The FBI is in the early stages of developing an application that would monitor sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as various news feeds, in order to find information on emerging threats and new events happening at the moment. The tool would give specialists the ability to pull the data into a dashboard that also would include classified information that’s coming in at the same time.
As the country’s national police force, the FBI has found itself in the middle of the fight against cybercrime and in many cases, it has been outmanned and outgunned by the attackers. The cybercrime ecosystem changes minute by minute and hour by hour, and new threats and techniques evolve virtually every day. One of the interesting things that’s emerged in the last year or so, is that attackers have taken to either warning people of or bragging about new attacks on social platforms, especially Twitter.
To help deal with this rapidly changing landscape, as well as with other physical threats and situations, the FBI is turning to the software industry for help. The agency is looking for someone who can build an app that will pull information and data from a wide range of platforms and be used to give agents a better picture of what’s happening.
One of the key capabilities of the new application, for which the FBI has sent out a solicitation, would be to “provide an automated search and scrape capability for social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crisis and threats that meet the search parameters/keywords defined by FBI/SIOC.”
The FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center is looking to use the application to help it collect better open source intelligence for use in investigations and breaking events. The bureau’s solicitation says that the app must be secure, lightweight and “have the ability to rapidly assemble critical information and open source information and intelligence that will allow the SIOC to quickly vet, identify and geo-locate breaking events, incidents and emerging threats.”
The FBI also wants the application to be able to cache the data that is collected from the social networks and news sites, giving it a history of users’ activity on those networks. It’s also vital that the app have a function that enables the FBI to map ongoing events and add historical and current data on terrorist activity to the maps.
The solicitation that the FBI published is only a preliminary request for information and not yet a request for proposals from vendors.
In addition to the mapping and scraping capabilities, the FBI is interested in having an application that would provide the ability to monitor specific keyword searches on Twitter and elsewhere and enable agents to push information from the app to other law enforcement agencies and government officials. Responses to the FBI’s solicitation are due by Feb. 10.