back to article FUD flies as Raytheon reveals social media analysis tool

Defence contractor Raytheon has developed a tool that can mine social media to track and predict individuals' behaviour, according to The Guardian. A global “Big Sinister Defence Company Develops 'Google For Spies' That Your Government May Already Have Bought “ story is therefore unfurling as you read this piece. The key “ …


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  1. bag o' spanners

    Raytheon need the press hysteria

    To convince the mugs in Homeland Security procurement that it's worth paying five times as much for something backed by a trusted lobbying network.

  2. Magani

    It's not just Raytheon

    As mentioned in the article, it's not just nasty defence contractors who are doing this.

    A word to the Twtterati, Faceplanters and others of that ilk; If you don't want to be investigated or made into a statistic by Big Data, stop blithering on to world+dog about what you're doing every waking moment of the day. If there's no data for them to mine, then there's no market for their wares.

    It may come as a surprise, but 99.999999% of the internet couldn't give a dead dingo's kidney about what you had for breakfast or who you were with in your over-blinged Instagram.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: "99.999999% of the internet couldn't give a dead dingo's kidney"

      Big Data must care, or why else would they be harvesting all this data?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: "99.999999% of the internet couldn't give a dead dingo's kidney"

        "big data" is the 0.0000001% of the internet.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Alister

      Re: Social networks are clouds - a snooper's paradise - DATA ENTROPY

      Do you know, Eadon has made a post which did not contain one instance of the word "Microsoft", nor did it try to tie in any aspect of the article to a certain Redmond based company.

      Have an upvote, take two aspirin and go and lie down...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Social networks are clouds - a snooper's paradise - DATA ENTROPY

      I would upvote you for an almost sensible post, but you refer to yourself in the third person, this doesn't have good precedents...

  4. DF118

    Thank you Reg

    I read that hysterical Graun piece the other day with a slowly-curling upper lip, thinking the whole time that the way to frustrate RIOT or any other such data analysis tool is not to make public such information you don't want "them" (regardless of who that may be) to know. It's pretty damn simple. If you're running around making public posts/tweets of the minutiae of your daily life complete with a geotagged photo stream then you shouldn't be surprised that anyone with a bit of knowledge and a computer will eventually come along and put it all together either for money or just for shits and giggles.

    I actually like the Graun. Despite its myriad failings it at least tries to be a newspaper of record. It is however very guilty of repeatedly publishing badly-researched bogeyman stories like this whilst proselytising almost non stop about the brave new techno utopia being created by the likes of Apple, Google etc.

  5. John Tserkezis

    This software serves two purposes.

    Analytics for the purposes of political gain (votes), or, selling crap to the masses.

    Neither of which I find attractive.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Call it FUD if you like, and I'm inclined to agree, but still it shouldn't just be ignored. When a defence contractor is offering this sort of thing, you can be sure that it will excite just the wrong sort of people.

    I agree that in our part of the world we don't have to worry about repressive regimes - only shadowy agencies. If it stayed like that I'd be reasonably content, but it does seem that our 'open' governments have a tendency to want to build up the tools of repressive regimes.

    If nothing else, talking about it and creating FUD might just get the point home to the vast majority who, as the article says, don't "care or even realise the reality of the situation".

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Secret ?

    Its only a secret if you don't tell everyone. Or, you tell everyone and then researchers don't do their job and write up sensational headlines:(

    In June 2010

    Raytheon announced plans to develop "a scalable interoperable analytical system to aid Defense as "With nearly a third of all humans on the Internet, the civil, commercial and military worlds are swimming in data - in fact, too much data."

    Way back in May 2007....

    at the CanSecWes computer security conference, Roelfe Temmingh of Paterva demonstrated a POC program called Evolution. Roelfe was investigating the nascent concepts now known as open source intelligence, OSINT, whereby fragments of publicly available information such as email addresses, usernames, domains, social network ids, white pages listings etc. could be mined, processed "transformed" to create new search criteria and then linked to create a bigger picture.

    This bigger picture could also show relationships between persons of interest eg Friends of Friends matrices, geo & exif tagged photos, Foursquare locations & times, collocated domains, business adresses & personnel, that formerly were not easy to recognise or manipulate manually to create actionable intel. In 2009 v2 was released as a commercial product known as Maltego, and featured prominently on the BlackHat Vegas & DefCon security conferences.

    That was then.

    Social media users post their life story to the web and thereby revoke any expectation of privacy. These computer programs are just facilitators that allow the same work done by countless office clerks in the Stasi era to be carried out more efficiently and to provide realtime analysis. Perhaps people should go google themselves for enlightenment as to their OSINT digital footprint. Or use the free Maltego community edition to see how far that rabbit hole goes.

    In balance UK has GCHQ doing stuff too,

    Ironically, there has been reports that goverments are using multiple fake personas on social networks to spread propaganda or disinformation.

    I hope The Machine can identify the real persons of Interest.

  8. The Blacksmith
    Black Helicopters

    Quick check then...

    Facebook - no account, Twitter - no account, Google Plus - no posts, No Photos on instaflick, yep seems ok to me. You can't post your life online and then worry about the stalkers. Especially when as mentioned it was so well known this was all possible.

    Of course, google, facebook, twitter, linkedin, and everybody else who supplies those "like" buttons on a page get referrer information and cookie information to allow them to track your online habits. If you don't run your photos through jpegtopnm pnmscale then pnmtojpeg to strip exif information (and reduce the size) then you get everything you deserve.

    I have to admit I like the idea of people spending all this effort at tracking. There's so much low hanging fruit that those that are harder to track are (currently) being ignored.

    Oh no, I hear a helicopter

    1. Sporkinum

      Re: Quick check then...

      "Of course, google, facebook, twitter, linkedin, and everybody else who supplies those "like" buttons on a page get referrer information and cookie information to allow them to track your online habits."

      NoScript, Better Privacy, AdBlock+, and the built in cookie controls in Firefox take care of that.

      NoScript nukes the code, Better Privacy nukes the flash cookies, AdBlock+ nukes the tracking GIFs, and Firefox nukes the cookies.

      I'm sure there is more you can do, but I bet that takes care of most of it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you sell your soul to the devil.. giving away all your personal data in exchange for search and social tools, don't be surprised if he then uses it to turn a profit at your expense

  10. Scott Pedigo

    "... Big Blue, too, could help someone nasty to obtain, retain and analyse ... data about us all."

    They already did that, didn't they? In the 1930's, didn't they sell data processing equipment (punch card based?) to the Nazis to help them keep track of all the Jews?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      This old chestnut again:

      IBM supplied, via its German subsidiary what was basically census tabulating equipment. They supplied these perfectly legally as they were not subject to any trade embargos and there is no (credible) suggestion that they had any ideas about what was going on in Germany at the time. There is certainly not any (credible) suggestion that they knew their equipment was being used in concentration camps, or what was going on in those camps.

      Bear in mind that the vast majority of German citizens had no idea what was going on, why would an American parent company of a German subsidiary know? They certainly didn't put "tabulating machines for management of the extermination of Jews" on the PO.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Err...

        No, you're quite right. The Hollerith Tabulation Machines were actually created a couple of years earlier for the purpose of recording all the Japanese Americans who were interned in concentration camps by the U.S. and some were only sold to the Naz....sorry, I mean the Polish Government of the day as a secondary market. Nothing suspect there at all.

        Of course, the Hollerith machines had to be re-calibrated by IBM for use in the Third Rei....sorry, Poland, because they had variables attributing Japanese nationality, how long since the subject had last been to Japan, how long they'd been in the USA etc. and needed to hold different variables now, such as where the Jew resided, when the Jew was placed on a train, to which camp and how long did they survive etc. etc. It was just good customer service to make those changes to the machine and also not suspect at all.

        Also not suspect is the fact that the CEO (of a mysterious holding company that was clearly, in no way, a wholly owned subsidiary of IBM) was given awards and medals by the Naz...sorry, the Polish Government of the day, for services rendered in the arenas of Economics and helping to ensure railway time tables were accurate and passenger-freight management was effecient.

        Nope. Nothing suspect there at all.

        [In IBMs defence, they have, in recent years, freely supplied as much information as they have to bodies investigating the War Years and have wholly condemned any participation they may have had in such events without reservation.]

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    What Raytheon's tool is really for?

    "The key “features” of Raytheon's tool .. are said to be an ability to sift through social media and figure out who your friends are and the places you frequent"

    I don't know any spys, criminals or 'terrorists' but one would imagine that such people would avoid social media like the plague. The real uses of Raytheon's tool being so the government can spy on its own people. Remember a watched people is a compliant one :)

    "It's implied .. that such software is likely to end up in the hands of a repressive State, or a shadowy agency inside a more open State"

    You're being sacastic here, aren't you :)

  12. Andus McCoatover

    Minority Report.... we come.

  13. Andus McCoatover

    Think the acronym RIOT, and the logo says it all...

    A bullet?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    It's not just social media that can be tracked...

    Who made the mistake of making their comment board usernames the same?

  15. taxman
    Big Brother

    And Lockheed Martin

    have Wisdom as their piece of kit in social network analytics.

    (in a brown envelope please)

    So what's news here?

  16. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Great Intelligence Gameplay ...... Virtual Machines vs Human Beings

    Remember a watched people is a compliant one :) ...... dgharmon Posted Monday 11th February 2013 11:58 GMT

    I would disagree, dgharmon, and suggest that a watched people is a dangerous one. And RIOT is a program which is easily groomed to deliver false positives to have snoopers fail to provide what is promised to customers/suckers ..... and that would have Raytheon in the frame for ...... well, it would be pure and simple fraud then, wouldn't it?

    If it really worked, there would be practically no crime at all and yet every day is the news full to overflowing with tales of misdeeds to keep the system busy providing funds and activities for itself, and not a lot of people yet know of that little gem of a wrinkle that has everyone chasing ghosts and phantoms and creating enemies for fighting rather than friends for building fabulous fabless futures with dynamic derivatives controlled and led from CyberSpace Bases securely protected and servering new realities via the Cloud layer with CHAOSystems ..... Systems Operating Advanced Hosting Clouds

    Quite what Raytheon are thinking in their promoting of what is actually a remote malware introducing trojan, is most probably a sign of a lack of prime leadership at the top servering a market with leadership at the top of a similar ilk ...... and that makes all involved vulnerable to intelligence grooming which can be either bad or good.

    And that is solely dependent upon the wishes of the groom and/or the intelligence agency which the groom is supplying services to, if the groom so wishes.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Great Intelligence Gameplay Hiding in Plain Sight ...... Virtual Machines vs Human Beings

      Ps .... it does take an Einstein or a RIOT program to tell anyone and everyone what all of the above [Posted Monday 11th February 2013 14:10 GMT] would be leading to with persons of interest.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Great Intelligence Gameplay Hiding in Plain Sight ...... Virtual Machines vs Human Beings

        Hmmm? Quite whether there be an intentional typo in that last bronze offering doesn't really do its message any great harm. Indeed, it may very well be that it makes more sense in the phorm displayed to leading persons of interest.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The fantasy lives on

    That by finding a "terrorist" they will then find their colleagues.

    And by applying that plan backward they will find all such terrorists.

    This is b******t.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nancy "the Constitution only applies when I say it does" Pelosi's husband still making a lot of money from Raytheon? When we can choose to limit or violate one amendment and redefine it away from being a "Civil Right" by propaganda and legislative action, there's nothing that keeps the rest of the amendments any safer. I'm sure we can find a good reason (for the children, natch) to go after that pesky 1st Amendment too. Programs like this analysis "tool" are perfect weapons for government to use the 1st to go after the rest.

    If there's money to be made and campaign contributions to kick back, all the better.

    CA politicians-the reason why SOPA/PIPA , DMCA, and RIAA/MPAA are still a threat and always sneaking back from the dead. the best politicians Hollywood money and propaganda can buy.

    Anonymous because some politicians are not allowed to be questioned, at least according to their rabid fans. Wag that dog!

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