Feeds

NSA searches for advanced data mining tech

Silicon Valley shopping spree

Boost IT visibility and business value

The National Security Agency (NSA) visited Silicon Valley this month on the hunt for private sector technology to beef up its already formidable snooping and signals intelligence portfolio. Data mining technologies to search for connections between seemingly unrelated snippets of information was top of the NSA's shopping list, according to venture capitalists who held meetings with agency officials.

The New York Times reports that the agency is hunting for technology that fits with its increased emphasis on scanning millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails for 'suspicious' patterns. "The theory is that the automated tool that is conducting the search is not violating the law. [But] anytime a tool or a human is looking at the content of your communication, it invades your privacy," Mark D Rasch, former head of computer-crime investigations for the Justice Department and current SVP of computer security firm Solutionary, said.

According to the NYT, the NSA is seeking to extend data mining techniques (already widely used in the private sector by credit card companies and the like) by applying analysis tools used by law enforcement agencies in the search for potential terrorists. It lists a crime investigation spreadsheet called Analyst's Notebook, which allows investigators to view telephone and financial records of suspects, and visualisation tools from firms such as i2, as examples of the types of technologies the agency is interested in.

One security expert said the surveillance tools adopted as part of the Bush administration's anti-terrorist eavesdropping program are misguided. "In many respects, we're fighting the last intelligence war," John Arquilla, a professor of defence analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a consultant on the Total Information Awareness project said. "We have not pursued data mining in the way we should."

Arquilla argued that the estimated $40bn a year spent on data mining programs would be better redirected in matching up information available from public source, such as "internet chat rooms used by Al Qaeda". ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.