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Cognitive Search: valuable technology for intelligence services in the fight against terrorism, fraud and money laundering (by Laurent Fanichet, Sinequa)

19 février 2018


The increased severity of domestic security breaches due to terrorist threats and cybercrime poses a strategic challenge for State security services. The strengthening of human resources, now widely deployed, as has been the case in France since the 2015 attacks, is not enough to meet the challenge alone. Increasing efficiency and speed, controlling the means of communication used by terrorists, but also, and above all, anticipating the lead-up to such actions, are all challenges that can benefit from the latest data processing technology, including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning and Deep Learning.

In the mass information age, the ability to handle Big Data – huge volumes of structured and unstructured data – is absolutely crucial. Being able to analyse and extract key information in the fight against cybercrime as quickly as possible will revolutionise the work of administrations mobilised in this struggle. To increase efficiency, they must expand the data sources examined and optimise the interoperability between their systems.

Cognitive Search is all about accessing the right information at the right time – for people with the necessary authorization. This artificial intelligence (AI) tool processes Big Data almost in real time to extract relevant and contextualised information from a multitude of complex data sources. Cognitive Search’s intelligent data processing combines with Machine Learning: the ability of computers to learn as they process information to deliver increasingly relevant results. The power of the tool to further the operational efficiency of intelligence services thus has the potential to exponentially increase their predictive analysis capacities. This cognitive learning is a way of adapting to the ongoing sophistication of intelligence techniques in the fight against terrorism, money laundering and fraud.

Preventing attacks thanks to Insight Engine technology.

These Cognitive Search platforms allow for text searches and smart analysis using AI, enabling data to be interpreted and similarities in topics and content to be detected, even if texts don’t use the same vocabulary. It allows to map a network of people, topics, locations, etc. This technology helps security services identify criminal activity. Even in the case of « lone wolves », it is possible to draw upon the traces they inevitably leave on the internet or the “dark net” in as far as agencies keep a tap on it, to detect behavioural patterns, and thus prevent them moving towards taking action.Cognitive Search has an essential role to play in the fight against money laundering, which is one of the main sources of funding for terrorism. Investigators have the task of accurately identifying cybercriminals, drawing upon huge amounts of data in an extremely short period of time. Insight Engine technology allows data – in particular financial data such as account and card numbers or fund transfers – to be cross-referenced in order to identify fraudulent activity.

Sparse information can be precisely detected and combined for « mapping » purposes – tracing the links between suspects and movements of capital. Insight engines draw upon this interaction mapping to detect traces of illegal activity and track them back to the perpetrators.

Monitoring social networks to track organised crime is fundamental to the work of the intelligence services. They use Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), which includes all the intelligence obtained from public sources of information.

Recent terrorist attacks have shown that responsiveness is the key to effective surveillance. Monitoring social networks, discussion forums, blogs and other digital communication tools is an essential way of detecting radicalising profiles and gaining real time insights into potential threats. It allows for identification of behaviour posing a threat to domestic security and anticipation of future attacks.

Also used by banks and insurers to prevent financial risks, Cognitive Search platforms are thus indispensable tools for fast and efficient data processing. Using the best technology is vital for a modern intelligence service in its fight against terrorism, fraud and money laundering.

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