Cyber Security Intelligence

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April Newsletter 2014

Governments are using Metadata to analyse your Actions, Personality and Behavior

It has become clear that Intelligence agencies like the NSA, DGSE and GCHQ are collecting and storing online metadata of millions of Web users regardless of their crime or non-crime activities. Earlier Snowden has also disclosed documents that describe the NSA’s metadata collection system as Marina which give life patterns of individuals analysed.

Recently the US government said that it wants to stop the metadata collection and the data would remain in search and telephone companies systems. The companies would now be only allowed to store the data for 18 months as apposed to the 5-year storage of organisations like the NSA.

What the Metadata can allow analysis to do is to track the activities, interests and behaviors of the individuals that it is analysing. The system uses algorithms to predict personality types and behavior models. This gives an overall view of personality behavior, which can then be subject to more in-depth analysis by individual analysis and system predictions. This gives Intelligence operations powerful systems to discover connections between individuals, organisations, criminals, friends and enemies.

In Europe there has also been news in Le Monde confirming that the Orange telecoms company has been cooperating for over thirty years with the French intelligence agency the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) allowing collection and analysis of phone, mobile and web data.

Back in the US researchers at MIT Media Laboratory have researched the use of Metadata and have discovered that your individual activity and behavior patterns in cyber-space can be used to predict your personality type. MIT used surveys of students that could predict extroverts, compassionates, neurotics, open and self-disciplined giving a five factor model of personality types.

Metadata summarizes the data it is looking at and this can include everything in cyber from information, data, pictures, maps, passwords, phone calls, web site visits to account details and this is being stored by the NSA, DGSE, GCHQ and the likes of Google.

And so we are being watched and mobiles and cars transmit our location. This of course enables us to know what’s in the neighborhood we are visiting but it is now clear that systems are enabling others to track us. And it is now clear that governments and some corporates are tracking us.

In Dragnet Nation, Julia Angwin of The Wall Street Journal has written a book from the front lines of America’s surveillance economy, a revelatory and unsettling look at how the government, private companies, and even criminals use technology to indiscriminately sweep up vast amounts of our personal data.

Her book is a cautionary tale for all of us, with profound implications for our values, our society, and our very selves.

Related story

Russia has gone cyber-mobile but the Ukraine crisis has a price

Russian web and mobile use has been affected by its military intervention into the Crimea and Ukraine because the Russian government has been blocking sites that contain what they consider to be extremist material about the crisis.

The government has been blocking of, and for inciting unauthorized demonstrations against Russia.

Yet the first sign of a possible thaw in the crisis came last Friday night, when Obama and Putin spoke an hour on the phone together and discussed what the White House is describing as a “diplomatic resolution”. Now John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, have met last Monday in Paris.

And now because of the US and EU restrictions and financial tariffs that have come into force the markets in Russia have been severely affected. There has been falls in the rouble, bond markets and a stock market fall of over ten percent taking over £45 billion off Russian companies valuation.

The affects on the broadband infrastructure has been significant and is attempting to restrict wider broadband use whilst at the same time the use of mobiles and the web has been increasing.

Like many emerging markets, Russia is dealing with a limited broadband infrastructure but this is combined with brand-savvy, active consumers who are willing to spend online. The surge in online demand is taxing the capacity of more traditional regional e-commerce infrastructures, and this is sending more and more shoppers to mobile channels to make their purchases. The level of access to the Internet via a mobile, compared to more traditional PCs, is a particularly distinctive trait of the Russian market, which is now being pressured by changes in use and the affects of the West on the Russia economy.

A CEO for America and a 51st State

There has been a humorous but also slightly forward thinking idea to make Silicon Valley the 51st State of the US and there has also been currently a comic petition to make Eric Schmidt, CEO Google, to be CEO of America.

Yet there are actual techies trying to get into politics. Last week it was an open source programmer with eyes on congress, this week we have the founder of Pirate Bay Peter Sunde  looking to get into the European Parliament and Megaupload founder/all-round maverick Kim Dotcom launching his own political party in New Zealand. There are suggestions that we have the start of a technocratic revolution.

BlackBerry loses the President?

BlackBerry may be about to lose their highest profile user after reports surfaced that President Obama may ditch his BB for a Samsung or LG phone. However the company has won security clearance from the White House for its Enterprise services, while the company is said to be focusing hard on its ‘connected car’ QNX operating system

Fashion Glasses

Google have announced that they will be using Ray-Ban maker Luxottica for the next Google Glass model. "We believe the challenge of convincing consumers to wear computers on their face is a fashion problem as much as it is a technology problem," UBS analyst Fred Speirs told Reuters.

IBM’s Cognitive Cities!

Through the Smarter Cities initiative IBM launched three years ago, it continues to teach the world what big data can do by launching a new technology in the French city of Lyon, for example, to improve traffic flow by predicting points of congestion. IBM is also launching new curriculums centered on big data and analytics at schools like Georgetown and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in an effort to prepare students for the estimated 4.4 million big-data jobs that will be created by 2015. It is also creating Cognitive Computing products that learn on the job and are aimed at assisting you to do your job more effectively.

General Electric wants an Industrial Internet

For harnessing data from its planes and trains to power a new Industrial Internet, potentially saving billions. General Electric is best known for its machine making, but it’s gotten smart and branded itself as a big-data company, too, by pushing its vision for an "Industrial Internet"—the notion that machines should be connected like the web in order to increase efficiency and reduce downtime. In 2012, it launched software to help airlines and railroads move their data to the cloud and partnered with Accenture to form Taleris, a start-up that will help airlines predict mechanical malfunctions and reduce flight cancellations. The Abu Dhabi–based Etihad Airways was the first to deploy the tech in November.

More Information

CERT - Cyber Emergency Response Team launched in UK

Francis Maude of the UK's Cabinet Office announced the launch of CERT, which is aimed at co-ordination of the UK’s cyber defence systems. Speaking at the launch, Maude said that 93% of large corporations had had "a breach" over the past financial year.

The attacks cost on average between £450,000 and £850,000, he said. However he also claimed that cyber was a commercial opportunity and that the government has budgeted £860million for the UK’s cyber security.

According to its website,, CERT-UK would issue an alert and appropriate guidance in the event of a critical national cyber-security incident.


The quiet of the winter months has gone as Dell bought analytics firm StatSoft, Yahoo! have bought eAccess for an impressive $3.17 billion SAP have gobbled up Cloud firm Fieldglass, and Lithium technologies have taken over Social scoring site Klout. The larger story was Facebook announcing the $2 billion acquisition of Virtual Reality start-up and crowd funding Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rif headset.

The full web site is currently under development and will be available soon!