Surveillance: Looking Forward

May 28, 2021

I read “The Future of Communication Surveillance: Moving Beyond Lexicons.” The article explains that word lists and indexing are not enough. (There’s no mention of non text objects and icons with specific meanings upon which bad actors agree before including them in a text message.)

I noted this passage:

Advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and pre-trained models can better detect misconduct and pinpoint the types of risk that a business cares about. AI and ML should work alongside metadata filtering and lexicon alerting to remove irrelevant data and classify communications.

This sounds like cheerleading. The Snowden dump of classified material makes clear that smart software was on the radar of the individuals creating the information released to journalists. Subsequent announcements from policeware and intelware vendors have included references to artificial intelligence and its progeny as a routine component. It’s been years since the assertions in the Snowden documents became known and yet shipping cyber security solutions are not delivering.

The article includes this statement about AI:

Automatically learn over time by taking input from the team’s review of prior alerts

And what about this one? AI can

Adapt quickly to changing language to identify phrases you didn’t know you needed to look for

What the SolarWinds’ misstep revealed was:

  1. None of the smart cyber security systems noticed the incursion
  2. None of the smart real time monitoring systems detected repeated code changes and downstream malware within the compromised system
  3. None of the threat alert services sent a warning to users of compromised systems.

Yet we get this write up about the future of surveillance?

Incredible and disconnected from the real life performance of cyber security vendors’ systems.

Stephen E Arnold, May 28, 2021


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