CIA seeking new ways to protect officers’ secret identities online, says official

Dawn MeyerriecksIn a rare public appearance on Sunday, a senior member of the United States Central Intelligence Agency discussed ways in which ongoing technological changes pose challenges to concealing the identities of undercover operatives. Dawn Meyerriecks worked in industry for years before joining the CIA in 2013 as deputy director of the agency’s Directorate of Science and Technology. On April 22, she delivered one of the keynote speeches at the 2018 GEOINT Symposium. The meeting was held in Tampa, Florida, under the auspices of the Virginia-based United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, which brings together government agencies and private contractors.

In her speech, Meyerriecks discussed what she described as “identity intelligence”, namely the detailed piecing of a person’s identity from data acquired from his or her online activity and digital footprint left on wireless devices of all kinds. This data, combined with footage from closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems and other forms of audiovisual surveillance, poses tremendous barriers to clandestine operations, said Meyerriecks. Today, around 30 countries employ CCTV systems with features so advanced that they render physical tracking of human operatives unnecessary, she added. She went on to warn that the combination of these advanced systems with all-encompassing digital networks in so-called smart cities, as well as with the Internet of things, pose serious threats to the CIA’s ability to operate in secret. Abandoning the online grid is not a solution, said Meyerriecks, because doing so draws attention to the absentee. “If you have […] a six figure or low seven figure income, and you own no real estate, you don’t have any health [or] life insurance policies to speak of, you turn your cell phone off every day from 8:00 to 5:00, who do you work for?”, she said.

These technological challenges will not put an end human intelligence, but they are forcing “a sea of change” in the so-called “patterns of life” of clandestine operatives, said Meyerriecks. These operatives “are going to have to live their cover in a whole different way”, she said without elaborating. Ironically, technology may provide solutions to these challenges, for instance through phone apps that fake the geospatial coordinates of the device —“a growing area of research”, she remarked. Another example of a technological solution to the problem is the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to map CCTV camera networks in urban centers. These maps can help clandestine personnel avoid areas where camera networks are present, noted Meyerriecks.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 April 2018 | Permalink

Advertisements

News you may have missed #833

Dawn MeyerriecksBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Report states Switzerland increasingly targeted by spies. Cyber attacks and abductions of Swiss abroad were two of the main security challenges faced by Switzerland last year, according to report released on Tuesday by the alpine country’s Federal Intelligence Service (FIS). “Switzerland continues to be no priority for jihadist motivated attacks,” the report said. However, presenting the report, FIS head Markus Seiler said an Islamist attack on Swiss soil could not be ruled out. And Swiss nationals abroad were “more threatened than in the past by politically and terrorist motivated abductions”, he said.
►►Prosecutors raid South Korean spy agency. State prosecutors raided the headquarters of the National Intelligence Service of South Korea on Tuesday to investigate accusations that the spy agency used its agents and hired bloggers to influence the presidential election in December. The raid, which started in the morning and continued into the evening, was highly unusual, dealing a blow to the reputation of the spy agency. Such a raid would have been unthinkable decades ago when the agency had served as the main tool of political control for South Korea’s military dictators.
►►Former AOL VP to lead CIA tech and science division. The CIA has appointed Dawn Meyerriecks, former AOL Senior Vice President for Product Technology, as its new Chief of Science and Technology. According to Wired, Meyerriecks is the first internet executive to ever take a top-tiered position in the CIA. Some of the things Meyerriecks has done in the past include working as a Jet Propulsion Lab engineer for NASA, working as a Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Acquisitions and Technology, working as a Chief Technology Officer and Technical Director for the Joint Interoperabillity and Engineering Organization (JIEO), establishing an in-house app market for both spies and analysts, encouraging the US government to use open source software, and much more.

Situation Report: CIA venture group funds video recorder firm

In-Q-TelBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
On June 27, In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the Central Intelligence Agency and other members of the United States intelligence community, announced a strategic partnership with Looxcie, makers of the first ever “wear and share” videocam recorders. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In-Q-Tel, created in 1999, is the foremost strategic investor on behalf of the US Intelligence Community. Originally called “Peleus”, In-Q-Tel was initially associated with the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T).  Interestingly enough, the “Q” in In-Q-Tel’s branding is apparently derived from a fictional character in the James Bond movies referred to as “Q”.  As many movie fans will recall, “Q” was responsible for outfitting Bond and other 00s with the famed and awe-inspiring gadgetry and technical equipment needed for missions. Having evolved from the CIA’s DS&T, whose primary purpose is to “create, adapt, develop and operate technical collection systems and apply enabling technologies to the collection, processing and analysis of information”, In-Q-Tel’s strategic investments in dual-purpose technology firms is hardly surprising. In fact, In-Q-Tel has a notable track record, especially given the fact that it is a government-run venture capital fund. Successful as it may be, In-Q-Tel represents itself quite humbly, formally explaining that it is a “not-for-profit organization […] created to bridge the gap between the technology needs of the Intelligence Community and new advances in commercial technology”. Read more of this post

Egypt intelligence highlights Congress-CIA tensions

Egypt uprising

Egypt uprising

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A US Congressional hearing over a career CIA official’s promotion turned into a heated exchange on Thursday, as Congress members accused America’s intelligence community of failing to provide forewarning of the political instability in Egypt. Speaking before the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, Stephanie O’Sullivan, former Director of the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology, was faced with an unexpected barrage of questions concerning the Agency’s alleged failure to provide US policy planners with accurate warning of the Egyptian popular uprising. Shortly after the start of the hearing, which was intended to deliberate O’Sullivan’s nomination for the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, attention turned to Egypt, with members of the Committee pressuring the CIA executive to explain why the US intelligence community had failed to issue ample warnings on Egypt. O’Sullivan responded repeatedly that the CIA and other US intelligence services had provided warnings to Obama Administration officials in November and December of 2010, about extreme political volatility in North Africa. Read more of this post

The day a CIA-trained cat was run over by a taxi

Experiment fail

Experiment fail

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A newly declassified report shows that the US Central Intelligence Agency terminated an ambitious project to embed an elaborate wiretap mechanism in a cat, after several failed attempts at controlling the bugged cat’s behavior in real-life situations. The document (.pdf), entitled “Views on Trained Cats [Redacted] for [Redacted] Use”, dates from March 1967. It wraps up by stating that “the environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that, for our [redacted] purposes, [using bugged cats] would not be practical”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0119

  • CIA opens center on climate change. The CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology. It focuses on “the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources”. Methinks the emphasis will probably be on the latter.
  • Brazilian political figures spied on after dictatorship. Senior Brazilian politicians, religious leaders and activists were spied on illegally for 16 years after the 1964-1985 military regime, according to recent allegations in the country’s press. Major surveillance targets included Brazil’s current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, opposition leader and Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, and others.
  • New book examines life of Franco-sympathizer British spy. Jimmy Burns has written a biography of his father, Tom Burns, an anti-communist sympathizer of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who organized the British intelligence network in Spain during and after World War II.

Bookmark and Share