WRAM - We dedicate our hearts,minds and bodies to protecting our great Republic!
The following is a discussion on using the social network media; "Facebook", "Twitter" and other blogs in inform Americans of potential risks which help develop what the Department of Homeland Security calls "resiliency" amongst members of the general population. While WRAM is a great site for interaction between like-minded members, handing over to government direct access has its dowfalls and shortcomings.
TECHOLOGICAL VULNERABILITIES AND RISKS
IN USING THE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HOMELAND SECURITY
There are many benefits to incorporating the social media with governmental agencies; this is so because the implimentation of Web 2.0 technology in to the most government offices, we can ask, suggest, and essentially shape the outcome of government activities (e-mail our representatives or other agencies).
However, in the case of protecting our homeland from natural or man-made disasters; there are simply too many technological vulnerabilities and weak points. There are, as we shall discuss, a number of pitfalls that currently hinder the use of social media as a form of communicating with our government agencies, especially in times of crisis.
In this discussion, I will raise concerns about making more use of social media than is currently available.
The areas of concern are as follows: Lack of funding for any type of broad, federally managed program, physical and structural framework vulnerabilities (earthquakes, nuclear explosions, etc…); confidentiality, and constitutional questions about information gathering and sharing; cyber-attacks, not only from within this country, but from the People’s Republic of China, or their unofficial representatives because the threat of cyber-attack is real, according to an unclassified report I’ll be using for reference.
There are many other concerns; such as filtering out reliable and credible sources of information, the creation of “imposters” who initiate social media collection notices for – if not for criminal activity, but for private sector market studies – governmental social media programs and applications.
I would also like to discuss and endorse increasing regional “fusion centers” to collect terrorist related information, rather than social media networks submitting collected information straight to both, a fusion center, and the nation’s capital for continuity reasons, and of course I hope we discuss the continued efforts to enhance cyber security technology.
LACK OF PROPER (OR ADEQUATE) FUNDING
First and foremost in any discussion about government intervention is the state of our economy and the loss of middle class earnings that used to drive this nation. Massive cuts – not increases – are on the plate of every government agency nationwide.
Despite this downfall, President Obama issued “Presidential Policy Directive – 8/ PPD-8” (Directive, 2011) on March 30, 2011, calling for the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security to begin a huge process in national preparedness and resiliency, and to have DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano revamp a “national planning framework” to “include guidance to support corresponding planning for State, local, tribal, and territorial governments.”
Recall the original PPD-8 issued under former President Bush in 2003 was in the midst of uncertainty and he wanted the new DHS to have all available resources at DHS and their sub-agencies disposal. Under the current Directive, under “Definitions”; definition “(f)” discusses “Mitigation” in part, as follows:
“Mitigation capabilities include, but are not limited to, community-wide
risk reduction projects; efforts to improve the resilience of critical
infrastructure and key resource lifelines; risk reduction for specific
vulnerabilities from natural hazards or acts of terrorism; and initiatives to
reduce future risks after a disaster has occurred.”
Social network analysis began several months ago but is not mentioned directly, in fact,
communications and networking between government agencies and the general population is notably absent.
While the new PPD-8 opens the door for perhaps, further research or exploration in to making social media one of the many preventative (developing information on terrorist activities or “patterns”) enhancements, the costs to hire, train, and employ the sheer number of people needed to collect and decipher data – not only on a national level, but on a global level - would be overwhelming. DHS received cuts to its funding account request for fiscal 2011and one of these areas will be in science and technology.
Recently an expert in the litigation field was worried about the Justice Information Sharing Technology (JIST) account, which will receive much less than requested in 2010. (McKenna, 2011)
Since social media networks could arguably share directly or indirectly with the Department of Justice who oversee JIST, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation there’s no money for hiring especially if there's hardly funding for research and development.
VULNERABILITIES AND RISKS TO PHYSICAL FRAMEWORK,
SATURATION AND INCREASED BURDENS IN DATA COLLECTON (STORAGE)
I did not research anything specifically related to a direct attack upon an internet facility or structure because we have not had one yet, but it does bear mentioning that as long as we are dependent upon the airwaves and structural frameworks to facilitate the transmission of these signals, a strong earthquake, an explosion to knock down towers, or in the event of a nuclear blast; radioactive fallout will scramble broadband frequencies and signals for many square miles (and for many hours or days afterward) .
In some recent studies saw little or no research and technology necessary for a system that would not “scramble” in the midst of radioactive fallout following a nuclear blast. How do you test a system that has never had devastating potential consequences to our airways and transmissions lines?
The issue of “oversaturation and congestion” of social media networks and wireless capabilities came up during a recent lecture at CTU On-line when Professor Mickler talked briefly about “over-saturation” hurdles and the recovery efforts (and extra time required) to jumpstart systems while fighting off the back up of traffic that will occur in
the event of a major disaster. Even headline news items have arguably disrupted other broadcast and transmissions.
The social network audience, if transmissions are slow, might divert their attention to more “dependable”, potentially less saturated norms like CNN, Fox, and other television or radio networks for more “news and updates” in the midst of a crisis. (Mickler, Risk and Challenges to Using Social Media, 2011)
There are always conflicting “crisis”, perhaps the first example was the Muslim Chinese “Uyghur Movement” which began in June 2009. Professor Mickler said the movement was getting the world’s attention via the Twitter messaging, but suddenly, the uprising all but stalled… A more urgent matter had new priority over any “uprising” in some fall off land like Tibet. After the Uyghur population began to have hope, a man by the name of Michael Jackson suddenly died, and the entire social network media “system” became over-saturated, and the recovery apparently took weeks as millions stayed glued to their electronics.
The nexus between the Uyghur Movement and Michael Jackson’s death is a great example of why social networks would be unreliable. An earthquake could occur in California, but if a lethal biological (infectious) virus is reported – even in another part of the same general region – people, including government management will only “hope” to reach victims through social networks.
The question of “priorities” and “available resources” will lay a heavy burden on current technologies. During the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, the local wireless system slowed considerably due to the heavy loads of calls; slowing connectivity.
In the data storage category of concerns, let’s just assume for a moment that foreign terrorist organizations strike again, and suddenly, hundreds of thousands of Americans are willing to share their information in the interest of national security and homeland
defense and protection – using social networks, this still begs the question of where to store the data presents the next challenge.
Data collection technology experts Paul Taylor, Ph.D. and John Miri with the “Center for Digital Government” published a web page article in which they said a study was conducted by RDC Research, and the study concluded computer users worldwide, will produce 1,800 Exabytes of digital information by the end of 2011. (One Exabyte is equal to all the information held in the Library of Congress x 100,000!) The combined total of digital data produced before 2010 totaled 12 Exabytes.
Never before has government and private business had “so much data, resting in so many places, protected by so few countermeasures.”
ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES BETWEEN LOCAL AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
So up to this point we have covered a number of acute vulnerabilities and risks. Coupled with the economic slowdown nationwide, the results of another recent journal study “Web is the King of Hearts” – asked some of the nation’s Chief Information Officers (CIO) in municipal government to prioritize their “top forty technological needs” and where these CIO’s would allocate funds for new technologies systems and software. While “cyber security” was rated second in importance, “disaster recovery” ranked 8th, and wireless technology ranked 20th. These information officers reported “budget constraints” as part of the criteria for balancing their individual municipal
entity technological needs. (Center for Digital Government, 2011)
Regardless of whether or not State, regional, local or tribal governments allocate substantial time and resources to developing new technologies to fight in the war on terror, the fact is that a vast majority of local and regional government agencies and municipalities already have Web 2.0 social media network sites available to their
constituents. Reaching out to government has suddenly become so much more convenient, and each day we will be bringing homeland security matters to the hands of the public.
METHODS OF GATHERING AND SHARING PERSONAL
INFORMATON CHALLENGES IN PRIVACY, CONSTITUTIONAL AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
During our recent class lecture, Professor Mickler spent a considerable amount of time on collection of personal data, and how easily such data can not only be sold to third parties, but that civil rights advocates would have a field day arguing client cases if such information fell into the cyber-files of the Department of Justice or Federal Bureau of Investigation for prosecution in any unrelated matter.
The June 2010 “Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Compliance Verification for the Intelligence Enterprise” initiative (Initiative, 2010), which is specifically designed for the fusion centers, provides a vast amount of information collection and protocol, along with a list of procedures to follow and training seminars to attend prior to being granted authority to move in to an information gathering position. Social network media sites such as Facebook and Twitter collect and integrate personal data and information from their users, and store it for sale. Customers may not only be reluctant to share or to allow federal government agencies linked to DHS to collect and assimilate such personal
information; most of us would be enraged!
So the likelihood of social networks losing – not only their customers, but becoming involved in protracted litigation - is high, if not certain. Networks in my opinion, are suited for non-terrorist related information gathering and more in-line with offering help and direction after a disaster, like the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – to be addressed shortly.
Again, Washington, D.C. should not be in business with the federal government in collection customer information and handing it over for study and research. It would seem the local, regional, or state governments are the only appropriate means of using social network media for the prevention or disruption of terrorist activities; even then, it’s up to the public if, or how much they wish to become involved.
Relationships are not built overnight, and human intelligence is more dependable and accurate than culling through millions of bits of information coming in daily from a number of networks hosting millions upon millions of subscribers. One would have to consider that social media for terrorist detection would be better reported first to local authorities or fusion centers.
I’d like to sum up by quickly returning to the issue of threats and attacks initiated to cause damages to critical infrastructure and the problems with data and transmission repair and recovery.
CYBERSPACE ATTACKS AND CYBER-RELATED ECONOMIC WARFARE
The Wall Street Journal very recently published an article entitled: “Mobile Devices and Social Networks; Key Malware Targets” (April 5, 2011). The article indicated that according to statistics collected by Symatec, the world’s leading malware detection and
eradication software company, there were over 3.1 billion computer attacks committed last year alone, with approximately 286 million “malware types”, a 93% increase from 2010! (Rooney, 2011)
If that weren’t enough, consider that one of the more deadly “geinimi trojan” was seen mainly on sites in China, allowing hackers to send SMS messages, to make calls, reveal the location of the phone, and even change the wall paper on the phone. Which leads to the final concern of allowing the social media networks to play anything more than
a forum for government to allow access, rather than collect data: The People’s Republic of China – while not consistently or directly related to a series of cyber-attacks since 1999 – continues to engage in an economic war with the world in general; and with the United States specifically.
The “US-China Economic and Security Review Commission” received a comprehensive 88 page report from Northrup/Grumman in 2009 entitled: “Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation" (Krekel, Bakos, & Barnett, 2009) and upon review of this chronology of events, since 1999, it appears the Chinese government has been behind (or supporting) over 140 attempts at cracking in to systems, their people are stationed or based out of the Chinese provinces. The way they attempt to get in to government and business data bases; sending social media e-mail or social media network related invitations.
SOCIAL NETWORKING AND HOMELAND SECURITY
SUCCESS IN THE GULF OIL SPILL
All one must do to get an idea of just how far social media networking has come is to go on Facebook for example; type in one of any of the words or phrases related to the BP Gulf Oil disaster and a number of applications will appear. Each will provide clear cut
directions on what is (was) going on, how to get a job with clean-up, where to file an injury or damage claim and who to send communications to as they relate to the destinations listed.
The same holds (held) true for the earthquake in Haiti, the devastation recently in Japan, and even with information on what initiatives are being undertaken as they relate to the border and terrorist threats coming in from Mexico and South America.
While the White House and Department of Homeland Security have recently been doing masterful jobs in keeping the public informed on events like the BP Gulf Oil spill, I do not think crediting the entire social media network for bringing as sense of unity with government would be appropriate.
The gulf oil spill was man-made, so-to-speak; it developed over time - before damages became a certainty – once the drilling rig could not be capped. There was time to prepare, time to strategize, and because this disaster was man-made – or better – caused by human error (negligence is the key word…) there was a ton of commercial liability policy money to be paid out - to those who had suffered injuries or damages. (British Petroleum paid $400 million in damages, and those victims were referred quickly to calm their nerves at least had a place where they could get their damages investigated and evaluated.)
Prompt and interactive access to government certainly was a huge victory in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, if government perceives the success (or claimed success) in the Gulf can and should be applied to other events – acts of terrorism, floods, earthquakes, huge explosions or biological/chemical outbreaks – I submit they consider timing (or lack of…), money (or lack of when it comes to terrorist acts…); that just because social media was effective and generally successful application by the Department of Homeland Security in handling the Gulf Oil Spill; a line must be drawn between a natural or man-made disasters.
In my opinion, DHS and the use of Web 2.0 social network media will only find harmony with the taxpayer when the certainty of two resources are available during any catastrophe: “Substantial time, and substantial money….”
Terrorists, computer hackers and hardened criminals do not have a set of rules by which to go, nor are they likely to appear on social networks; sending out “Tweets”, or offering up truthful information while “chatting” or posting photos or travel plans on Facebook.
Too bad Good Ol’ “Mother Nature” isn’t able to Tweet “U.S.” before she unleashes an earthquake or Tsunami…