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Spy tactics can spot consumer trends
MARCH 22, 2016 | Financial Times | John Reed.
Israel’s military spies are skilled at sifting through large amounts of information — emails, phone calls, location data — to find the proverbial needle in a haystack: a suspicious event or anomalous pattern that could be the warning of a security threat.....So it is no surprise that many companies ask Israeli start-ups for help in data analysis. The start-ups, often founded by former military intelligence officers, are using the methods of crunching data deployed in spycraft to help commercial clients. These might range from businesses tracking customer behaviour to financial institutions trying to root out online fraud......Mamram is the Israel Defense Forces’ elite computing unit.
analytics  consumer_behavior  cyber_security  data  e-mail  haystacks  hedge_funds  IDF  insights  intelligence_analysts  Israel  Israeli  Mamram  maritime  massive_data_sets  security_&_intelligence  shipping  spycraft  start_ups  tracking  traffic_analysis  trends  trend_spotting 
april 2019 by jerryking
Computer vision: how Israel’s secret soldiers drive its tech success
November 20, 2018 | Financial Times | Mehul Srivastava in Tel Aviv.
.... those experiences that have helped such a tiny country become a leader in one of the most promising frontiers in the technology world: computer vision. Despite the unwieldy name it is an area that has come of age in the past few years, covering applications across dozens of industries that have one thing in common: the need for computers to figure out what their cameras are seeing, and for those computers to tell them what to do next.........Computer vision has become the connecting thread between some of Israel’s most valuable and promising tech companies. And unlike Israel’s traditional strengths— cyber security and mapping — computer vision slides into a broad range of different civilian industries, spawning companies in agriculture, medicine, sports, self-driving cars, the diamond industry and even shopping. 

In Israel, this lucrative field has benefited from a large pool of engineers and entrepreneurs trained for that very task in an elite, little-known group in the military — Unit 9900 — where they fine-tuned computer algorithms to digest millions of surveillance photos and sift out actionable intelligence. .........The full name for Unit 9900 — the Terrain Analysis, Accurate Mapping, Visual Collection and Interpretation Agency — hints at how it has created a critical mass of engineers indispensable for the future of this industry. The secretive unit has only recently allowed limited discussion of its work. But with an estimated 25,000 graduates, it has created a deep pool of talent that the tech sector has snapped up. 

Soldiers in Unit 9900 are assigned to strip out nuggets of intelligence from the images provided by Israel’s drones and satellites — from surveilling the crowded, chaotic streets of the Gaza Strip to the unending swaths of desert in Syria and the Sinai. 

With so much data to pour over, Unit 9900 came up with solutions, including recruiting Israelis on the autistic spectrum for their analytical and visual skills. In recent years, says Shir Agassi, who served in Unit 9900 for more than seven years, it learned to automate much of the process, teaching algorithms to spot nuances, slight variations in landscapes and how their targets moved and behaved.....“We had to take all these photos, all this film, all this geospatial evidence and break it down: how do you know what you’re seeing, what’s behind it, how will it impact your intelligence decisions?” .....“You’re asking yourself — if you were the enemy, where would you hide? Where are the tall buildings, where’s the element of surprise? Can you drive there, what will be the impact of weather on all this analysis?”

Computer vision was essential to this task....Teaching computers to look for variations allowed the unit to quickly scan thousands of kilometres of background to find actionable intelligence. “You have to find ways not just to make yourself more efficient, but also to find things that the regular eye can’t,” she says. “You need computer vision to answer these questions.”.....The development of massive databases — from close-ups of farm insects to medical scans to traffic data — has given Israeli companies a valuable headstart over rivals. And in an industry where every new image teaches the algorithm something useful, that has made catching up difficult.......“Computer vision is absolutely the thread that ties us to other Israeli companies,” he says. “I need people with the same unique DNA — smart PhDs in mathematics, neural network analysis — to tell a player in the NBA how to improve his jump shot.”
Israel  cyber_security  hackers  cyber_warfare  dual-use  Israeli  security_&_intelligence  IDF  computer_vision  machine_learning  Unit_9900  start_ups  gene_pool  imagery  algorithms  actionable_information  geospatial  mapping  internal_systems  PhDs  drones  satellites  surveillance  autism 
november 2018 by jerryking
Unit 8200: Israel’s cyber spy agency - FT.com
July 10, 2015 | FT| by John Reed.

Unit 8200, or shmone matayim as it’s called in Hebrew, is the equivalent of America’s National Security Agency and the largest single military unit in the Israel Defence Forces....Unit 8200. In few other countries does the military establishment mingle so closely with academia and business, to all three sectors’ profit. Last year, Israel’s export of cyber security products — designed to protect companies, banks and governments from the growing “dark web” of hackers, fraudsters and snoopers — topped $6bn, exceeding Israeli exports of military hardware for the first time. Today Israel, with just eight million people, captures about 10 per cent of the global cyber security market, which is growing rapidly after high-profile hacks that in some cases — such as at Target, and Sony last year — have cost CEOs their jobs....In an open letter in September 2014, published by Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and broadcast on Channel 10, a group of 43 serving and former 8200 reservists revealed what they said were coercive spying tactics being used on innocent Palestinians, including the collection of embarrassing sexual, financial or other information....But what does 8200 actually do? Israel, as Netanyahu never tires of saying, lives in a “bad neighbourhood” in the Middle East, surrounded by several countries it classifies as enemy states. This requires world-class hacking and artificial intelligence tools as warfare moves from conventional battlefields — land, sea and air — to include cyber terrain.
artificial_intelligence  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  dark_web  hackers  IDF  Israel  Israeli  security_&_intelligence  spycraft  Stuxnet  Unit_8200 
july 2015 by jerryking
Early Failure to Detect Gaza Tunnel Network Triggers Recriminations in Israel - WSJ
By ASA FITCH in Gaza, RORY JONES in Jerusalem and ADAM ENTOUS in Tel Aviv CONNECT
Aug. 10, 2014
Gaza  tunnels  Israel  Hamas  IDF  security_&_intelligence 
august 2014 by jerryking
Yossi Klein Halevi: A Lesson From the Yom Kippur War for a Perilous Time - WSJ.com
October 3, 2013 | WSJ | By YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI.
A Lesson From the Yom Kippur War for a Perilous Time
Golda Meir didn't strike pre-emptively in 1973 because she was 'scared' of angering the White House.
security_&_intelligence  Yom_Kippur_War  pre-emption  Israel  lessons_learned  Iran  diplomacy  Mideast_Peace  IDF  Egypt  Syria  war  militaries 
october 2013 by jerryking

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