By Eric Burger, Research Professor at Virginia Tech and Former CTO of FCC
You don’t have to follow the headlines closely to know that we live in a dangerous world. Any moment can bring a highly volatile and unpredictable event. For law enforcement agencies across the world, it’s a race to find needles in haystacks and piece together digital clues from varying sources of data. Given this reality, agencies are increasingly using hyperscale data analysis as an essential tool to fight crime.
Data types, including geospatial variations, lawful intercepts and all kinds of activity logs, are being analyzed in as close to real-time as possible to help authorities get ahead of bad actors and keep our society safe. Yet as these sources of data, in some cases with highly sensitive attributes, grow exponentially, so do the threats of unintended consequences. The trillions of rows of data being analyzed by the “good guys” must be protected and handled in a secure, scalable fashion. Regulations like the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, signed in 1994, requires communications providers and their suppliers to make intercepts available. However, the networks of 1994 have nothing like the volumes of traffic we see today. This means service providers must focus continuously on leveling up their data capabilities.
Below are 3 best practices and how Ocient aims to provide an industry leading solution, built from the ground up, to help law enforcement and government agencies understand that, like Spiderman taught us, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
More Copies, More Risk
With terabytes of data, law enforcement and government agencies’ systems need to be designed for resiliency, but every redundancy brings a new risk of data leakage. Simply put, the fewer copies being made, the more secure the workflow. Ocient’s Zero Copy Reliability makes the analysis of hyperscale data more secure because no unnecessary copies of the data are being made in Ocient’s Hyperscale Data Warehouse. Zero Copy Reliability also makes hyperscale data analysis more cost-effective for budget constrained agencies unable to scale infinite resources. You can learn more about Zero Copy Reliability from Ocient’s Chief Architect here.
Need for Flexibility and Workload Management
Every crime can feel unique. For law enforcement agencies to gain actionable insights from some of the world’s largest datasets, they must be able to query massive amounts of complex data in ways that are flexible and return results in near real time. Technologies built even just a few years ago haven’t been built for multiple agencies to run queries in production and get results in within interactive time. When you’re doing analysis that could save lives, there is simply no time to wait days for custom queries to run. With Ocient, continuous, complex analysis delivers query results in minutes.
Private and Public Sector Collaboration
The need for collaboration is not new to law enforcement. However, finding people who are empowered to work together in new ways is getting harder. Law enforcement and government agencies need to collaborate with trustworthy technology companies beyond the giants of Silicon Valley. While cutting edge infrastructure and cloud capabilities can be bought off the shelf, it’s going to be the solutions that provide flexible deployments across environments, in many cases on-premises, that will drive the best results. Ocient’s best-in-class engineers offer up this flexibility and have the expertise with hyperscale data to prove it.
There is a well-deserved focus on privacy concerns and government’s use of data for public good. As datasets continue to grow to hyperscale levels, free societies will continuously debate this topic in hopes of striking the right balance between lawful intelligence and civil liberties. But even as the debate wages on, the dangers are only growing. Ethically collected and managed information provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to catch the bad guys using data analysis. The time is now to design with purpose and implement solutions that are built from the ground up with integrity as the core requirement.
About Dr. Eric Burger
Dr. Burger was previously the Assistant Director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy responsible for the United States policy for telecommunications and cybersecurity portfolios. In this role he reported to the US CTO in the Executive Office of the President. Before that, Dr. Burger was the CTO for the FCC, serving as an advisor to the Chairman and as the senior technology expert in the agency. Other positions include Chairman of the Board for atfCYBER, Advisory Board member for Dexrex LLC, Board Member for Ascension Technology Group and CTO at Neustar. He is currently Research Director of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) at Virginia Tech. You can learn more about Dr. Burger on his LinkedIn page here.