04 February 2009

Thoughts on Military Usage of Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, etc.) tend to have one thing in common: networking. From that aspect, it seems a perfect fit for the military intelligence community to utilize these tools as well. After all, the intelligence community is spread out across the world, large in numbers, may cover various military branches, and in need of methods of rapid information dissemination. This makes them perfect candidates for utilization of Web 2.0 tools save for one major issue: security.

There is an element of danger that accompanies the usage of these tools and it is magnified in the intelligence community. For instance, wikis are notoriously bad for providing misinformation because of the nature of how they are editable (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/01/26/wiki). While it may have little impact that an 8th grader utilizes mininformation about Nolan Ryan gathered from Wikipedia.org in a report, mininformation in the intelligence community could have fatal ramifications. Information without verification is always dangerous and Web 2.0 tools only serve to speed the dissemination of mis-information (when present).

In addition, security concerns must abound over the usage of such tools in the intelligence community. For instance, it could be difficult to control who does/does not have write access to a military wiki, who has security clearance to see informaiton, and how much verification is required before others can act on information. Keeping others from hacking the information is also of great importance and cannot be overlooked.

Regardless of the detractors, the benefits of rapid information sharing and dissemination likely override the concerns and these tools play an important role in keeping the American populace somewhat safe.

8 comments:

Seth said...

I agree that wikis are notoriously bad for providing misinformation because of the nature of how they are editable. Perhaps a counter move would be to post decoy wikis with misinformation to intentionally mislead the opposition. That would take some doing to keep ahead of what was valid versus invalid information.

juniorsenator said...

Go Longhorns! The intelligence community obviously evaluates its vulnerability levels, while using this information technology, and thus we can assume that they try to stay ahead of the curve. However, I think it's fair to also assume that there is not a way to absolutelu outrule a poosibilty of a major security breach that could jeorpardize the life on analysts and/or the nation!

Charanne said...

Reading the other blogs, it seems security is one of the main issues where we are all doubtful. As far as access to the military wikis, is there a way to limit the edit function. I'm sure there would be, but then you are also limiting the contributions that could be made. Doing this would be contrary to the true use of the technology. Just like it is up to readers of Wikipedia to verify information on the site, the intelligence community, one would assume, would do the same.

MELINDA FRANKS said...

I agree with you that despite the negatives that may exist, the benefits that come from utilizing web 2.0 tools make it worthwhile. There are plenty of ways that the military can take advantage of web 2.0 without putting security at risk. I have confidence that the DIA can come with measures that will assure that information won't be leaked into the wrong hands.

John Shefchik said...

You bring up a good point about covering various military branches. Sharing information can vastly improve intelligence across branch lines, but also cut down on the cost for intelligence gathering. Intelligence gathered by one branch can be easily shared via the use of Web 2.0 tools. The result could decrease fatalities and help reach objectives more quickly.

Essaid Elbou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Essaid Elbou said...

Intellipedia is one of the applications that use web 2.0 services that allows only authenticated users to gather and exchange top secrets information between intelligence agencies. I do agree that if the access is not controlled and not limited to secure users, wrong and false information would be used and catastrophic decisions would be taken by military management.

Anonymous said...

Great point about possible misinformation. When using web tools 2.0 gad information that is posted will have a compounded effect. When an e-mail has bad info it only effects the people on the e-mail. Using web tools it will be used by every person inside the wiki, blog, etc. It will be important to have someone auditing the information, but if that is necessary doesn’t it kind of defeat the purpose. Great post.

Jason Stauty