#AceNewsServices – Editors Post: WASHINGTON: Feb.02: It isn’t the first time that SOCOM has looked into mining social media data for use in operations. Virtual image blogspot reported on this project that SOCOM: wanted to use for ‘ Data Mining’ called ‘ Quantum Leap ‘ in 2012. Though as Defense One News confirms that as cyber-hacking attacks have increased and cyber warfare is at the door they want to resurrect its use:
SOCOM: ‘ Project Quantum Leap ‘
Friday, August 9, 2013
The Federation of American Scientists Report: (cited below) provided the bulk of this particular blog post. It might disturb some. Others will feel, “what else is new?” Open source data mining has been in operation since Admiral Bobby Inman, USN (at the time, recently retired director of the National Security Agency) established the InterNIC in the late 1990’s to control the Internet in the US.
(FAS) The U.S. military has been investigating the use of sophisticated data mining tools to probe social media and other open sources in order to support military operations against money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and other threats. But the window for doing so may be closing as the social media landscape changes, according to an internal assessment.
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) National Capital Region (NCR) conducted a series of experiments over the past year under the rubric “QUANTUM LEAP ” that was intended to test “non-traditional” tools and techniques to advance the SOCOM mission.
An after-action report on the first experiment said it “was successful in identifying strategies and techniques for exploiting open sources of information, particularly social media, in support of a counter threat finance mission.” Counter threat finance refers to efforts to disrupt an adversary’s finances. A copy of the SOCOM NCR report was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Project QUANTUM LEAP: After Action Report,” 12 September 2012:
The Special Operations Command project included the implementation of:
- Social Bubble, a tool that searches Twitter-related content,
- Recon, which reconstructs source document from a raw data stream
- Semantica , which ingests structured and semi-structured data and forms relationship hierarchies that it displays both graphically and in text format.
A 2012 project called Quantum Leap sought to show that open source data, and particularly social media data, could be made useful to active military operations Defense One reported just recently.
The biggest technological outcome of the program was a plug-in piece of software called “Social Bubble,” designed by a Santa Rosa company called Creative Radicals. The Quantum Leap report authors describe Social Bubble as “a tool which summons data via the Twitter API to display Twitter users, their geographic location, posted Tweets and related metadata.”
According to the authors of the document, the experiment was a success not just in identifying individuals who were actively tweeting and posting but also—and far more importantly for the military—individuals who happened to be connected to them but who didn’t have a social media profile.
“Overall the experiment was successful in identifying strategies and techniques for exploiting open sources of information, particularly social media. Major lessons learned were the pronounced utility of social media in exploiting human networks, including networks in which individual members actively seek to limit their exposure to the Internet and social media.” [Emphasis added.] That’s key to developing an ability to deal with an enemy like the Islamic State, where every tweeting sympathizer could be connected to a target who would prefer to stay off the radar.
The end goal of much of this activity is something referred to as “human entity resolution.” In the most simple terms, that means figuring out not just the identity of the person visible in the sniper scope but the identities of the people connected to him or her.
Special operations fighters say that information could be critical during an operation. But how much of it can now be obtained quickly and legally? That’s become something of a murky issue. The 1982 document aside, not long ago, it was thought to be well settled that law enforcement and the military could use technology to collect information that would otherwise be public (such as your location in a car) and could use data that you gave to third parties like telephone companies. Huntley called those assumptions the basis for a lot of intelligence operations.
“Both of those assumptions have been called into doubt with recent Supreme Court revelations,” he said.
The Enemy Is Data Mining:
The ability to use social network data operationally is no longer unique to the U.S military. It also represents a growing vulnerability for people in uniform. Mathew Freedman, CEO of the firm Global Impact and a longtime Defense Department advisor, noted, “The digital exhaust issue becomes much more critical…when an airline knows everything you look at on Amazon…through data mining blogs and tweets that you are going to attend future NDIA events.” The bottom line for Freedman: “It will be harder for anyone to be clandestine.”
The military is currently testing a new encrypted communications devices that function like smart phone in Honduras (see also how the special forces pioneers of the so-called Blackphone). But encryption alone can’t solve every potential digital exhaust problem.
Consider the recent hack targeting the Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, which occurred because a Defense Department official did not enable two-factor authentication. The department on Wednesday put out a special instruction document urging employees to take common-sense security precautions. The sheer volume of data we create suggests the invisibility is impossible, both for our enemies and for us. The human race is expected to reach 40 zettabytes of a data a year by 2020, up from 4 zettabytes in 2013. “This is the technological context for every future special operations action,” said moderator Klone Kitchen, a special adviser for cyber-terrorism and social media at the National Counter-terrorism Center.
Because the work of special operations units is so valuable and so very dangerous, special ops fighters occupy a position of some privilege in the military. Republicans, Democrats and politicians every stripe love the idea of small teams of highly talented super warriors doing what it used to require a—very literal—army. And the American people love stories of extreme heroism hence a seemingly unquenchable appetite for Seal Team Six type media
But there’s a danger in relying on small teams to do too much, an intellectual trap to which two of the nation’s most controversial defense secretaries, Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld fell victim. It may be a behavior that we are repeating.
As McLeary notes, the 2012 White House National Security Strategy “places a premium on the use of special operations forces to operate — quietly — with allies on train and assist missions while continuing their counter-terror mission wherever Washington deems fit.”
Washington will continue to see fit to send special operations fighters to do a lot more in the coming years. That could include training, equipping, or helping fighters in places like Iraq, Pakistan or Syria. At some point, those fighters may ask, more publicly, for the ability to use controversial intelligence tools to accomplish those missions.
We may not have an answer for them:
As we keep being told: If you want to keep your data private, don’t use the internet, don’t use ‘digital money’ and don’t use telecommunications. Otherwise, you are an open book.
Though social media companies try to convince us to use their ‘ Free Services ‘ more and more, and joining with ‘ Data Mining Companies ‘ to share YOUR data maybe the only option left open to protect our security in the end. We shall see …… Editor.