Web Intelligence Will Be Basic Business and Public Phenomena

October 23, 2013 • Amit Meltzer

Editor’s Note

The following interview is with Amit Meltzer and is from our Web Intelligence Perspectives Series. Amit is currently Senior Consultant at ClearSky Cyber Security.

What is it about Web intelligence that is such an important opportunity to you?

Cyberspace is the ideal intelligence arena. The fusion of people’s professional and personal data, the availability of rich and up-to-date metadata, the easy utilization of social engineering techniques in intelligence gathering and the global reach and easy access — these attributes make the Web a very good place for research as well as intelligence gathering.

What drives the interest in Web intelligence in your community? What hole in your world does it fill?

Leakage … cyberspace is a sieve. The nature of the Web and social networks, coupled with cellular smart platforms and now appliances and devices — they all leak an amazing amount of data otherwise not easily accessible if at all. With the Web, we can find out what privileged info leaked out from organizations or people.

We can also create a comprehensive data landscape that drives innovative research and analysis we couldn’t do prior to the Web.

What does a critical insight from Web intelligence look like?

That depends on your issues and goals, but here are some examples:

  • A forewarning of an upcoming cyber attack drives better defenses and damage control. A focused warning with dates, tools and methods can overturn a cyber campaign.
  • Analysis of transactional traffic reveals competitive commercial espionage and compromised business alliances. Business in cyberspace is volatile and exposed to monitoring and manipulation, so online analytics are critical for retaining a competitive edge.
  • Critical inputs for strategic planning and tactical operations. Don’t travel to Benghazi this week, lower your prices on rice-based products, drop your distributor — he’s selling out your activity reports and contact to the competition, these are the insights that we need.

The rate of change in competition and technology and the meshed nature of the Web mandate a responsive management model, driven by online data. Civil unrest and similar geo-spatial issues, new incursions by competing brands or disruptive technologies, supply chain fluctuations and disruptions – any insight on these can be critical to a business or a public service.

What is your vision for how Web intelligence could be used?

The broad scope and bad noise / signal ratio of Web intelligence rarely allows for acute pinpointed insights on any specific issue. The best way to use Web intelligence is in three complementing methods:

  • Broad market or country wide population dynamics analytics. This vector provides the general backdrop to all other analysis.
  • Integrated analysis with focused business, security or similar data collected internally and enriched or complemented by open sources. This vector provides intelligence on specific business issues or similar goals.
  • Knowledgebase-driven pattern and trend analysis. This vector straddles the previous two, providing intelligence on hidden and emerging dynamics within the general landscape, driving new insights on competition, threats etc.

Looking ahead, will Web intelligence become a standard piece of tradecraft in your community? Will it “go viral”?

Web intelligence is already part of the intelligence tradecraft in Israel. The scale of investment and death of service bureaus limited it to national security agencies and large corporations. The emergence of new tools, an intelligence service model and the plummeting costs of cloud infrastructure will make Web intelligence a basic business and public phenomena before the end of the decade.

Rather than going “viral” — it’ll become a staple food.

The next horizon is coming, in the form of the connected sensors and devices. The amount and quality of raw data will explode by several orders of magnitude, and with it the value and quality of Web intelligence. From 2020, this will be the premier intelligence gathering and analysis arena.

Amit Meltzer

Amit Meltzer is a technology strategist and evangelist, providing consulting services to VCs, hi-tech companies, enterprises and government offices. Mr. Meltzer’s fields of interest include civilian cyber defenses, open source intelligence and information harvesting, big data management and analytics, and social engineering. Born, raised and living in Israel, Mr. Meltzer is an experienced traveler. He served for a long time in the intelligence community of the government of Israel.