The cyber revolution and intelligence services: the collusion of two worlds
Whilst cyber and intelligence are two tightly-knit notions, the bridges between these two worlds need to be extended, because the massive increase in available data means that using it needs to easier. Harmonising the data, sharing and diffusing it, and making it available to services or specialists are the next issues that will need to be addressed to guarantee the quality and availability of this data.
INTELLIGENCE IN THE CENTURY OF DATA
The main issue for intelligence services consists in managing Big Data in order to produce relevant information. The 21st century is, definitively, the century of data; the data that’s becoming the mark made by each citizen, organisation, company or State during its digital journey, and that can potentially be exploited for a high added value (intelligence, identities, behaviours, etc.).
When faced with the high increase in data, however, the very essence of cyber intelligence doesn’t change. Its vocation continues to be the production of information – often within a limited timeframe – and acting as a decision-making tool. In this perspective, digitisation can effect real change, in that it allows true data deposits to be exploited better thanks to efficient Data Mining tools that bring together several structured and unstructured data processes.
And so, the intelligence roles of tomorrow, whether in crime, military, penitentiary or financial, will assume a level of agility and understanding of cyber and digital technology, which will be used for analysis. The data revolution therefore makes apparent the need for top engineers, ground officers, but also sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists or legal specialists, whose overlapping knowledge will enable the data to be sorted and to offer a conclusion; the ultimate aim of analysts who will always outrun machines.
Operators must, then, always be accompanied in order to tackle misinformation as well as the profusion of data head on. In fact, the manual exploitation of this ever increasing volume of cyber data exposes risks, making it difficult, or even impossible, to identify, structure and share useful information. Whilst technology represents a welcome tool in this approach, it must be processed by analysts as well as operators because it is vital, when faced with this avalanche of available data, to target, correlate, and even decrypt.
Today, the continued threat, not only outside our borders but on our own national territory, means that interoperability concerns us all. The wall between cyber and intelligence must now come down.