This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
One of the world’s fastest growing technological fields is called ’Lawful Interception’, namely enforcing the law in cyberspace and gathering cyber intelligence, as well as conducting surveillance and monitoring over the internet. This issue has been receiving increasing budgets worldwide. Even regulation is picking up pace in order to allow law enforcement agencies to act and collect data effectively, while minimizing the infringement on civil liberties and privacy to collateral users.
The setting for this widening effort has been the increase in cyber crime and cyber criminality, in particular by so called ’conventional’ criminals and criminal groups – rather than by hackers, hacker groups or cyber attackers. These elements have been using cyber media as the means to communicate and perpetrate their hacks and criminal activities on a major scale. It should also be noted that various aspects of counterterrorism are also affecting this global rise in budgetary allocation, though this is to a lesser degree, with a lesser effect.
Surveillance and intelligence produce data and gather raw resources at various stages of the so called chain of information. This pertains to cellular phone, personal computers, 3G, Wi-Fi and so on, from landline infrastructure, databases, cloud computing and IT systems. Telecom companies (both fixed line and cellular) are required by law to gather data and allow law enforcement agencies access to their clients’ data and to data concerning them.
Survey company TechNavio conducted a comprehensive study on the future market for intelligence and surveillance between 2015 and 2019. The survey highlighted quite a few interesting issues. TechNavio estimates the coming years will see an average annual increase of 40% in the budget allocated to this field.
The market is in fact comprised of several types of providers: the tech companies, which feature capabilities or products; integration companies, featuring an integrated on the shelf system, usually in the framework of a turn-key solution, and companies which provide intelligence over a set period. They are known as IaaS – Intelligence as a Service. The world’s major actors in this field are most integrators. These are companies such as CISCO, Siemens, SS8, ZTE from China, as well as Israeli companies such as Verint Systems, Elbit and Elta. Speaking of the latter, we should note that Esti Peshin, an honored participant in many i-HLS conferences and events, is in charge of this field at Elta. Numerous small companies and start-ups are developing fascinating products and groundbreaking capabilities. Some of the sell the product (along with the company, sometimes) to integrators, and some sell to end customers such as law enforcement bodies and intelligence agencies.
The products and systems cover the entire operational change, comprising intelligence gathering and subsequent ’normalization’ (Unstructured to structured data). This includes data storage, analysis, monitoring for unusual and irregular patterns and deriving operational insights and alerts. Fascinating and innovating companies such as MAGEN collect data stored in Clouds, along with so called Black Swan Technologies, usher in the revolution in terms of features that confer on analysts data and operational insights hitherto unavailable.
One of the greatest challenges the report highlights is the rapid development of new communications protocols. This is a serious challenge for market, compelling the various companies to be fully familiar with all the standards and protocols, and find their breaches and vulnerabilities they can use for the benefit of surveillance and intelligence. The bulk of this effort is currently focused on gathering data, with speech constituting a lesser focus. This, although automated speech to text and audio credibility continue to rank high in law enforcement agencies’ priorities.