A 2018 report by the United Nations
Office of Counter-Terrorism outlined the most intuitive physical threats to
critical infrastructure, including the energy sector, involved the use of
explosives or incendiary devices, rockets, MANPADs, grenades and tools to
That same report noted that the energy sector has witnessed sustained terrorist activity through attacks perpetrated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates on oil companies’ facilities and personnel in Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Increasing Intensity of DDoS Attacks
In addition to physical threats, it is estimated that by 2020, at least five countries will see foreign hackers take all or part of their national energy grid offline through Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS) attacks. And, DDoS attacks like those in the Ukraine are becoming increasingly severe. Studies show that the number of total DDoS attacks decreased by 18 percent year-over-year in Q2 2017. At the same time, there was a 19 percent increase in the average number of attacks per target.
U.S. is the “Holy Grail”
of the U.S. power grid is considered the “holygrail,” and experts predict that the
energy industry could be an early battleground, not only the power sector, but
the nation’s pipelines and the entirety of the supply chain.
In fact, last year the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) publicly accused the Russians of cyberattacks on small utility companies in the United States. In a joint Technical Alert (TA), the agencies said Russian hackers conducted spear phishing attacks and staged malware in the control rooms with the goal of gathering data to create detrimental harm to critical U.S. infrastructure.
900 “Vulnerabilities” Found in the
U.S. Energy Systems
This specific incident aside, DHS’s Industrial Control System Computer Emergency Response Team found nearly 900 cyber security vulnerabilities in U.S. energy control systems between 2011 and 2015, more than any other industry. It’s not surprising that the international oil sector alone is expected to increase investments on cyber defenses by $1.9 billion this year.
Investment in Physical Security Will Reach $920 billion
With any disruption to the global or national energy supply having serious implications for virtually all industries, especially critical ones like healthcare, transportation, security, and financial services, one report projects that the global critical infrastructure protection market will be worth $118 billion by 2028.
Physical security is expected to account for the highest proportion of spending, and cumulatively will account for $920 billion in investment.
Artificial Intelligence: A Security “Pathway” for the Future
Experts suggest that these investments should include next generation technologies for both physical and cyber security purposes. As one expert put it: “Automation, including via artificial intelligence, is an emerging and future cyber security pathway.”
In addition to the role that automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning can bring to identifying and predicting a physical or cyber attack, research shows that it can also help manage the rising costs associated with it. A study found that only 38 percent of companies are investing in this technology – even though after initial investments, it could represent net saving of $2.09 million.
Learn more about AI-driven Radiance and how it can help identify and predict physical and cyber threats to the energy infrastructure.
In July, Florida resident Tayyab Tahir Ismail was
sentenced to 20 years in prison for distributing information pertaining to explosives
According to a press release issued by the FBI, Tahir posted bomb making instructions on the Internet, and on a social media platform. His goal was for that information to be used to create a weapon of mass destruction in support of violent jihad.
Social Media, IoT, Attack Planning and Radicalization
Use of the Internet and social media to propagate radical views, share information related to a terror attack or plan for an attack is well documented.
Research of terrorist activity in Syria and Iraq in 2014 noted the use of a variety of social media platforms, with Twitter as the most popular channel. In a three-month period, 59 Twitter accounts of Western fighters in Syria alone had produced a total of 154,119 tweets, with the average account posting 2,612 times; and
In a December 2018 report on National Security, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that “terrorists could…increase their use of online communications to reach new recruits and disseminate propaganda.”
Technology as a Double-Edged Sword
GAO’s findings echoed those of a report just one year earlier from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which noted that technology “will be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it will facilitate terrorist communications, recruitment, logistics, and lethality. On the other, it will provide authorities with more sophisticated techniques to identify and characterize threats….”
The RAND Corporation furthers this analysis of technology’s role in prevention activities, finding that early phase terrorism prevention activities should include monitoring online content advocating violence, and messaging to encourage communities to identify radicalized individuals for intervention.
United Nations: Internet Can Aid in Counter-Terrorism
Against this backdrop, the United Nations recently found that the significant amount of knowledge about terrorist organizations activities on the Internet can aid in counter-terrorism efforts, and that new technologies are helping proactively prevent, detect and deter terrorist attacks.
AI and machine learning are technologies that continue to take center stage in the identification of online threats and prevention of catastrophic events, whether it’s from Islamic or right-wing extremists.
AI Can Help Assess Threats and Enhance Situational Awareness
In fact when it comes to enhancing situational awareness (SA), and better detecting and discerning real attacks from false alarms, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) noted that “AI applications for all-source data fusion, front-line analysis, and predictive analytics promise the potential to unlock new insights and effectively enhance strategic SA.”
That’s exactly where technologies like Lumina’s Radiance platform come into play. Radiance’s Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT) includes more than 6,500 terms related to potential national security risks and threats. The platform conducts nearly 135,000 searches across all publicly-available data on the web, correlating names with these terms and cross-referencing over 1 million queries into Lumina’s proprietary databases of risk. A search of this magnitude – done manually – would take more than a year to complete.
As the summer draws to a close and students return to campus, schools across the country are incorporating active shooter response training into their procedures and protocols. The drills are just one component of overall safety preparedness efforts, being undertaken at the state, federal and local levels.
STRONG Ohio Plan Includes Social Media Scans
While response trainings on school campuses have become an increasingly common practice, the focus is even more pronounced in light of the recent mass shooting attacks in Dayton and El Paso.
In response to the shootings in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine unveiled his STRONG Ohio plan, designed to reduce gun violence. The state created a School Safety Center, which will review school emergency management plans and offer risk threat and safety assessments, consolidate school safety resources on saferschools.ohio.gov, promote the use of a tip line to anonymously report suspected threats and scan social media and websites to identify people suggesting acts of violence.
Increased Arrests for Threatening Comments
Increased precautions aren’t just being taken at schools, and for good reason. Following those tragic events, the FBI ordered a new threat assessment to thwart future mass attacks in the country.
Be Prepared: Take notice of surroundings and identify potential emergency exits. Be aware of unusual behaviors and report suspicious activities to security or law enforcement.
Take Action: If an attack occurs, run to the nearest exit and conceal yourself while moving away from the dangerous activity. If you can’t exit to a secure area, protect yourself by seeking cover.
Assist and React: Call 9-1-1, remain alert and stay aware of the situation. Help with first aid when it is safe, and follow instructions once law enforcement arrives.
Part of your preparation can include downloading for free Lumina’s See Something Say Something app. It’s a crowd-sourced, mobile application that allows users to confidentially report concerns in real time.
You can learn more about S4 and download it here. It’s one part of our comprehensive, AI-driven risk management platform, Radiance.
The rationale behind these efforts was straightforward. Recent attacks around the globe demonstrate the role social media and the Internet can play in helping people become radicalized, research and plan for mass violence, and as was the case of Christchurch, incite extremism by distributing images from an attack.
While the Internet has become a platform for extremists, it also provides opportunities to prevent and counter acts of terrorism. A United Nations report on The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes, found that a significant amount of knowledge about the activities of terrorist organizations can be found on the Internet, aiding in counter-terrorism efforts. Importantly, the report went on to say that increasingly sophisticated technologies are helping proactively prevent, detect and deter terrorist activity involving use of the Internet.
The reasons behind mass shootings around the globe are multi-faceted, but not unsolvable.
And, while we agree with the critics that existing social media listening technologies are not adequate, we know that our AI-driven Radiance platform is.
Radiance’s key differentiator is that it brings power of Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT), Internet Intelligence (NET-INT) and our See Something Say Something app (HUM-INT) for edge-to-edge risk detection. Radiance scours the web prioritizing current behaviors to predict future action.
We can find the needle in the haystack (quickly)
Our OS-INT component finds that needle in the haystack because it is continuously ingesting all open source data and filtering out all the “noise” with our proprietary behavioral affinity models (BAMs). These filters measure the data against terms and phrases associated with violent extremism, lone wolf attacks and other threats to global security.
It’s not what’s been posted. It’s what’s been read
What a person is reading on the Internet is exponentially more valuable in predicting future behavior than what they may post or react to online. NET-INT hunts the web, identifying, cataloguing and continuously monitoring IP addresses researching a full spectrum of risk-related content.
A 360-degree view
Other risk reporting apps operate in a vacuum. Information is sent to the authorities without context or insight. By integrating our See Something Say Something app with our OS-INT and NET-INT components, Radiance provides much clearer insights and more actionable intelligence to respond to the reported threat.
As these changes move forward, implementing artificial
intelligence and machine learning technologies can also help reduce wait times
and increase the effectiveness of security screening.
In fact, experts suggest that AI and big data analytics can move
the screening process from the current single point in time analysis to a 360-degree
view of a person’s behavior over a broader time range by linking
data sets to identify risky behavior even before a potential bad actor gets to
This thinking is in line with the recommendations from the
White House’s 2018
National Strategy for Aviation Security (NSAS). NSAS highlighted the importance of
strengthening aviation domain awareness through integration of open-source data
into existing air surveillance and law enforcement intelligence, collection and
analysis of advanced and anticipatory information, and layered and risk-based security
The International Air Transport Association is also working on a program to facilitate the exchange of critical security data. According to the Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, “This is similar to the way that our safety colleagues work with data to do predictive risk analysis. This tool will provide early detection of changes to security environments in different parts of the world, so we can effectively deal with emerging threats and the impacts of changes to security procedures.”
The Role of AI
AI-driven technologies, like Lumina’s Radiance platform are another facet to the solutions being implemented in the U.S. and globally.
Radiance has the ability to comprehensively mine
unstructured data sources, whether across the open web, or among disparate,
legacy data systems. It ingests, integrates and analyzes those data sets,
searching against more than 6,500 terms related to aviation security.
The platform conducts nearly 135,000 searches across all
publicly-available data on the web, correlating names with these associated
risk behaviors and cross-referencing over 1 million queries into Lumina’s
proprietary databases of risk.
Then add to this open source search internal data sets such as passenger bookings and travel history – or in the case of insider-threats, employee-related data – and airline and airport security experts have an important tool to help predict and prevent threats.
To be sure, integrating AI driven technologies like Radiance
are not a thing of the far of future. Research shows that 66%
of airlines and 79% of airports plan to implement these capabilities
across a wide variety of use cases by 2021. In fact, AI in aviation was valued
million in 2018 and expected to increase to
$2.2 billion by 2025. And,
passengers are ready for these technologies to help expedite their time at airport security and make their travel more
seamless. An online poll of UK passengers found that 68
percent of respondents would welcome AI at airports, and another study
percent would share additional personal information to speed up
processing at the airport.
Learn more about Radiance’s capabilities for the airline
Late last month, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order transferring responsibility for security clearance screening
from the Office of Management and Budget to the Defense Department.
The Administration had previously called the clearance process a target for government reform, noting in 2018 that “background investigations are critical to enabling national security missions and ensuring public trust in the workforce across the Government.”
The Administration’s efforts are part of an ongoing focus on
reforming the clearance process, and reducing the existing backlog.
That is because the current backlog peaked at 725,000 open investigations in 2018, with some Americans waiting more than 500 days just to start their first day at work. As part of these efforts, the Federal Government hired 2,500 additional investigators in 2018 to address the backlog.
The legislation calls for a major overhaul of the system.
It also sets targets to reduce the backlog to 200,000 by the end of 2020, and shorten the time required to issue a secret level clearance to 30 days or fewer and top secret level clearance to 90 days.
The legislation also establishes the “clearance in person” or “one-clearance” concept. This would enable – within two weeks or fewer – clearances to follow employees who change agencies.
Similarly, the legislation calls for continuous evaluation. It would move from the existing periodic reviews, to dynamic and ongoing reviews in the future.
In many ways, these recommendations represent a complete re-thinking of the security clearance process.
As Senator Warner notes in his legislation, technologies will play a critical role in preventing, detecting and monitoring threats. He also notes the role data integration and analytics can play in expediting or focusing re-investigations through delta reporting and continuous evaluation.
An Antiquated System
As many security experts have pointed out, the current system is not only time consuming and slow, it is also out of sync with how people live today. For example, as it currently works, a field investigator is assigned to confirm information from the applicant’s form, and to make sure that individual does not represent a threat to national security.
These determinations are based on the 13 adjudicative guideline criteria, which among others include, financial considerations, foreign preference and influence, alcohol consumption, and drug involvement.
To be sure, 50 years ago, interviews with neighbors, colleagues and other associates could help provide meaningful insights into our lives and habits. But today, we share these very same insights publicly, willingly and knowingly across a variety of online platforms, making the Internet a useful, but largely untapped resource.
Challenges to Reform
In fact, according to Gary Reid, Director of Defense Intelligence patterns of life, including scans of
one day be considered.
A significant challenge is the volume of data on the
With more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created on the Internet every day, searching for relevant content can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
The role of AI and Machine Learning
One way to solve for this is through machine learning and AI capabilities – a super-charged web search, allowing for all that publicly available, open-source data to be searched for risk behaviors – in this case, associated with the 13 established adjudicative guidelines.
But rather than having to weed through thousands of pages of
search results, these technologies can quickly synthesize the data and cull out
high priority risks associated with guideline selectors.
As a result, analysts receive the most critical data first, helping streamline their search process and gather the most relevant information.
Call it the Radiance Solution
Lumina’s AI-powered Radiance technology is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of massive unstructured data ingestion, evaluation, and prioritization. This provides a rapidly deployable, scalable and user-friendly solution for the security clearance process.
The technology is comprised of three modules, for
edge-to-edge risk detection.
Radiance Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT)
OS-INT is a deep-web listening tool that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess and prioritize risk. OS-INT scours publicly available data across the entire Internet, correlating names entered into the system with content related to its exclusive behavioral risk profiles (BRPS). It then cross-references that information with more than one million queries into Lumina’s proprietary databases of risk. And, unlike social media monitoring, OS-INT is not reliant on a single platform or social media API, allowing for continuous ingestion of all open source data.
OS-INT’s security clearance bundle includes more than 16,220 terms related to the adjudicative guidelines. OS-INT performs nearly 325,000 searches across the entire web. It then correlates names with associated risk behaviors. Similar results would take an individual running a manual web query more than 18 years to read and analyze.
OS-INT completes searches in an average of 4-5 minutes, providing prioritized, high resolution, and actionable results. In addition, the system allows for continuous monitoring and evaluation, mapping previous results against results from more recent queries.
The configuration of BRPs only collects publicly available information, within the scope of the investigation. And, it does not use account creation or digital interaction with a person of interest. As a result, the collection of information adheres to Security Executive Agent Directive 5 guidelines.
Radiance Internet Intelligence (NET-INT)
NET-INT’s proprietary algorithms continuously identify, monitor, capture, and prioritize IP addresses exhibiting anomalous behavior across multiple risk dimensions. In addition, its massive system of data ingestion has the capability to catalogue, index and redeploy Internet content related associated with the adjudicative guidelines.
The system captures an IP addresses’ pattern of life data,
prioritizing anomalous behavior. NET-INT also screens IP addresses
associated with an entity or person of interest against all IP addresses
displaying anomalous behavior collected over the system’s lifespan.
NET-INT’s continuous monitoring of a POI’s Internet research behavior then helps predict emergent behavior indicative of a violation of the guidelines.
Radiance Human Intelligence (HUM-INT)
HUM-INT is powered by the S4 app, a crowd-sourced, mobile application that allows users to confidentially report concerns in real time. The S4 app can be configured as a workplace tool, allowing employees to submit information related to potential risk behaviors exhibited by co-workers. A centralized management portal allows clients to access real-time threats to geo-fenced facility locations.
The Way Forward
As Washington continues its efforts to reduce the security backlog, and modernize the existing process, machine learning and artificial intelligence will play an important role.
Senator Warner recently said, “There is much more we can do to reform decades-old policies and processes to reflect today’s threat environment, adapt to the dynamic of a modern mobile workforce, and capitalize on opportunities offered by modern information technology.”