A-Space: a social networking site for intelligence analysts

September 7th, 2008

Sixteen US intelligence agencies are encourage their staff to use A-Space, a new social-networking site for analysts being developed by the US Government and slated for launch on 22 September.

A-Space is an effort sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency is managing the project with serving as the prime contractor for development.

CNN has an article, CIA, FBI push ‘Facebook for spies’, with some of the details.

“It’s a place where not only spies can meet but share data they’ve never been able to share before,” Wertheimer said. “This is going to give them for the first time a chance to think out loud, think in public amongst their peers, under the protection of an A-Space umbrella.” Wertheimer demonstrated the program to CNN to show how analysts will use it to collaborate.

“One perfect example is if Osama bin Laden comes out with a new video. How is that video obtained? Where are the very sensitive secret sources we may have to put into a context that’s not apparent to the rest of the world?” Wertheimer asked. “In the past, whoever captured that video or captured information about the video kept it in-house. It’s highly classified, because it has so very short a shelf life. That information is considered critical to our understanding.”

Material on A-Space is, of course, highly classified and compartmentalized, so there will be stringent access control procedures. To further prevent information from being inappropriately accessed or used, A-Space will employ additional mechanisms, including monitoring for anomalous access patterns.

“We’re building [a] mechanism to alert that behavior. We call that, for lack of a better term, the MasterCard, where someone is using their credit card in a way they’ve never used it before, and it alerts so that maybe that credit card has been stolen,” Wertheimer said. “Same thing here. We’re going to actually do patterns on the way people use A-Space.”

Federal Computer week also has a recent article on A-Space, A-Space set to launch this month.