back to article UK's Home Office dangles £32m for application support on comms-snooping network

The UK's Home Office is on the hunt for a supplier to help support applications running on its counter-terrorism data network to fulfil a contract that could be worth up to £32m. The National Communications Data Service (NCDS) gives security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies legal access to communications data. In a …

  1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    We should be looking forward to all that snooping data appearing in a leaky AWS bucket some time soon, then.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      They'll have to recover their data from OVH first.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A fundamentally flawed principle

    One of the most basic principles of intelligence is: if you're looking for a needle in a haystack, don't unnecessarily increase the size of the haystack.

    Effective intelligence is targeted and selective. "Intelligence" efforts that are not spend most of their time and resources misinterpreting noise. This is extremely costly and wasteful of effort, quite apart from the problems of false positives - and indeed false negatives, which seem to have contributed to a few terrorist incidents quite recently.

    Unfortunately, current "intelligent" technologies are far worse at detecting important relationships (as opposed to just potential relationships) than experienced human intelligence officers. The mindset required is clearly described in several readily available works, e.g.:

    R V Jones: Most Secret War, Hamish Hamilton 1978 and subsequent editions

    Abram Shulsky: Silent Warfare, 2nd ed., Brasseys (now Potomac Books) 1993

    It's essentially the ability to assemble a realistic holistic picture from relevant fragmentary evidence. The two things that militate against current machines doing it well are the conditionals realistic and relevant, which rely on understanding - a capacity we've so far not been able to automate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A fundamentally flawed principle

      @Mike_137

      Quote: "....don't unnecessarily increase the size of the haystack..."

      *

      Ah......an elegant and plausible comment, complete with references, in the patrician style of Sir Humphrey!

      *

      But the truth is that for the STASI, there CAN NEVER BE ENOUGH intrusion into the lives of the citizenry!

      *

      Oh...and in 2021, the bigger the haystack, the more Sir Humphrey and his Oxbridge chums get paid!

      *

      What's not to like.....if you are on the inside?

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Bob?

        IS THAT YOU?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A fundamentally flawed principle

      Completely correct, but its a lot easier, more fun playing with tech and easier to get bigger budgets if you go slurping.

      Careful, methodical analysis takes more time and uses less toys - also few people have the analytical skills or desire to work hard / focus on a problem when there's a natty web interface to code up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No prior experience of working with the intelligence community?

    not to worry, just make sure you deliver the curry as per your T&T that you didn't write and we didn't read...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I expect the contract, when written, will require security clearance for everyone working on it. Whether they're looking for a contractor with previous intelligence work or not at present they're going to find someone with that background is going to have the staff to meet the requirement a good deal more easily than a company that hasn't.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Is it any wonder things are the way they are ... ie dire

    It said the NCDS "may decide that it requires an organisation with an innovative approach, a highly proactive mind set and the desire to constantly seek better ways of delivering success."

    FFS.. Sweet Mother of God, they need at least all of that. Anything less delivers the usual default of a monumental fail and that old politically inept staple after the inevitable future investigative committee boondoggle ... ..Lessons will be learned ..... but they never are, and what does that tell one and all about the quality of personnel?

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Big Brother

    has "supported saving many lives,"

    But we'll never tell you how many. Nor will we tell you how many terrorist actions were stopped because of surveillance.

    Don't worry your pretty little minds with such things, Citizen, just be good and cower in a corner while we "protect" you.

    Oh, and John ? Sarah doesn't like the way you look at her. Just an FYI.

  7. s. pam
    Facepalm

    I’m sure someone will

    Be Cumming up with a blinding solution we can cast our eyes over soon!

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Always looking for a fast free buck on the back and at the expense of others is an Achilles Heel

    The persistent resident problem is that governments are loathe to engage with blinding solutions from others they do not have command and control of, fronting for information of which they have no direct experienced knowledge and with zero available access to the key vital proprietary intellectual property of the blinding solutions held privately by others, with that being deliberately intentional by advanced intelligent design ..... for some at least have learned valuable future lessons from far too many to mention, regrettable events of the past.

    Put a greedy ignorant gorb in a sweet shop with a free run of the place and you'll perfectly understand the need to ensure the premises and stock are always securely guarded with everything protected by especial locks and keys.

    It is not so much a Mexican standoff, with no winners or losers, but much more a case of Establishments always playing catch up and paying dearly for that which privately remotely leads them to publicly slush fund novel exercises best kept Classified COSMIC Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information and certainly off the books. Which whenever one thinks and concludes it quite perfect for something so new and disturbing today, is maybe some comfort, being as how that must be so familiar as a default protocol with regards to old style shenanigans that were run in the past.

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    NCDS

    Searching for intelligence!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: NCDS

      NCDS ...Searching for intelligence! .... Chris G

      How many are convinced they wouldn't be able to recognise it, even if it knocked on their door and presented itself to them?

      Knock, knock. Is there any great intelligence searching going on in there, over there, and down there on Earth? Have they any idea what it looks like, other than falsely assuming it would be something of a match to their own, which of course, is ridiculous and quite mad and maddening.

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