Social networking tools must be a core part of national defense, harnessing the power of communities of interest to collaborate and share knowledge to address a range of issues from analyzing intelligence data to post-war recovery initiatives, according to panelists speaking this week at the Open Government and Innovations Conference in Washington.
Social media software is being used by activists, businesses, governments and even criminals and terrorists worldwide and, as a result, cannot be ignored, panelists acknowledged.
Totalitarian regimes that do not want to give their citizens the right to petition government see the value of social networking tools as propaganda tools, said Lewis Shepherd, a former senior technology officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency and currently chief technology officer with Microsoft’s Advanced Technology in Government.
Shepherd cited the recent elections in Iran in which the Iranian government used Web filtering software to block its citizens from access to Facebook. Later, the regime realized the potential of spreading anti-western propaganda through Facebook pages, which it set up through front groups, he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win the [game] if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not in it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Shepherd said, citing the need for U.S. defense and government agencies to embrace social media.
Social media appears to be unleashing the knowledge of intelligence analysts, helping them solve problems by connecting them with analysts throughout the intelligence community.
A-Space, a social network modeled after MySpace and Facebook for U.S intelligence analysts and covert operatives across 16 agencies to share information, is gaining traction after some initial skepticism
Based on Jive SoftwareÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Social Business Software (formerly Clearspace) solution, A-Space lets the analysts create workspaces on various subject matter, such as the avian flu, Iranian elections or Somali piracy on which they can share information and collaborate on projects.
There are abut 1,400 to 1,500 workspaces in A-Space
A-Space was launched last September and nearly a year later, 150 new people are signing up every day
Better situational awareness, data visualization and better ways of working with data are functionalities that continue to be enhanced
Department of Defense Intelligence Information
Systems (DoDIIS) conference in Orlando, and one of the more interesting
sessions was on “How Adversaries Exploit Poor OPSEC” given by a couple
of Defense Intelligence Agency guys.
I think the WWII era motto on the subject was “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”
So what are we letting slip in our online existence, in the era of
social media, which is all about sharing information with (in many
cases) perfect strangers and online personas who may not be who they
claim to be?
As part of the presentation, DIA’s Nick Jensen, a Cyber Operator /
Analyst for OPSEC Operations, ran through a scenario that talked about
how easy it would be for an adversary to find a DIA employee on a site
such as LinkedIn and start piecing together a picture of who that
person is, what his job function is, what his political views are, who
he is associated with (online friends or connections), and what his
In an earlier era, Ã¢â‚¬Å“loose lips sink shipsÃ¢â‚¬Â was the militaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s warning not to let even small details about military movements and operations slip in casual conversation. In contrast, social media Web sites today thrive on loose lips, making it even tougher to maintain operational security.
The problem is not so much people twittering away secrets as letting slip many smaller pieces of information that an adversary can piece together.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a tendency to think that if information is not classified, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s OK to share,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Jack Kiesler, chief of cyber counter intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, in a presentation last month in Orlando, Fla., at the DODIIS Worldwide Conference for intelligence information systems professionals.