Feeds

No techno fix for crime or terrorism cops

Serious barriers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada The Tamil Tigers were early adopters of the Web, and use their deep knowledge of search engines to help drown out their critics. al-Qaeda sleeper cells set up online chat rooms to keep in touch. Drug dealers were among the first and most exuberant users of cell phones and pagers.

Law enforcement also uses increasingly networked tools to combat criminal activities, but they can’t just google their way through a single mass database searching for patterns of criminal acvitity.

"Even within the United Kingdom there are a number of databases," says Detective Inspector Terry Pearce, a member of the anti-terrorism squad of the Metropolitan Police. “You could check three and you could think: ‘That’s exhausted it.’ Whereas you haven’t exhausted it and it might come on the fourth of fifth.”

The problem is further compounded by national borders: “Bridges are being built at the moment with the different European countries to try and cut down on the number of databases that you would have to check to satisfy yourself that have searched every database for that particular individual, or for that particular piece of information.”

But DI Pearce says a single database, or even a single entry point to all of that intelligence data out there, isn’t going to happen any day soon.

“It’s something that is being considered at the moment, but you never are going to have utopia,” he said in an interview following his presentation at crime and terrorism conference organized by the Centre for Conflict Studies at the University of New Brunswick.

Dr. David Charters, the centre’s director, recently completed a study of information flow involving law enforcement and public safety officials in Canada’s four Atlantic provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland / Labrador.

“There are a whole range of issues, including acess,” he says. “Who do you share with? How widely do you share? What do you share? Can you do that and maintain security?”

He said his research also uncovered serious technical barriers to information and intelligence exchange. “It’s pervasive throughout government,” he said.

Peter Gill, a leading British scholar and author on intelligence and security issues, said even if it was technically possible to link all of these islands of information together into one Great Big Database, it would be pointless.

“GIGO still applies,” he says. “Garbage in, garbage out. It’s still the dominant rule of computer systems.”

Gill says the further the information is from its source, the more likely it’s simply wrong.

“It would be unmanageable,” DI Pearce agrees, and also notes concerns about security leaks and the age-old problem of jurisdictional jealousy: “People would still hold their best intelligence back, which is the biggest fear.”

Meantime, most of those in the crime and terrorism fighting business, can’t rely on the old, re-active way of doing business: “A bomb had gone off, there was a hole in the ground. You then had to do an investigation to find out who did it.”

All that changed since September 11th.

“We’ve got to take a proactive approach, rather than wait for it to happen.”

DI Pearce says technology can help, and points to the widely advertised, toll free, anti-terrorism telephone line that generates dozens of tips each week. “That’s been a great success,” he says.

The conference attracted delegates from more than a dozen countries, including US, Romania, China, Haiti, Panama and the UK, among others.

Copyright 2003 Smartypants.com Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.