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10/12/2010
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DARPA Developing Tech To Stop Insider Threats

Defense agency seeking collaborators on technology to predict when soldiers or other government insiders pose a danger to themselves or others.




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The technology research arm of the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to develop technology to determine ahead of time when soldiers or other government insiders may become a threat to themselves or others.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking ideas for its Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales (ADAMS) program, which will produce technology that can sift through the behavioral signs that may lead to someone turning on his or her cohorts, and prevent the action before it happens, the agency said.

"Each time we see an incident like a soldier in good mental health becoming homicidal or suicidal or an innocent insider becoming malicious we wonder why we didn't see it coming," according to an announcement about an ADAMS industry day on Oct. 19. "When we look through the evidence after the fact, we often find a trail -- sometimes even an 'obvious' one."

The problem with putting all the pieces of evidence together is the process of analyzing the data, knowing how to spot the difference between normal and abnormal behaviors, and determining how they may lead to a threatening incident, the agency said.

With ADAMS, the agency aims to "create, adapt, and apply technology to the problem of anomaly characterization and detection in massive data sets," according to DARPA. Following the industry day, it will release a broad agency announcement on FedBizOpps.gov seeking proposals for the program.

DARPA hopes the military and the counterintelligence community can use the technology to catch potentially threatening behaviors "before or shortly after they turn," it said. The agency defines an insider threat as one coming from a person already trusted in a secure environment who has access to sensitive information, systems, and sources.

Indeed, security threats from insiders are a chief concern for the federal government, which has seen numerous cases of sensitive information being leaked by trusted employees.

The DoD's ongoing battle with the website Wikileaks, which publishes classified information provided by insiders, is a prime example. In July the U.S. Army formally brought charges against an intelligence analyst, Private First Class Bradley Manning, for leaking classified video footage from Iraq to the site.

Another concern among military officials is suicides by soldiers, which have been on the rise since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. The Army in particular has undertaken efforts -- such as offering suicide counseling when previously psychological treatment was seen as a stigma -- to try to prevent more soldiers from taking their own lives.

At next week's ADAMS industry day, DARPA plans to introduce participants to the program and the agency's interest in applying automated and integrated modeling, correlation, exploitation, prediction, and resource management to the insider-threat problem.

The agency also hopes to identify organizations or individuals who may have valid ideas for ADAMS, and set them up with meetings with potential program managers for potential collaboration on the project.

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