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By Spencer Ackerman
August 31, 2010
Tomorrow's WikiLeakers may have to be sneakier than just dumping
military docs onto a Lady Gaga disc. The futurists at Darpa are working
on a project that would make it harder for troops to funnel classified
material to WikiLeaks -- or to foreign governments. And that means if
you work for the military, get ready to have your web, email and other
network usage monitored even more than it is now.
Darpa=E2=80=99s new project is called CINDER, for Cyber Insider Threat. It's
lead by a legendary hacker-turned-Darpa-manager. CINDER may have
preceded Pfc. Bradley Mannings' alleged disclosure of tens of thousands
of documents about the Afghanistan war from Defense Department servers.
But the idea is to find someone just like him. By hunting for poker-like
"tells" in people=E2=80=99s use of Defense Department computer networks, Darpa
hopes to find indications of indicate hostile intent or potential
removal of sensitive data. "The goal of CINDER will be to greatly
increase the accuracy, rate and speed with which insider threats are
detected and impede the ability of adversaries to operate undetected
within government and military interest networks," according to the
defense geeks' request for contractor solicitations on the project.
That took on an increased urgency last month after WikiLeaks dropped
77,000 Afghanistan field reports into the public domain. While Admiral
Mike Mullen=E2=80=99s furious blood-on-its-hands reaction got all the press
coverage, Defense Secretary Robert Gates' response appears to have been
the more lasting one, policy-wise. Gates fretted that a casualty of
WikiLeaks=E2=80=99 document dump would be the Defense Department's years-long
initiative to push vital information down to the front lines, so lower
ranking officers and enlisted men had the sort of high-level battlefield
views that used to be the province of their commanders. All that=E2=80=99s been
jeopardized by Manning, he said, the soldier accused of being WikiLeaks=E2=80=99
"We want those soldiers in a forward operating base to have all the
information they possibly can have that impacts on their own security,
but also being able to accomplish their mission," Gates mused in a July
press conference. "Should we change the way we approach that, or do we
continue to take the risk" of future leaks? Gates partially answered his
own question -- however cryptically -- by adding, "There are some
technological solutions," though "most of them are not immediately
available to us."
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