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[infowar.de] US-Geheimdienste: Info-Austausch nimmt Formen an
Federal Computer Week
Intell info-sharing net gains support
BY Diane Frank
Jan. 21, 2002
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks broadsided the intelligence
community, top officials believe they have the impetus needed to link
the 14 intelligence agencies into an information-sharing system
originally proposed more than a year ago.
The plan, put together by the executive board of the Intelligence
Community Chief Information Office at the end of 2000, calls for the
development during the next two years of a network- or Web-based system
that brings together all of the information intelligence agencies
With the September attacks generally recognized as evidence of a
breakdown in communications within the intelligence community and across
government, the intelligence office now has the cultural support for the
system that was previously lacking, said Douglas Mosier, senior
architect for the office.
The Intelligence Community System for Information Sharing would include
a suite of analytical software that would enhance the performance of the
individual analysts and the community as a whole, Mosier said this month
at the Federal Convention on Emerging Technologies in Las Vegas.
On a daily basis, the system will allow analysts to draw links among
data to which they do not currently have instant access, he said, adding
that users may even automatically receive new information relating to
their projects as soon as the data is entered into any system on the
network. "This environment will fully integrate all of the systems and
knowledge in the intelligence community."
The office plans to use a public-key infrastructure, which combines
digital certificates and encryption technology to protect information,
identify users within the system and allow them to encrypt and decrypt
data. The office has already developed a partial PKI directory to manage
The executive board, which is made up of chief information officers from
each of the intelligence agencies, has instructed the agencies to Web-
and PKI-enable their most critical applications. The agencies also are
working on "metadata" standards ? a way of tagging and indexing their
information so that it is easier to find and exchange.
Past pilot projects for smaller intelligence community collaboration
systems suffered from inexperience on the technical side, said Kerry
Buckley, an analyst at Mitre Corp. who is working in the intelligence
community's Collaboration Facilitation Center. The center serves as a
testing and review organization for the office.
By learning those lessons in the pilot programs, however, the
intelligence community is much better prepared to make current
collaboration efforts a success, Buckley said.
This system, and the push toward information sharing since Sept. 11,
will not counteract the deeply rooted culture of deliberate stovepipes
overnight, because "there are some natural, built-in competing tensions
that get in the way of information sharing," said Richard Wilhelm, vice
president for information security at Booz Allen Hamilton.
But the intensity of the movement to change that culture is greater now
? particularly as the intelligence community structure seems to be
getting stronger than individual agency tensions ? and that gives this
initiative a good chance for success, said Wilhelm, who also was
director of the intelligence community management staff in the Clinton
Under homeland security, information sharing has become a critical issue
across all of government, not just the intelligence community. Part of
this effort involves bringing intelligence resources and information to
government organizations not normally exposed to that data, including
many civilian federal agencies and state and local "first responders."
That effort will present technical and policy challenges as officials
face security clearance problems and cultural issues such as teaching
the non.intelligence community how and when to use intelligence
information, said Michael Dunlavey, assistant to the director of the
National Security Agency.
For now, establishing technical and policy cooperation among the
intelligence agencies is the top priority, said William Dawson, deputy
CIO for information assurance for the intelligence chief information
office. "First thing we're going to do is get the intelligence
community's own networks working together," he said.
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