KDnuggets : News : 2006 : n11 : item20 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

Briefs

Data mining: The new weapon in the war on terrorism?

BY Aliya Sternstein, May 29, 2006, FCW.com

If the government is analyzing Americans’ phone records to discover and track terrorist networks — or ever plans to do so — the requisite technology would cost a lot of money, demand considerable computing power and raise privacy issues, observers say.

The possibility that the government is sifting through tens of millions of phone records came to the public’s attention earlier this month after USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had collected records from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.

Although it is unknown if the government is probing phone records for national security purposes, the possibility shines a spotlight on the potential benefits and drawbacks of a sophisticated technology that few people fully understand.

That technology is data mining, or extracting knowledge from a vast amount of data. The technique requires super fast computers and software capable of performing complex algorithms, experts say.

“Terrorists are smart enough to know that if ‘Al’ and ‘Joe’ are both known criminals, they can’t talk directly without attracting law enforcement’s attention,” said Hoskin, who has worked on data analysis and data-mining projects for corporations such as Equifax and Enron during his 25-year career. “With link analysis algorithms, you can start looking for common sets of paths [or] routes.”

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KDnuggets : News : 2006 : n11 : item20 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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