Friday, March 21, 2008

Some considerations in writing marketing copy for security agencies

Contractor's Website Reveals Clandestine CIA Programs

Is there any way one can figure out some of the CIA's most highly guarded secrets from a corporate website?


I’ve done it. (And you can count on it that America’s friends and enemies alike have, too.) ...

... Heckle and Jeckle also brag about a micro-electromechanical facility which becomes particularly interesting in conjunction with their job openings announcements. Reviewing the skill sets they're looking for, it quickly becomes apparent that they design and program their own computer chips, so they're clearly creating proprietary cutting-edge gadgets. It's notable how frequently they're searching for engineers with experience in one of the most miserable operating systems for mobile devices: Windows mobile. They're also regularly seeking programmers versed in another mobile device language: Symbian. Now this information taken in conjunction with their specialty and their prior claims of micro-electromechanical facilities suggests they're designing and creating a lot of mobile, hand held covert communications devices.

And here I'd venture a pure guess that these are probably designed to look like standard run-of-the-mill Treos and other smart phones, blending their “intelligent phones” into the mobile world. The largest consumer of such gizmos is, of course, the CIA's DS&T, adding to suspicions that Heckle and Jeckle is a major DS&T contractor. The primary use of such covert communications gear is for communications with nonofficial cover officers (NOCs) and agents. So the information on Heckle and Jeckle's site suggests that they are likely designing and creating the latest must-have accessories for NOCs and agents, a far cry from the clunky COVCOM gear of yesteryear. (And from the Agency's point of view, knowledge of this would be a serious security breech. Keep in mind the CIA does not even allow contractors to acknowledge their affiliation with the Agency, let alone divulge the programs they are working on, particularly such sensitivities ones.)

Not only have CIA programs been compromised, so have SOCOMs. Judging from the job postings for positions in Florida, Heckle and Jeckle are doing data mining and analytical work for SOCOM. Among other things that can be deduced, they search for relational patterns of terrorist activity and affiliations, looking at a wide array of seemingly innocuous relationships using open source and clandestinely gathered data, particularly focusing upon financial transactional data. I'm betting they have a very sophisticated quantitative model that they're constantly tweaking that underlies this process.

Again, Heckle and Jeckle job postings give us hints to other SOCOM programs. It appears that Heckle and Jeckle are involved in tracking SOCOM assets worldwide. Moving beyond Heckle and Jeckle's own website to other open sources, it's possible to learn some of the specs of related handhelds including whose low-earth orbiting satellites they use. Digging a little deeper, it's also possible to discover the code name of Heckle and Jeckle's RF geolocation program...

Your marketing needs to tell agencies enough so they know what you offer without giving away so much that you compromise national security. Clearly the security agencies need a federal intranet site that had pages for all of the contractors that would be accessible to all federal agencies with a need for such capabilities, but not accessible from the Internet. Your public website should market those products and services that are a matter of public record with some hint that you have additional products and services that are available on a custom basis without going into details.

This is also a perfect example of why security agencies need social media consultants, because clearly while they are reading blogs, they do not understand the implications of social media.

No comments: