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Government Security United States IT Technology

DARPA Fears Big Data Could Become Big Threat 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the we've-discovered-that-al-qaeda-is-incorporating-'data'-into-their-plans dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "For most businesses, data analytics presents an opportunity. But for DARPA, the military agency responsible for developing new technology, so-called 'Big Data' could represent a big threat. DARPA is apparently looking to fund researchers who can 'investigate the national security threat posed by public data available either for purchase or through open sources.' That means developing tools that can evaluate whether a particular public dataset will have a significant impact on national security, as well as blunt the force of that impact if necessary. 'The threat of active data spills and breaches of corporate and government information systems are being addressed by many private, commercial, and government organizations,' reads DARPA's posting on the matter. 'The purpose of this research is to investigate data sources that are readily available for any individual to purchase, mine, and exploit.' As Foreign Policy points out, there's a certain amount of irony in the government soliciting ways to reduce its vulnerability to data exploitation. 'At the time government officials are assuring Americans they have nothing to fear from the National Security Agency poring through their personal records,' the publication wrote, 'the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records.'"
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DARPA Fears Big Data Could Become Big Threat

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  • by GLMDesigns (2044134) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @02:22PM (#44566999) Homepage
    No. But it certainly makes you wonder what sort of analysis is currently being run by our government. As processing speeds increase (a thousand fold in the next 10-15 years) such analysis could be run by many organizations.
  • Well, naturally... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @02:24PM (#44567041)

    It's the ability to destroy anyone's career or political ambitions through selective "summarization", and to win with certainty over any competing business in any industry with unmatchable demographic and competitive analysis information.

    Of course the NSA wants to be the only people with this particular "weapon", and likewise the only people their corporate cronies' revolving-doors are open for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @02:35PM (#44567133)

    If DARPA is looking into this, that means that they are looking at whether the *analytics* applied to publicly or purchasable big datasets could mine information like troop buildup/movements, military targets, etc., etc.

    For example, if I'm a subcontractor of a defense contractor and I suddenly post on the Interwebz that I am purchasing 300 million gallons of drone aviation fuel, you might be able to combine that with other little bits of data (e.g. another subcontractor suddenly posts that they are purchasing 15,000 airline tickets to Giblisztan), you might be able to predict that a strike is coming in and react appropriately.

    Obviously the DoD and their contractors attempt to make sure that those obvious details above aren't readily available, but you might still be able to piece together US military activities pretty readily from even tiny bits of correlated information that are available.

    However, from the original summary:

    the publication wrote, 'the military is worried that Russia or al Qaeda is going to wreak nationwide havoc after combing through people's personal records.'

    If that's really what was written in the original publication, then whoever wrote that did a terrible fucking job of analyzing what DARPA really wants this for and conveying that in writing, or was just trying to turn this into clickbait/fear-mongering/whatever.

  • by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @03:03PM (#44567429) Homepage Journal

    It also won't happen because it's so easy for companies to argue that the information is voluntarily being shared with the company. And the thing is, the company is actually correct in observing this. As to what they may do with that information, well, it's moot as long as the government can demand it at any time.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @03:27PM (#44567657) Homepage

    It also won't happen because it's so easy for companies to argue that the information is voluntarily being shared with the company. And the thing is, the company is actually correct in observing this.

    Of course, that's bullshit, but they'll claim it.

    As an experiment, I just went to the LA Times website. By your theory, if my bullshit blockers hadn't blocked revsci.com, gigya.com, newsinc.com, jumptime.com, and brightcove.com -- then I will have voluntarily provided information to these fuckers.

    So, no, just because sites put web bugs, ads, polls, and all sorts of 3rd party shit in their web pages that might not be obvious -- that doesn't mean there was anything voluntary (or even informed) in this. It means a sneaky bunch of marketing assholes are in there without asking me, and they feel self entitled to do so.

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