are always alert for mentions of it. Like in late 2008, I am surprised that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s 2nd Annual Address on the State of America’s Homeland Security did not include a pat on the back for the Department’s remarkable milestones achieved in the past year. Nevertheless, the SAFETY Act Office’s list of accomplishments are impressive and growing.
January 25th, 2012 -
By Seth Stodder
This week, the Supreme Court dipped its toes into the muddy waters of how modern surveillance technologies – in this case, GPS tracking – fit within the 200-year-old confines of the Fourth Amendment. In United States v. Jones, the Court ruled that the DC Police and the FBI violated the Fourth Amendment when they placed a GPS tracker on a Jeep Cherokee driven by criminal suspect Antoine Jones, and then tracked it for 28 days – all without a valid search warrant.
In the Second World War, the iconic phrase “loose lips sink ships” summed up the need for keeping information that could be useful to the enemy to only those who need it. It’s 70 years later and the social imperative for who needs information has diametrically changed. On any social networking site, there are opportunities for our enemies to identify us and use that information to plan attacks, both physical and cyber.
January 16th, 2012 - by HSPI
The Homeland Security Policy Institute released an issue brief highlighting the value of applying analytic tradecraft techniques more widely throughout the homeland security community. Author and HSPI Senior Fellow Jon Nowick maintains that as the homeland security community faces evolving threats, it must tap every opportunity to use resources smartly.
Customs and Border Protection’s recently announced it had received a second Predator-B Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Corpus Christi, Texas. As the Los Angeles Times disclosed in a must-read story for anyone interested in eliminating wasteful federal spending, the Corpus Christi-based UAV was one of three Predator UAVs that CBP would be accepting, even though there were not enough pilots to fly the ones that they already had. Why aren’t the budget hawks in Congress doing something about this? What in the world are they thinking?
The recently identified “Duqu” worm has raised a whole new set of issues. Seemingly a variant of the Stuxnet malware that got so much of the world’s attention, everyone is trying to figure out what it “means.” Stuxnet opened a new window, and Duqu is only the first of many. The rub is, unlike Stuxnet, which targeted Iranian centrifuges, Duqu may be coming directly at you and your systems.
In this era of budget austerity, telework is an effective way to reduce agency costs and increase productivity. Recognizing these benefits, federal agencies have implemented telework policies and an increasing number of employees are taking advantage of the option. At the same time, however, teleworking presents significant security challenges. Agencies can reduce telework risks through the use of Trusted Computing.
September 27th, 2011 - by Justin Hienz
When the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began using full-body scanners in airports, the now-iconic “naked” images spurred a public debate over privacy and security. As a result, TSA has started implementing new software in its Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, removing anatomical detail and automatically targeting concealed objects on a generic outline. This technology will have at least two notable ramifications: airport security infrastructure footprint should shrink and the debate over full body scanners will shift away from privacy concerns.
August 31st, 2011 - by David Olive
As the East Coast is cleaning up from the effects of Hurricane Irene, pundits have not been shy in expressing opinions about the use (mostly about the benefits) of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to get information out to affected audiences. The FCC has launched an inquiry into whether phone calls to 911 emergency response agencies were affected by congestion on the cellular phone communications networks. The FCC might also look into how media solicitations for viewer video affects network congestion.
For the past several years, DHS has quietly been testing various forms of advanced technology to identify, detect and deter criminal and/or terrorist acts before they happen. It appears DHS is trying to emulate the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report.” Yet, several experts believe that relying on the current technology will create many false positives, targeting innocent people for additional questioning and slowing down security queues at busy airports. We don’t need to waste scarce government monetary resources trying to develop “thought crime software.”