According to Wikileaks. We have a new level of intrusion in our lives.
Hacked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor shed light on a global suspicious activity surveillance system called TrapWire that is reportedly in use in locations around the world from the London Stock Exchange to the White House. The emails, which were released yesterday by WikiLeaks, provide information on the extent and operations of a system designed to correlate suspicious activity reports and other evidence that may indicate surveillance connected with a potential terrorist attack.
A proprietary white paper produced by TrapWire, formerly called Abraxas Applications, describes the product as “a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance.” In an interview from 2005 with the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the CEO of Abraxas Corporation Richard “Hollis” Helms says the goal of TrapWire is to “collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists.” Fred Burton, the former CEO of Stratfor and current vice president, describes TrapWire in an email from November 2009 as “a technology solution predicated upon behavior patterns in red zones to identify surveillance. It helps you connect the dots over time and distance.”
The TrapWire system provides the following capabilities:
• A mechanism for a facility’s personnel to record suspicious activity data in a structured format;
• A mechanism to identify and link related events following human review;
• The ability for a facility’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) to identify threat trends at his/her facility (increasing or decreasing) and to drill down into the specific event reports that generated those threats;
• Alerts to the CSO of events that do not affect the threat score but may nevertheless be of interest;
• The ability to notify a facility of a changing threat level within its industry or geographical location;
• A mechanism to correlate external events such as watch list events for suspected terrorists or stolen vehicles with other observed event data already within the system;
• The ability to correlate events occurring at different facilities by related individuals, and to notify all affected facilities of the increased threat to their facility based on this related activity;
• A mechanism to reduce the system-calculated threat level at a facility, based upon the time since the last threatening event; and
• Notifications, alerts, and possible action recommendations based on a particular site’s security plan, implemented via a set of rules that act upon event information.
From the company itself
TrapWire is a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance. As such, TrapWire represents the basis for a paradigm shift in the methodologies traditionally applied to securing critical infrastructure and personnel; a paradigm shift from the currently accepted and widely adopted philosophy of damage mitigation through increased physical security to a new and proactive approach of attack prevention through the identification and disruption of pre-attack planning and surveillance activities.
While terrorists have developed ingenious methods of attack, and have proven to be extraordinarily patient, every major attack has and will continue to require extensive pre-attack site surveillance. This type of surveillance necessitates multiple site visits over what can be prolonged periods of time. Following the Khobar Towers incident, the Downing Commission report revealed that pre-attack surveillance of the facility was conducted by a three- person team that had visited the barracks on forty (40) occasions over an eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) month period of time. Employing standard methodology, this same team conducted similar surveillance against other US targets in the region as did Dhiren Barot when he cased and produced detailed dossiers on the Prudential Financial Center in New Jersey, Citigroup Headquarters and the New York Stock Exchange in New York, and the IMF and World Bank facilities in Washington, DC.
Big Brother is watching.