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Web and social media intelligence transforms security and safety planning

Tapping Web and social media sources to locate data streams offers beneficial results including the ability to identify trends and expedite investigations

Over the course of the last decade, we’ve seen a blurring of lines between cyber and physical security concerns. Whether it’s the hacking of corporate information or the use of social media for nefarious activities, it’s clear that these once-separate security disciplines are often tied together.

As a result, various organisations seek ways in which they can collaborate and share information to gain greater situational awareness to react faster, smarter and more efficiently. The overall goal is to see the process of security from a single lens to achieve comprehensive risk mitigation efforts.

Stakeholders must detect and neutralise potential threats quickly, as well as seek out new forms of intelligence to be one step ahead of the curve. The growing acceptance of Big Data analysis and the Internet of Things (IoT) enables the collection of relevant data across systems, services, and devices, driving alliances to deter, prevent, and investigate threats and improve safety.

Role of data analysis

Data analysis is the process of examining large data sets to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences, and other useful business information to anticipate, respond and take action. The amount and types of structured and unstructured data are growing rapidly, and present new and increasing challenges. Organisations that generate actionable intelligence from collected data points, such as financial organisations, corporate enterprises and government agencies, are better positioned to create value and achieve their strategic objectives.

Organisations that generate
actionable intelligence from
collected data points are better
positioned to create value and
achieve their strategic objectives

Stakeholders are driven by an alignment with risk management, IT and business continuity to provide a comprehensive security strategy that takes into account cyber and physical security and recognises the potentially damaging disruptions if not threats are not controlled. New services, tools, and methods are valuable to help users mitigate risks more effectively. Here is a look at two processes gaining significant interest:

Web and social media intelligence

The Web and social media are of critical importance to security leaders, as these platforms are the gateway to a vast array of information that can help enhance security, investigate breaches, and streamline operations. The process of tapping into Web and social media sources to locate data streams offers beneficial results including the ability to identify trends and expedite investigations. This process helps transform raw information into valuable data by capturing valuable evidence that can be used to mitigate risks, build critical insights, and identify targets.

Everyone is online and therefore, we all leave digital breadcrumbs that can be used to determine our activities online and help determine offline activity as well. In criminal cases, the Web is a valuable tool to collect information about potential criminals from their conversations on social networks and blogs, engagement with news sites, and entrance into the Dark Web. Data derived from these sources allows investigators to pinpoint targets more efficiently.

Web intelligence is realised through a combination of broad searches across the Internet, and locating and opening up hidden sites. Using managed crawlers and socially-engineered avatars, open source intelligence solutions find data that cannot be found in any other way. Investigators can reconstruct social circles, interpret emerging events, and discover persons of interest through customised alerts, behavioural profiles, and geospatial identification that all work cohesively to help achieve actionable intelligence.

In criminal cases, the Web is a valuable tool to collect information about potential criminals from their conversations on social networks
By detecting high-risk posts, and identifying potential threats and targets, organisations can help prevent crime and terrorism before it happens

By detecting high-risk posts, and identifying potential threats and targets, organisations can help prevent crime and terrorism before it happens — resulting in more proactive security planning. Collected data from the Web allows users to gain forensic insight into what occurred during an incident, rebuild the sequence of events, understand the big picture of what caused the event, and how the response was carried out for a better chain of evidence and accountability.

Social media is not only valuable in identifying potential security events or suspects, it is now being used to facilitate greater citizen engagement, empowering the general public to participate in the safety of their communities. This facet of social media intelligence gives authorities the ability to collaborate with the public when situations occur, which can help achieve a greater level of situational awareness through an “eyes on the street” approach. By providing critical information and input, citizens help safety officials carry out evidence-based, targeted public safety interventions in a proactive manner.

Transforming security and safety planning

Linking Web and social media intelligence, cyber security, and physical security together helps transform security and safety planning, and helps create the intersections and correlations of details surrounding a situation to present a unified scenario to the appropriate analysts and operators. By capturing and analysing this data in real-time, leaders gain a visual representation of risks while accessing information related to the most critical events happening at any given time. Not only does this unified process help enable a higher and more proactive level of protection, but it also facilitates a plan of action based on a centralised security operations centre.

There is no doubt that the nature of what threatens the world will continue to change and evolve. It is important that we continue to innovate and enhance countermeasures, expand the ability to share information across channels and find new ways to leverage tools that help drive greater situational awareness. With robust intelligence, stakeholders can respond faster, smarter, and more efficiently to address, or even prevent, future security challenges.


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