How the CIA is Reinventing a Case for Big Data

December 16, 2015
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Big data is changing the way the world operates and 2015 is turning out to be a very big year for the Central Intelligence Agency. This organization is better known simply as the CIA and America’s liaison to the President for matters regarding national security at home and abroad. Launched in 1947 by President Harry S. Truman, the agency has grown to become a multi-faceted center for enhanced security through evolution and continued innovation.

New CIA Directorate Launches

Big data is changing the way the world operates and 2015 is turning out to be a very big year for the Central Intelligence Agency. This organization is better known simply as the CIA and America’s liaison to the President for matters regarding national security at home and abroad. Launched in 1947 by President Harry S. Truman, the agency has grown to become a multi-faceted center for enhanced security through evolution and continued innovation.

New CIA Directorate Launches

This month, for the first time since 1963, the CIA launched a new Directorate (a Directorate is a department operating under the CIA’s umbrella). This new Directorate is called the Directorate in Digital Innovation, or DDI.

The Directive to the Directorate

A Directive is the mission and goal of a Directorate. The DDI’s Directive is broken down into several parts. As an intra-agency department, the DDI will liaison with four other CIA Directorates, including the Directorate of Science & Technology, the Directorate of Support, the Directorate of Analysis and the Directorate of Operations.

Underneath these Directorates, there are also 10 new Mission Centers that are designed to infuse every aspect of CIA operations with the most powerful new digital, science, technology, support, analysis, operations and technology resources available with the goal to enhance efforts to safeguard national security into the far future.

The Mission and Goals

The Directorates and their Mission Centers are even now beginning to combine forces to modernize CIA operations, implement new technology, embrace the big data digital revolution and implement resource monitor tools for sysadmins. This will enhance talents and skills at all staff levels and create pathways for intelligence-gathering in the cyber-sphere as well as “on the ground,” so to speak.

CIA Deputy Director Andrew Hallman

The CIA’s Deputy Director, Andrew Hallman (the Deputy Director serves underneath the CIA Director), has the responsibility for overseeing and leading the new Directorate forward to meet its mission and goals.

One of Hallman’s most pressing initiatives is to find new ways for operatives to work undercover safely and effectively in an era where nearly every person has an easy way to share literally anything online in seconds. In examining how terrorist groups such as ISIS have used social media to advance their goals, recruit new members and distribute their agenda, it is clear that any future war on terror must be fought as heavily and as hard online as offline.

Network security, is of utmost importance during this time, as downed or rogue network protocols can wreck havoc on the masses. CIA sysadmins need to know the ins and outs of network performance, for obvious reasons. For that reason understanding network bandwidth usage is a key area of focus. This also helps agents understand opposing networks, which knowledge helps pro-hacking attacks to prevent data breaches. Educating operatives in hacking and sleuthing for the online environment will be a huge part of operating effectively in this medium.

Governance for Data

Another pressing initiative involves the CIA’s role as an advisor to the President and Congress. By developing its own deeper understanding of big data’s unique challenges and opportunities, the CIA will be better positioned to guide the nation in how to answer questions about data privacy, data security and data use. The fine line between personal privacy and national security has never appeared finer than at this time, and as such the data involved needs its own oversight and governance to achieve responsible use.

Anticipatory Intelligence: the Future of Big Data

The ultimate goal of the new Directorate, the collaboration between the Directorates, the 10 Missions and the greater efforts of the CIA as an organization is to provide what is called “Anticipatory Intelligence,” or the ability to interpret data to anticipate future events and, if needed, take action.

By developing and implementing techniques to continually analyze big data both domestically and abroad in an ongoing, systematic manner, the CIA will be able to position itself to protect the nation’s safety and interests in a proactive and effective way.