Feeds

Cryptome releases list of social sites monitored by DHS

Situational awareness in a social media age

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Venerable internet repository Cryptome has released a list of social media web sites that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) monitors to gauge the mood of the online populace.

The document lists 96 sites, including social media, blogs and news aggregators, which have been monitored since January 2011. Almost all require no password to access – the two exceptions being Facebook and Twitter.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) employs social media monitoring for situational awareness purposes only, within the clearly defined parameters articulated in our Privacy Impact Assessment, to ensure that critical information reaches appropriate decision-makers,” Chris Ortman, DHS spokesman told The Register.

The doctrine of situational awareness is as old as the hills - Sun Tzu espoused it over 2,000 years ago with: “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

In days gone by intelligence agencies had people on the ground to measure this kind of public mood, usually embassy staff or paid stringers who would send in memos on the state of play. This was expensive, occasionally dangerous and often highly inaccurate, as the surprise among Western intelligence agencies showed at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Nowadays it’s much simpler. With so many people posting their thoughts online all that is needed is a few people in front of monitors and some fairly basic web tools - the biggest problem is filtering out all the dross. Plenty of companies offer this kind of service and El Reg wonders how well the DHS would stand up to competitors in the market if tested.

According to people familiar with the matter the monitoring covers a variety of purposes, but it's mainly basic information gathering. The inclusion of sites like Google Flu Trends and Healthmap.org show an interest in disease tracking. It's also handy for disasters - news of last year's East Coast earthquake traveled faster on Twitter than the shockwaves them themselves. Some bright spark is even getting getting paid to watch Hulu and YouTube videos for a living. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.