FeaturedBloomberg and Alleged Two Way Systems
Just a small thing, the Bloomberg privacy breach allegations. There are far weightier matters in search; for example, are evaluations and ratings of search vendors objective? Someone on the LinkedIn Enterprise Search Engine Professional Group even raised the possibility that vendors “pay” for coverage in some consultants’ evaluations of technology.
Well, on to the smaller thing which is labeled this way in the New York Times: “Privacy Breach on Bloomberg’s Data Terminals.” You can located the story in the May 11, 2013, edition of the newspaper. If you look online at http://goo.gl/oeMqA you may be able to view the news story. (Google, no promises because I know how you want every blog post to have continuously updated links, but that’s another issue.)
The main idea seems to have originated with a real journalism operation called The New York Post. This point appears in paragraph six, so it is definitely a subordinate point.
As I understand the allegation, Bloomberg tradition terminals had a function which allowed “journalists to monitor subscribers were promptly disabled.” I think that Bloomberg terminals generate some sort of report which allegedly allowed a journalist to determine if someone had used the terminal. The idea is that no use of a terminal suggests that the person has either moved on, lost his or her hands, or experienced an opportunity to find his / her future elsewhere.
How secure are secure systems. Image source: Sandia.gov at http://goo.gl/NaEBE. Modern methods for accessing digital information are difficult to depict. Paper is tangible. Digital data are just “out there.” Humans assume that if it cannot be seen, the problems associated with what’s “out there” are no big deal. Is this an informed viewpoint?
The Atlantic Wire covered the alleged breach in a story called “Why Billions Are at Stake in the Bloomberg Terminal Privacy Problem.” What I found interesting was that the Atlantic Wire pointed out that the breach allegedly allowed a journalist to determine the “news habits” of Bloomberg terminal users. Is this similar to the type of information which online services extract from users’ Web search histories?
InterviewsRobert Steele on Open Source Intelligence in 2013
Robert Steele has been a prescient thinking and actor in the intelligence sector for decades. In 1979 he was competitively selected to join the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service. He spent nine years with the CIA, doing three tours overseas as a case officer recruiting and handling agents. In 1986, helped write the Marine Corps Master Intelligence Plan (MCMIP) as well as a plan for a Marine Corps Intelligence Center (MCIC). In the last 30 years, Mr. Steele has worked on a wide range of projects around the world.
In the interview which appeared in HighGainBlog, he said:
For all the money we spend on it, the secret world is not really providing the return on investment taxpayers should expect. Intelligence – decision support – is simply not being provided to everyone that needs it.
His views on the relationship of intelligence to decision support caught my attention as well. He said:
intelligence helps to emphasize that intelligence is synonymous with decision-support – the output of a very robust process of requirements definition, collection management, source discovery and validation, multi-source fusion, historically- and culturally-informed analytics, and the sharp visualization that answers an important question for a particular decision-making considering a particular decision challenge. Few realize that most of what is produced by the secret world is not intelligence at all. Rather, it is secret information that is generic in nature and often not useful to decision-makers.
Mr. Steele’s views on open source software identifies a trend which has been accelerating in the last few years. Proprietary software has issues which have added a turbo charger to open source software adoption. He asserted:
Proprietary software is unsafe, does not scale, and is unaffordable. I have been unhappy with all vendors for the past 40 years because not a single one of them is committed to helping people make sense of information – they focus on trapping customers into using them as a core system, make promises they cannot keep, and then over-charge for configuration management and data conversion. I am also very concerned about Google’s computational mathematics and programmable search engines – I have a very high regard for Google’s expertise, and a very low regard for the government’s ability to understand now Google can manipulate search outcomes and other forms.
For those interested in intelligence activities, the new Robert Steele interview is a must read. You can find the Steele 2013 interview in HighGainBlog. Mr. Steele’s Public Intelligence blog is a valuable resource.
Stephen E Arnold, April 4, 2013
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