Systems of Engagement Fight Cyber Crime

Systems of Engagement are where Mobile, Social Business, Cloud and Big Data / Analytics come together on a secure platform as a “seed change” in information technology for enterprise and government.


I outlined how these can add value to the Police in my first blog post in this series.  I will now explain – using storytelling – how Systems of Engagement can be used to fight Cyber Crime.

Cyber crime is on the rise, ranging from coordinating people trafficking, accessing sensitive corporate data to theft of large sums of money from banks and financial institutions.  Police intelligence organizations can look to the analysis of social media activities to understand the motivations, intent and activities of hostile groups and individuals who pose a threat to commerce, public safety and / or national security.

Liv Schmidt is approaching her first anniversary running the intelligence cell of a major European Capitol’s police force.  During this time Liv has seen a rapid increase of cyber crime especially targeted against the large banks in their financial quarter.  It appears that the bad guys increasingly use computers and social media to execute their attacks.  Thankfully, Liv’s unit has been able to respond in kind, get ahead of this threat and help maintaining their Capitol’s reputation as a safe place to do business.

The “fight back” started with Liv and her boss attending an IBM seminar on how commercial innovation – specifically social media, big data and analytics technologies – could be combined to help combat this evolving Cyber Terrorism threat AND make his department more efficient at intelligence production.  Too good to be true?  They thought so until IBM ran a pilot project for them . . .

Liv was no expert in Social Media.  She’d seen her kids glued to Facebook twenty-four hours a day, and was an occasional user of LinkedIn to keep track of her professional network.  Until the pilot started, Liv was unaware that commercial grade equivalent platforms were available to run behind their firewall and make it easy for her to form “ad hoc” teams (Liv thought of these as Rugby scrums) to work on intelligence product creation to counter the Cyber Threat. 

This means the “A-team” could be assembled to solve the problem based on their knowledge and expertise from ANYWHERE in the police force irrespective of their physical location, or organizational “silo”.  This made a significant difference in their ability to counter the vast number of attack types they faced today, ranging from large scale financial theft to the organisation of people trafficking.

The second phase of the pilot focused on collecting social media activity and using this to augment their Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) capability.  IBM built a collection and analysis system – initially working in parallel to existing systems – from standard commercial software building blocks.  They worked with experts to encode “tradecraft” into the rules based analysis process and used the i2 Analyst’s Notebook to allow Liv’s team members to visualize and analyze the network of bad guys.

The real breakthrough came when IBM put the two parts of the pilot project together.  Liv and her team were surprised to find that the “scrum based” analysis of social media interactions were as good as their traditional methods, but produced the results MUCH faster. 

With this confidence, Liv and her team demonstrated the system to their Police Chief just before a visit from the Minister of Finance.  They interrogated the Social Media Source system, and found of the twenty thousand records selected, five thousand warranted deeper analysis, resulting in six credible threats to their National Bank.  Based on these discussions, the Police Chief and Finance Minister decided to embark on an innovative new partnership to tackle Cyber Crime in the Capitol.

Liv is looking forward to her next two years in post – she has no idea what cyber crime activities her team will be required to counter – but has total confidence in their ability to deliver quality and timely intelligence product to his police colleagues making their Capitol a safer place to live and do business.

What benefits can accrue?

  • Excellent correlation with traditional intelligence collection methods
  • Improved time to intelligence product production
  • Improved team effectiveness in fighting cyber crime

What are the components involved in building this System of Engagement.

  1. IBM Connections handles the eCollaboration elements of this solution, enabling Liv’s team to form “scrums” to analyse cyber crime Intelligence material;
  2. a collection of IBM and partner products (including IBM Content Analyser, i2 Analyst Notebook, InfoSphere Streams, SPSS & Cognos) form the Social Media Analytics engine.

Please leave me a comment with your viewpoint, suggestions & feedback.   I’m very interested in an active debate on this topic!

See also my previous post introducing Police Systems of Engagement.

Director - Blockchain | National Security - CTO Team Europe

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