>> ALERT| Intelligence sources in Saudi Arabia have signaled that the regime is paving way with plans to test their first batch of plutonium-based nukes installed at an undisclosed location. The origins of these ultra-classified nukes are unknown.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Centcom deploys virtual 'personas' onto Internet

With control of cyberspace increasing in importance to military planners, U.S. Central Command has enlisted a small army of virtual "personas" to have a presence on the Internet – especially on social media sites.
In August, the Tampa-based command, which oversees U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and much of the Middle East, signed a $2.76 million contract with Ntrepid Corp. to provide software that will create as many as 500 "different online persons" with "background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent," according to details from the contract request posted online in June.

The contract, according to Central Command spokesman Cmdr. William Speaks, "supports classified social media activities outside the U.S., intended to counter violent extremist ideology and enemy propaganda."
The software, according to the contract request, is designed to allow operators "to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries."
The personas "must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms."
Officials from Ntrepid, which according to its linkedin profile provides national security and law enforcement customers with software, hardware, and managed services for cyber-operations, analytics, linguistics, and tagging and tracking, did not respond to e-mails and a Facebook message seeking comment.
The concept of creating personas to deliver messages online has created a buzz on the internet, where bloggers like Happy Rockefeller of the Daily Kos have questioned its ethics.
This "concerns me greatly," Rockefeller wrote recently. "It goes far beyond the mere ability for a government stooge, corporation or PR firm to hire people to post on sites like this one. They are talking about creating the illusion of consensus. And consensus is a powerful persuader. What has more effect, one guy saying BP is not at fault? Or 20 people saying it? For the weak minded, the number can make all the difference."
For Central Command, there are rewards as well as risks in creating personas, according to Paul Henry, the owner of CNET, a Boynton Beach-based computer forensics and network security firm.
"The value is getting your word out there by pretending to be someone else," said Henry. "The danger is they blow through your persona."
Henry likens the risks to companies that have used fake personas to tout products online, only to have people discover that the person doing the touting actually works for that company.
"That turns out to be a negative," he said.
Even before this contract, Central Command staffers in Tampa played a role in the online discussion.
Speaks said the persona management software contract is not connected to those efforts, but public affairs officers like him already use social media and the Internet to ensure the United States' point of view is represented in the online conversation. Those efforts are augmented by the command's "digital engagement team" – individuals, working for private contractors, who speak Arabic, Urdu and Farsi.
Launched in January 2009, the digital engagement project is part of the command's "broader strategy of ensuring we did not neglect what many call 'new media' (social media, blogs, etc.) in our communication efforts," Speaks wrote in an e-mail interview with The Tampa Tribune last year.
Command leaders, he said, "found that an aggressive enemy propaganda campaign by violent extremists had led to the presence of an enormous amount of misinformation about U.S. military activities, and that these were audiences we could not afford to neglect."

By radiationcell313 with No comments


Post a Comment

    • Popular
    • Categories
    • Archives