The Cyber-Location Nexus: How the Cyber Defense Community can Leverage Location #GEOINT

There were two very prominent elements that were exposed at this session at the GEOINT conference in New Orleans:

  1. The ability to map cyberspace has advanced to the point of understanding social relationships and the connectivity of disparate sources such as through various social media networks.  John Kelley of Morningside Analytics showed various diagrams such as a map of the blogosphere in Iran (see example below). He showed clusters of groups favorable to the Islamists and others who were followers of one Ayatollah or another.
  2. The next step in understanding cyber-warfare is to tie it to location. Ideally, the correlation would be accomplished in real-time such that it will advise on how weapons platforms and interdiction efforts are deployed.
As mentioned above, one of the more fascinating parts of the session was delivered by Kelly who showed various cyber-maps depicting the relationships within the blogosphere by country. While his “maps” were not identifying a location for the source of each unit of social media, he emphasized the importance of doing so eventually. His objective is to where the physical and virtual worlds meet, essentially establishing a cyber–social geography where patterns of affiliation can be recognized and classified based on common group identities. He emphasized that what happens in cyberspace is tied to real people and real locations.

Another member of the panel, Kevin Pomfret, a lawyer with the Center for Spatial Law and Policy, emphasized that “As we talk about geospatial and cyberspace and the nexus, it’s important to remember, law is still tied to a geographic area.” Pomfret compared current U.S. laws that look to protect the citizen from unwarranted intrusion of privacy from companies or the government making unlawful use location-based social networks to that of China.  He said that in china, you have a country without restrictions on what information they can collect on their citizenry. They have built a sophisticated system to monitor people which have interesting ramifications for industrial espionage.

Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot, U.S. Air Force, and the director of Plans and Policy at the U.S. Cyber Command at Ft. Meade gave the opening keynote to this session and said that the amount of money lost from cyber crime exceeds the amount of money lost on drug-related crime; it’s why there is so much emphasis in terms on cyber within homeland security discussions.

Published Friday, November 5th, 2010

Written by Joe Francica

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