June 2020

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The links below are organised by the month in which they are published


As most members know, AIPIO sponsors an annual prize for a high performing student in the Faculty of Law at QUT. The following testimonial from recipient Olivia is a powerful example of what our support means for students.

► Watch Olivia’s testimonial here: AIPIO support for students



Law, Politics and Intelligence: A Life of Robert Hope

NewSouth (University of NSW Press) has recently published Law, Politics and Intelligence: A Life of Robert Hope, the biography of Justice Robert Marsden Hope, who conducted the Royal Commissions into Australia’s intelligence agencies in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a protective security review. 

By the end of the third inquiry, he was seen as the ‘godfather’ of the intelligence community, and he, more than any other individual shaped the structures, legislation, and operational doctrines of the agencies for decades afterwards.

► Listen  ► Buy the book here


Inside the NSA’s Secret Tool for Mapping Your Social Network

Edward Snowden revealed the agency’s phone-record tracking program. But thanks to “precomputed contact chaining,” that database was much more powerful than anyone knew.

In the summer of 2013, I spent my days sifting through the most extensive archive of top-secret files that had ever reached the hands of an American journalist. In a spectacular act of transgression against the National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor, Edward Snowden had transmitted tens of thousands of classified documents to me, the columnist Glenn Greenwald, and the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. 

One of those documents, the first to be made public in June 2013, revealed that the NSA was tracking billions of telephone calls made by Americans inside the US. The program became notorious, but its full story has not been told.

► Read more at WIRED


135 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn't Know Google Could Do 

Take your Google game to the next level with these expert tips. You’ll get more out of Google once you know all of the advanced features. This resource covers tips waiting to be discovered, such as:

  • Google calendar advanced options

  • Unlocking productivity secrets in Google Sheets

  • Shortcuts and overlooked features of Chrome

  • Gmail settings to make your inbox more efficient

  • Google docs hacks

  • The best features of Google Maps

Take the time to learn these tips and watch your productivity skyrocket.

► Get your free e-book here


Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs

German by birth, British by naturalization, Communist by conviction, Klaus Fuchs was a fearless Nazi resister, a brilliant scientist, and an infamous spy. He was convicted of espionage by Britain in 1950 for handing over the designs of the plutonium bomb to the Russians, and has gone down in history as one of the most dangerous agents in American and British history. He put an end to America's nuclear hegemony and single-handedly heated up the Cold War. But, was Klaus Fuchs really evil?

Buy it here



2020 Hunt Challenge - Feedback and Review (The Hunt Laboratory for Intelligence Research, The University of Melbourne)

The Hunt 2020 Challenge was both a replication and an extension of the 2018 Challenge.

In both Challenges, teams from major organisations competed alongside teams recruited from the public.

As in 2018, public teams outperformed the organisational teams. But as in 2018, many factors could be at work here, including the larger size of public team sizes, and public team members being able to invest more time and effort. In 2020 these differences were exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation, which put extra pressure on many organisations.

Nevertheless, we think that one finding from 2018 has been confirmed: teams recruited via Facebook - particularly "superteams" - with minimal training can do high quality analytic work on intelligence-type problems.

► Read more HERE


8 Free Competitive Intelligence Tools You Can (and Should) Start Using Today

Competitive intelligence (CI) is the secret weapon of forward-thinking marketers and strategists seeking to accelerate growth. With the help of these free competitive intelligence tools, you can get in on the secret too.

Let's explore why deeper market intelligence, better competitor intelligence and a more comprehensive understanding of trends in your market need to be on your 2020 priority list.

► Read the reviews here


Here's What's New in Tangles

Cobwebs' latest version release of Tangles V6.18 includes advanced new tools and capabilities that will enable a safer, intuitive and advanced workflows to help you complete your investigations accurately and faster than ever before.

This new version includes new features, new sources and improvement of the analysis capabilities that enriches the provided toolset of Tangles.

In addition, a major infrastructure change was done in this release in order to improve sizing and scaling in Tangles in order to ease the digestion of large amount of data in the system. The infrastructure change tackles the main functionalities in the system, specifically the search and analysis features.

► View the launch presentation at Cobwebs



Mapping our COVID-19 recovery

SWARM technology has brought together the country’s leading experts from Australian universities to work on our recovery after COVID-19.

The pandemic lockdown of 2020 has changed work for many Australians. We Zoom all week without actually going anywhere, every day is a bring-your-kids-to-work day, and meetings mostly involve explaining where the mute button is.

More seriously, the changes run deep and will persist long after the lockdown.

► Read the full Pursuit article HERE


Can United States intelligence community analysts telework?

This article argues that United States Intelligence Community analysts can and should periodically telework as routine professional development and as a research supplement to traditional all-source intelligence analysis. We offer four key benefits to tapping into this reservoir of unclassified information that would improve the quality of the intelligence product, enable better liaison and academic exchange, and steward the profession. We conclude that an overdue rebalancing of classified and publicly available sources could be aided by telework, but only once analysts break free from ‘the cult of the SCIF’ will publicly available information receive the analytical attention that it deserves.

► Read more HERE


Collaborative reasoning in the age of Covid

Ever since the start of the pandemic, there have been no end of opinions, presentations and reports on how we might navigate our way out of the crisis. Much of this takes a narrow, discipline-centric view, which is inadequate because the problem is multifaceted and thus defies traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is therefore of urgent importance to chart a course that considers all aspects of recovery, not just those relevant to specific interests.  A recent report produced by the Australian Group of Eight does just that.

► Read more at Eight to Late HERE


Tradecraft to Standards—Moving Criminal Intelligence Practice to a Profession through the Development of a Criminal Intelligence Training and Development Continuum

Australian governments, academia, and law enforcement agencies have recognized the need to improve intelligence capabilities in order to adapt to the increasingly complex criminal and security environments. In response, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and other Australian policing agencies have adopted several reform measures to improve intelligence capability support. While some have focused on developing specific criminal intelligence doctrine, others have sought to improve more challenging aspects of intelligence capability such as analytical and field collection workforce planning. The complexity of the current and emerging criminal environment and a growing professionalization of policing practice more broadly has resulted in a uniquely new strategic approach to developing the analytical and field collection workforce.

► Read more in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice HERE


Modeling an Intelligence Analysis Profession on Medicine

For decades intelligence analysts have played a key role in national security decisionmaking of all kinds, and have increasingly been used by law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as by private industry. 

Yet, even with its rich history, intelligence analysis has historically been practiced more as a craft reliant on the intrinsic skill and expertise of the individual analysts than as a highly developed profession with structured personnel practices to select and develop desired characteristics, skills, and behaviors. 

► Read the full International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence article here


Why Chinese Artificial Intelligence will Run the World

If you’ve been paying attention in the past year, it seems that all anyone can talk about is the coming artificial intelligence boom on the horizon. 

Whether it’s the Amazon, Google, or Facebook, everyone seems to be getting in on the AI game as fast as they can. And with good reason—they’re having to play catchup with the rapid growth of artificial intelligence in China. The Rise of the BAT: Chinese Tech Giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. 

► Read the Interesting Engineering article here


The 32 Best Competitive Intelligence Companies

Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the collection and analysis of information to anticipate competitive activity, see past market disruptions and interpret events. It’s a key component of any business strategy. Competitive intelligence provides insight into marketplace dynamics and challenges using both published and non-published sources.

Competitive intelligence is research about your competitors that helps you with crucial insights to outperform them. When you research your competitors, you can find useful information to plan your business strategies effectively and help your business grow faster.

► Read the improvado article here


Generating Competitive Intelligence with Limited Information: A Case of the Multimedia Industry

Competitive intelligence is a critical component of developing and implementing organizational strategies. Although firms may obtain aggregate market‐level competitive information, resource allocation decisions such as inventory management or capacity planning are made at the individual product‐firm‐market level. 

Acquiring such disaggregated information about competitors across various products and markets poses significant challenges, including integrating data from different (and conflicting) information sources and updating the same continuously to reflect the changes in the market environment.

► Read the article here


How Do Hotels Operationalize Their Competitive Intelligence Efforts into Their Management Processes? Proposing a Holistic Model

The purpose of this study is to examine and develop a holistic competitive intelligence (CI) model that incorporates all CI efforts at the management level within an organization, including strategic, tactical, and operational levels. 

To achieve this goal, the researchers administered in-depth, semi-structured interviews with middle- level managers and supervisors in an independent, full-service hotel located in Hong Kong. The findings show that many hotel departments do not use formal and centralized CI practices in their daily operations. 

There is no formalized system for CI process management, which includes data collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination.

► Read the Science Direct article here


Demystifying modeling: How quantitative models can—and can’t—explain the world

One of the many impacts of the COVID-19 crisis has been to highlight the role of quantitative models in our lives. Ideas associated with modeling, such as flattening the curve of disease transmission, are now regularly discussed in the media and among families and friends. Across the globe, we are trying to understand the numbers and what they mean for us.

Forward-looking models aren’t new. They have long played an important but unseen role in day-to-day life—for instance, in pricing homeowners’ insurance, anticipating the weather, and deciding how many iPhones to manufacture. However, in the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale of impact and the level of uncertainty have introduced new challenges—and notoriety—for modelers.

► Read the full McKinsey & Company article


Using AI to prevent cybercrime targeting Smart Cities on the Darkweb

The growing capabilities of artificial intelligence have allowed for a growing spotlight on the dangers lurking on the dark web and have allowed authorities to track criminals and protect innocent civilians targeted by threat actors.

Beneath the surface of the internet used by everyday users, lies the deep dark web where criminal marketplaces thrive in the selling of illegal weapons, drugs, as well as credit card numbers, stolen credentials and software to hack into computers.

With an increased reliance on smart technology such as AI, law enforcement agencies have been working continuously to stop the malicious activities carried out by criminals who feel that they are safe behind a screen of anonymity.

► Read the Cobwebs article here


Conducting snap internal risk mapping in the face of a major money-laundering scandal

Major money laundering schemes that take place over the course of months or years can often become public in a drastically shorter period of time, leaving potentially exposed individuals and organizations little time to map out their potential exposure and act to mitigate damage in the face of regulatory sanctions or fines. A recent case of money laundering in a prominent Scandinavian bank’s Baltic branch.

According to investigative revelations, Baltic branches of the institution served as a nexus for money laundering from eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Russia in what is thought to be the largest money-laundering scandals in Europe’s modern history. The exposure of the scandal led to Estonia’s regulator ordering the shut down of these branches 2019, and even the suicide of the former CEO of the branch.

► Read the Cobwebs article here


OSINT Advances With Natural Language Processing: OSINT data-querying and investigation tools to limit false positives and automate processes

Natural Language Processing is a form of machine learning that allows for the teaching of context to a data processing program. Its goal is to enable the rough creation of a human-like understanding of language. While it will not completely replace traditional keyword searching at this point - it will be a bolstering factor to efficacy and relevancy in OSINT investigations.

In the end – NLP and machine learning will allow a computer to make a human-like intelligent decision about a match based on a keyword – but most importantly – driven by an applicable and contextual understanding of the entire text.

► Read the full article at MediaSonar


China opened an embassy on a tiny, remote Pacific island during the pandemic. Here's why

On a blue-sky day in May, as the coronavirus raged across the world, the Chinese flag was raised on a remote nation with a total population of 116,000, thousands of miles from Beijing.

The opening of a Chinese embassy on Kiribati, a nation of 33 atolls and reef islands in the central Pacific, might have seemed strange -- particularly during a pandemic. Just three other countries have embassies in the island state: Australia, New Zealand and Cuba.

Yet Kiribati is the site of growing geopolitical competition.

Last September, it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. China considers the self-governed island of Taiwan a breakaway province and has poached seven of its diplomatic allies since 2016.

And this week, Kiribati's pro-Beijing President Taneti Maamau -- who oversaw the country's diplomatic switch -- won a closely watched election after campaigning for closer ties with China, defeating an opposition rival who was sympathetic to Taiwan.

Kiribati is the latest example of Beijing's growing influence in the Pacific, which consists of a string of resource-rich islands that control vital waterways between Asia and America.

► Read the CNN article here



This former intelligence official was a hero. He’s now the target of a brutal campaign by MBS.

For intelligence officers, there’s a special horror at abandoning colleagues who helped fight common enemies. There’s a sense of moral betrayal and shattered trust — a violation of the unwritten rules of the spy trade.

Some former senior U.S. and British spymasters are feeling that shock to the conscience now, as they watch the plight of Saad Aljabri, a former top Saudi intelligence officer who helped build the kingdom’s counterterrorism capability — and in the process provided what intelligence officials describe as invaluable help to the West.

► Read the Washington Post article HERE


The coronavirus pandemic should change the way we look at national security

The pandemic has pulled the future forward, forcing a changed perspective of national security, and now we must quickly adapt how we operate to reflect this reality. Here are five things that should change about our approach to national security because of this crisis. 

 Read the CNBC opinion piece HERE


The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States

The United States faces a growing terrorism problem that will likely worsen over the next year. Based on a CSIS data set of terrorist incidents, the most significant threat likely comes from white supremacists, though anarchists and religious extremists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda could present a potential threat as well. Over the rest of 2020, the terrorist threat in the United States will likely rise based on several factors, including the November 2020 presidential election.

► Read the full CSIS Opinion Editorial here


Police training programs have a pseudoscience problem

Police training programs often have little basis in scientific research, and experts say misinformation runs rampant without anyone to regulate it.

According to the California-based Institute on Criminal Justice Training Reform, police trainings rely too much on assumptions, anecdotal information, and unverified information.

Bill Lewinski, who trains police officers and often serves as an expert witness in cases, has been criticised by experts for relying too much on studies that lack rigour.

Experts from the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing have called for a nationally recognised, independent, nonpartisan organisation that could help provide resources to police departments across the US.

► Read more at Business Insider


Spying on Americans: Infamous 1970s White House Plan for Protest Surveillance Released

Portions of a long-secret government blueprint for expansive surveillance of domestic protest movements during the Nixon presidency have just been released, more than 50 years after it was drafted.  

The notorious “Huston Plan” prepared by representatives of the White House and the U.S. intelligence community envisioned a smorgasbord of covert operations that made even FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover queasy. 

The proposed activities ranged from monitoring domestic dissident groups — notably the Black Panthers — to office break-ins.

► Read the full story at the National Security Archive



Palantir & NCMEC: Fighting Child Exploitation with Big Data

Last year alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) received 16.9 million reports of images and videos depicting child sexual abuse. With a team of just 30 analysts sorting through as many as 60,000 reports a day, timely triage is a challenge — and when it comes to rescuing victims, every second counts.

► Watch the video HERE


A beery European spy club is revealed

A DANE, A Swede, a German and a Dutchman walk into a bar. It is 1979 and spooks from the four countries are conferring in a Munich suburb over dark and malty lagers. For years they had co-operated in the business of signals intelligence, or SIGINT—intercepting messages and cracking codes—and wanted a name for their budding spy pact. 

They looked at their glasses, filled with Doppelbock beer of the local brand Maximator and reached a decision.

► Read more at The Economist HERE​​​​​​


Govts unmoved on facial recognition

The Australian government still plans to create a national biometrics database allowing authorities to conduct facial recognition matches, despite increasing worldwide scrutiny on the ethical implications and effectiveness of the technology.

Australian states and territories are continuing to upload information to the not-yet-operational national database, while the legislation underpinning the new facial recognition capability still lags in the Parliament, having been rejected by the powerful national security committee last year.

The government remains committed to the legislation and is working on a re-draft. It is expected to soon reintroduce the legislation to Parliament.

► Read more at InnovationAus


FBI used Instagram, an Etsy review, and LinkedIn to identify a protestor accused of arson

It took an Etsy review, a LinkedIn profile, a handful of Instagram videos, and a few Google searches for FBI agents to identify a masked woman accused of setting two police cars on fire during recent protests in Philadelphia. The protests took place on May 30 in response to the police killing of George Floyd.

The case, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, demonstrates how police have been able to use social media and other publicly-available online records to identify protesters from just a few scraps of initial information. According to NBC, the individual charged by the FBI, 33-year-old Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal, now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted and a fine of up to $250,000.

► Read the Verge article here


Research Confirms Links Between Cyber Attacks, Consumer Purchasing and Brand Loyalty

New research has found that while most consumers are taking necessary security precautions to protect their online accounts, businesses may not be doing enough to protect their information – inadvertently driving sales to competitors that can.

A survey of nearly 2,000 consumers across North America, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, found that 70% believe businesses aren’t doing enough to adequately secure their personal information and assume it has been compromised without them knowing it.

► Read the article at Securitymagazine.com


Microsoft: COVID-19 Cyber Attacks Peaked In March And Fell Off Quickly

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive spike in cyber attacks around the globe this spring. A new report from Microsoft reveals some very surprising details about the surge in criminal activity online.

First, there’s the timeline of the attacks. According to Microsoft COVID-19 themed attacks started in early February, just days after the WHO declared a global health emergency.

The overall volume of those attacks was fairly low at first. As the outbreak spread and financial markets tumbled, cyber criminals stepped up their efforts in a big way. Attack volumes spiked to nearly a million a day during the first week of March.

► Read the Forbes article here



How Intelligence Analysts Can Improve Critical Thinking and Writing Skills

Intelligence analysts must be critical thinkers. They need to be able to synthesize disparate information received from multiple sources, and use that information to anticipate and prevent illicit activities including terrorism, human trafficking, and organized criminal elements.

Analysts must also be strong writers, able to share information both clearly and concisely. Ultimately, intelligence analysts are responsible for preparing comprehensive written reports, presentations, maps, or charts based on their research, collection, and analysis of intelligence data.

I learned a lot and greatly improved my critical thinking and writing skills. How was this accomplished? By proactively reading more, writing more and thinking more.

► Learn how at In Public Safety


In Search of (Artificial) Intelligence: The Hottest Emerging Jobs Have One Thing in Common: AI 

Go to LinkedIn and search for jobs with this title and you’ll get 47,747 job openings. Go to Monster.com, put in the same search term, and you’ll get 53,216 jobs. If that’s not enough, go to Glassdoor.com, enter the same search term, and you’ll get 47,692 job openings.

Artificial intelligence jobs are hot, hot, hot. And they probably will be for quite a while.

In LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, its ranking of the top 15 emerging jobs, artificial intelligence ranked at the top.

► Read the HR Executive article here


Want Better Strategists? Teach Social Science

America needs better strategists. And if that wasn’t clear enough from the past two decades of U.S. strategy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s new vision and guidance statement for professional military education brings this need into focus.

This clarity provides a welcome and necessary change and should drive reform. Unfortunately, proposals to fix professional military education often begin with one’s preferred methods. James Lacey’s recent essay, for example, suggests the new vision “demands large increases in the use of history-based case studies” despite the fact that the Joint Chiefs use the word “history” only twice in their 11-page document. In my reading, the guidance is far less prescriptive.

► Read the War on the Rocks article here


Microsoft: COVID-19 Cyber Attacks Peaked In March And Fell Off Quickly

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive spike in cyber attacks around the globe this spring. A new report from Microsoft reveals some very surprising details about the surge in criminal activity online.

First, there’s the timeline of the attacks. According to Microsoft COVID-19 themed attacks started in early February, just days after the WHO declared a global health emergency.

The overall volume of those attacks was fairly low at first. As the outbreak spread and financial markets tumbled, cyber criminals stepped up their efforts in a big way. Attack volumes spiked to nearly a million a day during the first week of March.

► Read the Forbes article here



Government-Private Sector Analytic Tradecraft Standards (CENTRA Technology)

During an 11 February 2020 conference examining analytic tradecraft standards set out by Intelligence Community Directive 203 (ICD 203), experts discussed the ways in which the US intelligence community (IC), the private sector, academia, and FVEY partners implement standards. 

Experts agreed that while there are limited commonalities in the tradecraft practiced amongst the disciplines, ICD 203’s underlying concepts apply across public and private sectors. 


Standards are the embodiment of ethics and the foundational elements to producing effective analysis, and ICD 203 is an ethical document detailing what characteristics intelligence analysis should have rather than how to conduct that analysis. Tradecraft, then, is the tactics, techniques, and procedures used to bake that ethic into a tangible outcome.

► Read the full report here


60% of Insider Threats Involve Employees Planning to Leave

Researchers shows most "flight-risk" employees planning to leave an organization tend to start stealing data two to eight weeks before they go. Employees planning an exit start to show so-called flight-risk behaviour between two weeks and two months ahead of their last day, the researchers discovered.

► Read the Dark Reading report here


Physical security in a post-covid-19 world

When news broke of a virus taking a strangle hold on the city of Wuhan in December 2019, no one could have predicted what the impact around the world would be less than four months later. 

Businesses closed, entire countries in lockdown, whole industries on the brink of collapse; held up by their relevant Governments. With the COVID-19 virus still raging around the world, Stewart Plant from CLD Fencing Systems takes a look at what the physical security landscape could look like in a post-COVID-19 world.

► Read the International Security Journal article here


COVID-19 blamed for 238% surge in cyberattacks against banks

Disarray caused by the pandemic has become a breeding ground for financially-motivated attacks. The coronavirus pandemic has been connected to a 238% surge in cyberattacks against banks, new research claims. 

On Thursday, VMware Carbon Black released the third edition of the Modern Bank Heists report, which says that financial organizations experienced a massive uptick in cyberattack attempts between February and April this year -- the same months in which COVID-19 began to spread rapidly across the globe.   

The cybersecurity firm's research, which includes input from 25 CIOS at major financial institutions, adds that 80% of firms surveyed have experienced more cyberattacks over the past 12 months, an increase of 13% year-over-year.

► Read More at ZDNet


Digital Footprints: De-Anonymizing Threat Actors

More and more people are becoming digital. Social media management platform Hootsuite estimated the number of mobile, internet, and (mobile) social media users is being substantial: 4.388 billion internet users, 5.112 billion unique mobile users, 3.484 billion active social media users, 3.256 billion mobile social media users.

► Download the whitepaper here

The subjects, thoughts, opinions, and information made available in AIPIO Acumen reflect the author’s views, not those of the AIPIO.

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