“November 5, 2011 – Anonymous hackers promise to destroy Facebook.” See Live Feed.
A headline and story this morning that caught my eye: Hackers Again Target Transit Police Union Site. The hacker group Anonymous again targeted a California transit agency that came under fire last week for turning off cell phone service in its stations to thwart a potential protest. Hackers gained access to the web site and posted personal information about more than 100 officers.
In addition, I recently heard that ‘lone wolf’ terrorists are the new pattern that try to avoid profiling and identification by acting alone and using social media to contact others and find the information they need like “how to build a bomb in your mother’s kitchen.”
So our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to be able to mine social media to find “needles-in-the-haystack” and “connect-the-dots” like we see on the popular TV shows like “Criminal Minds”.
I will be attending the LandWarNet Conference next week and the theme is “Transforming Cyber While At War.” So I asked my good friend, Chris Holden, Recorded Future Community Manager to provide me with a view into some of the prominent individuals and hacktivist organizations -and how emerging analytic tools like his that are tracking online commentary might be used to predict future events.
The result is shown above. It shows references to the organization Anonymous in the Recorded Future index published during the last six months with references to time points at some point during the rest of the year.
I have explained this Recorded Future visualization in a previous blog. It’s not surprising that Recorded Future is backed by the CIA and Google. Chris Holden provides additional insights in a post published on Huffington Post in June on Twitter Analysis As an Intelligence Tool in Libyan Engagement.
Because Chris also provided the actual data (7600 rows and 29 columns based on mining and extracting more than 25,000 Internet sources) for this visualization I was able to explore that data further.
For instance, it identifies the types of comments–which not surprisingly turn out to be blogs–but also the sources. Using a visualization method called treemaps, shown here, it’s possible to see for instance that PCMag.com, Yahoo News, the Kaspersky Lab Security Post, and VentureBeat are the leading sources of where this particular group of cyber threats appeared.
While it’s not always an easy matter of drawing meaningful conclusions from these visual tools, the ability to visualize them quickly is clearly an important step forward for analysts–and increasingly even executives who haven’t been traditionally trained in the art of data analytics.