Category Archives: Risk Tools

Protect yourself and your company against the new GOZeuS and CryptoLocker malware threat

iStock_000011474668Medium

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have both issued statements this week warning PC users with Windows operating systems of two new malware threats: GameOver ZeuS (GOZeuS) and CryptoLocker.

Find out more about this malware threat and how you can protect yourself and your business against it here.


 Article by Frances Nobes, follow her @FrancesNobes

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

Guide to finding Breaking News like Intelligence Analysts

News

Editor’s note: It should be noted that there are industry specific tools for finding breaking events; however, in an effort to add value to all readers, this article will focus on open-source breaking news collection and analysis.

Breaking News

In the field of intelligence, political and security analysis, gathering and managing relevant and up-to-date information is a core competency. The key word for us is breaking news. Although there are wonderful sources to find popular news, such as Digg and Reddit, and although print media is not necessarily as dead as my Myspace account, these sources are too slow. The idea is to find events faster than this, as they are breaking, so that our analysts can decide if the specific event is relevant. In other words, we need a speedy, but accurate, detection method for finding news that could potentially impact on our clients. Finding breaking news is not only important for the intelligence industry, but for any industry or individual that wishes to stay up to date with global developments. As such, this article on how to find breaking news will begin on broad terms and then narrow in focus, fitting the needs of both the casual newshound and the expert security analyst.

The Big Boys

Big Boys

Firstly, there are a number of big players that warrant mention. These are the news media industry leaders, and although they might not always be the first to run stories, they are generally more reliable than smaller news agencies. However, while an agency may be large, it is not always reliable (I am looking at you, Fox and Xinhua). There are also concerns that press accuracy, specifically in the US, is in decline; hopefully robots will fix this soon. A general tip to follow is that if one is unsure about a source, look for the origin of the story and find at least one more source to corroborate. A good dictum to live by here is Narayan Murthy’s adage: “In God We Trust; everyone else must bring data.” Below is a list of news sources I generally find to be more reliable.

My top picks:

Keep it local

Local

In South Africa we have a saying: local is lekker (local is nice/good). This also applies when finding breaking news. Local and regional news agencies are often the first to run breaking news stories. Although this might sound like common sense, if one is interested in a specific area, it is important to make sure to follow the news agencies from that region. These sources are often invaluable. Even If the news is in a foreign language, just translate the whole site!

At red24, we are split into specific regions. I focus on analysis of South America; as such, below I have provided a breakdown of some of my regional/local sources for Brazil. Other regional sources can also be found here and here.

 

Latin American Herald Tribune

 

Jornal Do Brasil

 

The Rio Times

 

Tribuna de Metropolis

 

Social media is your friend

Twitter

Probably the most powerful tool at your disposal for catching breaking news is Twitter and other social media (SM) channels. People tweet and post about everything, and if you can catch relevant leads before the crowd, you are area already ahead of the game. As with the above-mentioned sources, not all Tweets are equal, and one has to be careful with what one believes. However, optimising Twitter with the help of social media manger programmes and proper twitter lists can help you to weed out unreliable content and stay on top of the news. Furthermore, a quick search in Twitter itself can also provide you with alternative and updated sources.

My favourite SM Tools

For more useful SM-management tools, please click here.

Twitter Lists I use daily

The humble keyword search

Often overlooked, but never to be underestimated, is the keyword search. Depending on your industry, there are multiple significant words that can guide your search for relevant news. You can bookmark a number of Google searches with your keywords, or you can set up alerts, so that these keywords can find you. Keyword searches with Twitter are also essential and the tools above can help you set up these permanent searches. Please note that if you are looking for news in a specific area where English is not the dominant language, by all means search in the local language and on the local version of Google. Here is an example of a common keyword search that I use for finding strikes in Brazil.

List of some the keywords that I search for daily:

  • Clashes
  • Attack
  • Protest
  • Strike
  • Killed
  • Explosion
  • Flooding
  • Fire
  • Demonstration
  • Strike
  • Kidnap
  • Injured

What the future holds

GDELT

As technology improves, more accurate and speedy event detection and analysis software is emerging. Within the field of machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) there are exciting developments that have the potential to change how we collect and analyse news events.

One tool that journalists are already using is social media analysis software that extrapolates meaningful patterns from user-generated content. This software then alerts journalists to potential breaking news automatically. A great example of this type of software is Dataminr, a New York-based company that has a strategic partnership with Twitter, which allows for analysis of the full Twitter Firehose of public tweets (basically all tweets).

Then there are emerging machine-coded automated data gathering methods that “crawl” through all open-source media and look for specific relevant events in real time. These can be used for forecasting human societal-scale behaviour,which is the long-term goal of programmes such as the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT). Also, there are programmes such as the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which attempts to create a full database of political violence data for developing states. Both these programmes offer real-time analysis and give a glimpse into the future of event detection.

Takeaways

Hopefully you’ve learned some new tricks of the trade for finding relevant breaking news as fast and accurately as possible. However, finding the news is only the first step. The next step is analysing the data, and if you are looking for more guidelines on intelligence analysis, there are some insightful books that every analyst should read.

A final tip for finding breaking news is to embrace change. There are always better, faster and more accurate tools emerging for catching breaking events. If you learn to love change and can keep up with the development of technology, you’re on your way to thinking like an intelligence analyst!


What has been your experience with finding Breaking News? Are there some tactics you’re using besides the ones mentioned here? I’d be interested to hear your experiences and what you’re up to. Please do share in the comments.

Article by Barend Lutz, follow him @LutzBarend

Tagged , , , , ,

Read before you think

Five books every intelligence analyst should read

a-tradecraft-primer-structured-analytic-techniques-for-improving-paperback-cover-art

A Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis – US Government

This is a great first choice for those interested in improving their analytical techniques. The primer is short enough to read in one session and easy enough to grasp for those new to the practice of forecasting and predicting. According to the CIA, the document ‘highlights how structured analytic techniques can help one challenge judgments, identify mental mindsets, stimulate creativity, and manage uncertainty’.

You can download the Primer, for free, here.

the_signal_and_the_noise

The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver

‘The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.’ Those who follow baseball or US elections will be familiar with Silver, for he is well known for his accurate predictions in both fields. His book is less a story about his meteoric rise to statistician extraordinaire as it is a guide on how to approach forecasting and predicting in an age where, he states, our brains cannot adequately process the amount of information that is out there. In doing so, he draws on the techniques of others and incorporates interesting case studies.

Incidentally, Silver is currently putting together a team at FiveThirtyEight.com that will apply statistical analysis and other quantitative methods toward a range of issues that are making the news. If you can’t wait until the launch of this site (which is apparently imminent) and need your ‘Silver fix’, listen to him talk about the themes in his book here.

Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman, a psychologist, is regarded as one of the most influential human behavioural scientists. Oh, and he’s won a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences too. In this book, Kahneman looks at two distinct ways in which we think; the first is the fast, intuitive and emotional way and the second is the slow, deliberate and logical approach; we use both on a daily basis. Like Silver, Kahneman incorporates the theories of others, as he delves into both ‘systems’ of thinking and their associated shortfalls, which include (and this is important for intelligence analysts) cognitive biases.

Won’t get a chance to read the book anytime soon? Listen to Kahneman talk about his ideas in a video lecture here.

Black Swan

The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A black swan is an event that is deemed unlikely, but that has enormous consequences. In this eponymously titled book, Taleb shows how black swan events have shaped the world. He argues that we analyse black swans retrospectively, as we cannot accurately forecast them (for this reason, black swans do not sit well with intelligence analysts). No doubt submitting to a demand, Taleb also addresses avenues for exploiting these game-changers.

Taleb discusses the theme of his book here.

siegel-book-cover2

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die – Eric Siegel

Siegel takes on the subject of data mining. He looks at the ways big data is currently being used by a variety of organisations, including larger corporate retailers and governments, to explain and influence human behaviour. There are still, however, messages for intelligence analysts, relating to assumptions and how to use big data in one’s own research for forecasting purposes.

The author (and his book & regular conferences) has a website.

Article by Nick Piper, follow him @AmericasRisk

Editor – Francis Harrison

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Optimising Twitter for Political and Security Risk Analysis

Gathering and managing relevant and up-to-date information is one of the key competencies needed in political/security risk analysis. With the advent of social media sites such as Twitter, the collection and management of information is becoming easier by the day. How to optimise your Twitter usage for gathering relevant breaking news is described below. This can be used for risk analysis purposes or any other job in which up-to-date global, regional or local news is required.

images

I have chosen to use HootSuite as a platform for managing my social media sites, but there are many other choices such as TweetDeckSeesmic, etc.

MY PROCESS FOR USING HOOTSUITE TO MANAGE TWEETS

  1. Sign up for account at http://hootsuite.com
  2. Add you Twitter account and or other social media accounts to Hootsuite
  3. Go to these Twitter account’s lists: @LutzBarend & @BarendLutz 
  4. Subscribe to the lists you want (you can also look for other interesting lists)
  5. Go to you Hootsuite Dashboard and add streams for the lists you want to follow

* You can create your own lists or find other lists that are more specific to your interests online. My lists are just broad lists that I have created by looking at what other people are following on Twitter, but they will be updated as I find more useful tweeps.

* If you are still unsure about this process you can look at this presentation for further clarification.

Hootsuite

The final product will look something like this.

OTHER USEFUL TOOLS.

In addition to Hootsuite there are a number of other sources that make online data more manageable:

1.     TwitterMap

You search for keywords and it shows you where tweets containing those words come form on a map. (Search for words such as fatalities, clashes, protests, strikes)

2.     TrendsMap

This site shows you a global map of trending topics. I think it provides a bit too much information, so the one above might be more useful.

3.     Alchemy API

Lastly there is a demo program which analyses news articles and extracts the useful info. This is just a demo, but you can add a web link and then it extracts all the details automatically.  For example try adding this link: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/60398/World/Region/Iraq-attacks-kill-seven,-inmate-detonates-explosiv.aspx

I am sure that everyone has a specific methodology which they prefer for viewing and collecting information. I have found that the method described above works well for me, but if you have another method or comments/advice on mine, please feel free to let me know.

Article by Barend Lutz – Political Risk Analyst | Digital Media Specialist at red24

Tagged , , , , ,