Understanding MASINT and Its Practical Uses

18.07.2019

MASINT: Information is first collected, then gathered, and finally analyzed.

This is a key process in intelligence gathering, when raw data is transformed into useful intelligence that supports decision-making.

Intelligence collection is a broad science, but we will focus on one specific discipline that is not as widely discussed as the rest.

Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) is a specialized branch of intelligence collection. It is a highly technical field that aims to identify and track the distinct attributes of target sources.

Breaking down MASINT

In layman’s terms, we define MASINT as the information obtained by sensors to describe and record the characteristics of a target.

MASINT uses the scientific process. It gathers both quantitative and qualitative data such as metric, angular, spatial, duration, magnetic, and many more types.

With these, we get to know the target more—and know where they are going.

So how are these data obtained, exactly?

There are specialized electronic sensors with the sole purpose of identifying the characteristics of the source, emitter or sender. The sound of aircraft propellers, fluctuating temperatures, material composition of evidence—these are just some of the numerous features that MASINT can obtain.

MASINT is really just about gathering the by-products of these devices.

Such devices or equipment generate a certain by-product or “signature” that is measured, hence the terms “measurement” and “signature” in MASINT. These signatures can be biological, chemical, thermal, nuclear, radioactive, electromagnetic or mechanical in nature.

Based on this description of MASINT, we can say that it is capable of giving a fingerprint of any weapon system. It can provide unique and useful information that other disciplines may not be able to give.

The complexity of MASINT

However, by no means is MASINT collection as simple as defining it. Unlike human intelligence (HUMINT), where information can be gathered from human sources, MASINT requires complex tools and equipment to obtain information.

Since MASINT is widely used in military operations and warfare, a complete MASINT system involves a variety of electronic and sensory equipment to make intelligence-gathering as accurate as possible.

How MASINT started

The early use of MASINT remains unclear, but the techniques used now hail from an interesting history.

Ancient warship captains were believed to rely on the senses to measure the characteristics of the skies, wind, and water. There was no technology to analyze information, but rather a mental collection of signatures that formed the basis for tactical strategies.

Even engineers from the Middle Ages relied on acoustic phenomena—putting their ears on the ground to gather information from sound.

In World War I, soldiers utilized acoustic and optical intelligence to locate artillery that increased their odds of victory.

In World War II, belligerents used radar to track down foreign aircraft, and employed chemical detectors to identify chemical agents used in warfare.

Compared to HUMINT, SIGINT or GEOINT, MASINT is a more recent discipline. Due to limitations in documentation and evidence-based research, the full potential of MASINT cannot be quantified.

Ongoing MASINT studies also remain classified. However, it is a promising discipline.

The sub-disciplines of MASINT

As if MASINT isn’t complex enough, you’ll learn that MASINT itself is just the tip of the iceberg.

MASINT deals with a lot of signatures with varying characteristics. Here are some of the most common forms of MASINT:

● Radar Intelligence (RADINT)
○ Collates dissimilar elements that do not fall under HUMINT, SIGINT or GEOINT

● Foreign Instrumentation Signals Intelligence (FISINT)
○ Intercepts unknown electromagnetic signals emitted from foreign aerospace systems

● Acoustic Intelligence
○ Deals with the collection and analysis of acoustic signals

● Nuclear Intelligence (NUCINT)
○ Measures information obtained from nuclear weapons, devices, methods and facilities

● Electro-optical Intelligence (ELECTRO-OPTINT)
○ Analyzes information from electromagnetic sources within the light, UV and infrared spectra

● Laser Intelligence (LASINT)
○ Collects information from laser threats and measures power sources, power levels, and frequencies of laser systems

Application of MASINT

MASINT provides intelligence on the weapons of the enemy, their equipment locations, and patterns of life.

For the military commander, MASINT facilitates full understanding of operations. When utilized properly, MASINT is effective in foiling clandestine and deception methods executed by the enemy.

MASINT can identify air missiles and track submarines. It can also detect an unknown radio frequency, but this will need SIGINT in order to decipher any encrypted information. Nevertheless, MASINT makes it possible to collect the information relevant to the transmission, and not necessarily about the message itself.

With the knowledge of a weapon’s location, counter-intelligence measures can be formulated.

Here are some general instances when MASINT can be applied:

● Assessing battlefields
● Detecting strategic and tactical missiles
● Detecting and recognizing aircraft, ships, and submarines
● Detecting nuclear and chemical activities
● Detecting, locating, and identifying explosives

Even though MASINT may seem more strategic than tactical, it actually provides a more insightful approach to the situation when analyzed and disseminated correctly.

Integrating MASINT with other disciplines

There is no all-knowing intelligence discipline, no matter how much we want it. How does an omni-sensor sound—an all-seeing tool that saves valuable resources? Can you imagine how phenomenal it would be for military practice?

But no, there is no one discipline that is one-size-fits-all. We know that intelligence collection has reached its finest when all disciplines are utilized to arrive at the best decision.

To create a true omni-sensor, a multi-disciplinary approach to intelligence collection and analysis is crucial. When you integrate MASINT to HUMINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, and TRASHINT—you will arrive with accurate, insightful intelligence that aids in decision-making.


Strengthening Defenses with Security Intelligence

12.06.2019

There’s so much you can do with the Internet—the good and the bad. Cybercrime is so ruthless that experts predict it will incur $6 trillion worth of damages by 2021. It is the largest threat to every company, and one of the toughest challenges of mankind, created by mankind, for mankind.

The evidence itself is in the numbers. Do you think nothing could be worse than drug trade, terrorism or human trafficking? According to Cisco, cybercrime will be more profitable than the biggest illegal drug trades in the world combined. Give it a few more years, and even the most savage syndicates will turn to cybercrime to strengthen their networks—if they haven’t already. Cybercriminals are always two steps ahead—who knows what they’re cooking now?

As a key person in an organization, you have the corporate responsibility to prioritize safety and security—of the employees, finances, and data down to the last detail. You do this through security intelligence, a smart approach to protect your organization from all threats possible.

What is security intelligence?

Security intelligence is the real-time collection, analysis, evaluation and response of data generated from an organization through users, software and IT infrastructure.

By intelligence, we mean information that holds relevant value to your organization. The ultimate goal of security intelligence is to give significant insight to identify, prevent or reduce threats regardless of the size of the organization.

You don’t just collect information in retrospect; you have to know what is going on right now in all nooks and crannies of your network. Then you gather data from every source within your network, so you can compare and see patterns. With analytics, you can perform behavioral profiling and determine false positives. As soon as you have the right intelligence, you present your findings in a concise approach to the top-level management of your organization.

In simple terms, the information provided by security intelligence is laid in front of you. You may not know it, but there may already be a breach of security as you speak—and you’ll never spot it without proper correlation and analysis of data.

How is security intelligence applied?

You’ve heard it many times, but what exactly does security intelligence do? What is it good for? How is it so beneficial?

Here a few ways on how you can apply security intelligence to your business:

Monitoring accounts

What are the odds of having a rogue employee? Even with pre-employment screening, an insider can be a threat. Security intelligence tracks the routine events of your users. It can look into activities and access permissions and alert you for any unusual behavior.

Detecting fraud

Your company’s customer service department is the highest risk vector for fraud. How many users comprise the call center? Imagine all of them having access to clients’ accounts, credit card details, and personal information. This is a serious security risk, but not all internal network monitoring systems can look into this specific network in real-time. Security intelligence, in comparison, can dive deep into this area and detect unusual activity suggestive of fraud.

Recovering compromised accounts

You want to prevent unauthorized access to your network at all times. However, the access itself is not preventable as the attacker enters all valid credentials of the original user. Security intelligence only detects the infiltration through changes in the routine events of the user’s login after the successful access. This will instantly alert your team so you can take immediate action.

How is security intelligence flexible?

Do you own a small business? Do you run a social enterprise? Security intelligence is not exclusive for business giants with a lot of resources, big budgets, and employees. Once you’re in business, there’s always competition.

With your competitors in the background, what can put your business at risk? Complacency.

And complacency opens the doors for security threats to break your defenses. Without security intelligence, you won’t even know there’s a breach going on already.

Open source intelligence and competitive intelligence are both beneficial for strategy-building and decision-making, but you still need security intelligence to protect your company from cybercrime. So whether you belong to a small or large-scale company, security intelligence is helpful.

There is no universal platform used for security intelligence; it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s a complex process and the approach done by one organization may not be effective for your own. The good thing is that security intelligence is flexible, and there is room for configuration. You can modify it according to your company’s risk posture and weaknesses. Utilizing the right approach identifies both internal and external threat data and transforms them into threat intelligence, forming the basis for making security decisions.

How does security intelligence provide insight?

Not all companies have their own analysts to perform security intelligence. In many organizations, third-party providers comprising of security intelligence experts trained in IT security do the service. In both cases, what matters is the accuracy of the results from which you derive insight.

Collecting the right information—sifting the relevant data from the less significant ones—is crucial in security intelligence. Do you know how much data you hold in your organization? You’ll be surprised how much big data you have stored in your networks. How do you deal with the overload? Security intelligence can help you make sense of the big data. A comprehensive insight will let you look at the big picture and guide you to make the right security decisions.

There is a need to add layers of defense to your organization’s network. This reflects on how you secure your assets, including business data, IT infrastructure and intellectual property. In turn, your ability to secure all these will reflect your organization’s reputation.

Security intelligence is more defensive than it is offensive. Fortunately, this approach is within reach to any organization who takes security seriously. This matters because as you innovate, threats become more sophisticated. As you read, enemies may be breaching your organization’s defense layers right now—utilizing complex measures to infiltrate your network in ways you have never imagined. Can you stop them?


7 Questions on Person Background Checks answered

06.06.2019

Reading a random person’s resume is one thing, but doing a background search is another. For a company screening qualified job-hunters, running a person background checks is often the best and only measure to identify the best applicant of the bunch. By “best”, we not only refer to intelligence and experience, but a whole lot more.

1. What is a Background Check?

A background check is the process of investigating and gathering relevant information such as past or present employment, commercial experience, financial history and criminal records of a person or organization. In layman’s terms, background checking an individual involves digging through many documents and interviewing people to verify facts.

The result of a background check reveals information taken from different sources, such as, but not limited to:

● Schools
● Former employers
● Business interests
● Social security
● Credit history
● Criminal history

2. What is the Purpose of a Person Background Check?

The practice of background investigation extends throughout many industries to provide managers with insight and protect every industry’s best interests:

Recruitment

This is the biggest piece of the pie. Background checking is most availed by recruiters or hiring managers during employee screening. This is particularly true for very sensitive positions such as those belonging in the security, academic, medical, airline and banking industries. Even in the public sector, positions in law enforcement, military and finance need trust and confidence from higher authorities.

The main purpose of person background checks in the context of pre-employment screening is to find out an applicant’s weakness in character and health, and to spot security and safety risks. Any offense within the past work experience is a serious matter, especially for government positions. The ultimate goal of background investigation is to ensure that current employees in the company or organization remain safe and secure.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Background checking is also useful for other people, such as SME owners who want to get to know their prospective business partners, and landlords who want to ensure that their tenants have no criminal history.

Firearm License

Depending on the country, certain affiliations or interests also require background checking. In the US, the Brady Bill requires those who intend to buy firearms and explosives to undergo criminal checks first.

Immigration and Citizenship

In light of issues on national security such as terrorism and drug trafficking, many states do a thorough background and derogatory check on all aliens who wish to enter their respective countries as workers, immigrants or refugees. This is to protect public welfare and minimize, if not eliminate, the threat of undesirable aliens.

3. Who Runs a Background Check?

Ideally, a government agency is the most qualified, unbiased provider of background checks. However, because of their own laws and regulations, not all countries may easily provide this kind of service to anyone who wishes to do an investigation.

For their convenience, companies may have their own private background investigators, but it is not uncommon to employ third-party providers to cross-check information about applicants. Most security companies that provide services like executive protection, business intelligence and fraud investigation also offer individual background checks.

4. How Much does a Background Check Cost?

The rates for requesting documents vary across countries and states. Records from offices like trial courts, professional bodies and motor-vehicular agencies range from $5 to $15, while federal criminal records may go up to $65. Meanwhile, sex offender databases are almost always free to use by the public for online criminal checks.

Private security firms who provide background reports will, of course, charge a premium fee for performing the investigation and gathering all the records. The rates also vary depending on the number of applicants and the extent of the background check as desired by the company. Retrieving records from international groups such as INTERPOL will also cost more considering the overhead costs and difficulty of acquiring information from an outside agency.

For an exact quote, security firms usually propose a plan tailored for a company’s needs and convenience.

5. Is It Essential for Companies to Perform Background Checks?

It’s alarming how many jobseekers misrepresent information in their resumes. According to a 2015 TIME magazine article, more than half of recruitment specialists detect lies on applicant resumes.

Because of bad hire, employers end up in a catastrophic situation—losing their profit, reputation and time. This is a real scenario in Poland, where wrong selection of employees forced 77% of companies to re-recruit due to issues on dishonesty, inefficiency, tardiness and even theft.

Rather than losing thousands or millions of dollars in repeating the recruitment process, why not make it a protocol to perform routine background checking on all prospective applicants? If you’re a business owner, it’s a small price to pay when you know you’re hiring an applicant with a clean record.

While it is not required by law, background investigation has a lot of weight in employee selection. Human resource managers now use it as part of a rubric to gauge an applicant’s overall qualification for the job. In the long run, this will be beneficial for both the employer and employee.

6. How Long does a Background Check Take?

A typical background check will need 3-7 days to complete. For federal documents like FBI records in the US, it may take up to 30 days to generate a thorough check which justifies why they cost a lot more than other records.

The number of applicants and the extent of the investigation also affect how long a background investigation will take. An urgent background report will also demand a higher rate.

7. Does a Background Check Violate Privacy?

The disadvantage of background checking is the increased likelihood of employment discrimination, identity theft and workplace bullying which stems from the invasion of privacy.

While it is not illegal to perform background checks, it is best to check your country or state for applicable regulations regarding its practice. In almost all cases, companies ask the applicants for their consent to undergo person background checks as part of the selection process.

Despite the few unpopular notions and the intimidating process of background investigation, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Are you a business, entrepreneur or hiring manager? Would you consider performing person background checks on your current and future employees? Let us know what you think.


Business Partner Compliance Checks

04.06.2019

Spotting Red Flags, Achieving Business Success

When you apply for a new job, the hiring officer will run a background check on. When you apply a loan from a bank, the manager will look at your credit history. When you visit another country, the immigration officer runs a derogatory check on you.

When you’re a business owner, you also need to know about business partner compliance checks.

For your business to grow, forging partnerships is imperative. Even small businesses need the services of other entities to achieve their own goals. The resulting alliance is a win-win strategy; all parties need to benefit from one another. If one or two partner fails in one aspect, the whole business will dwindle.

What is a Business Partner Compliance Check?

The term “business partner” is any commercial party with external business ties to the company. This includes, but not limited to, consortium partners, consultants, auditors, suppliers, contractors, distributors, sales agents and customers.

Can you imagine if any one of your business partners underdelivers? What if a consultant gives the wrong advice? How would you react to a supplier that provides substandard quality? Is there poor credit history among any of your partners?

For your business to thrive in a competitive world, these are valid concerns. When your partner, for instance, engages in illegal or improper conduct, you may be held liable as well. A company, whether how small or complex, needs to perform compliance screening on all its business partners.

A business partner compliance check is therefore a measure to verify compliance to all requirements as applicable by law. This concerns regulations and policies like money laundering, human trafficking and customs bribery. The extent of what laws should be followed depend on the country; the United States has The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and the United Kingdom has the UK Bribery Act, for instance.

The goal of a business partner compliance check is to protect the company from potential liabilities and negative reputation. This procedure determines a risk before it becomes an actual problem.

There is no one-size-fits-all compliance check as companies utilize their own screening procedures or hire the services of a professional firm that specializes in these checks. Most of the time, companies exceed their country’s legal requirements for business partner compliance checks.

The Concept of Due Diligence

By definition, due diligence is the process of investigating any commercial entity before a major event or milestone, such as contract signing. Although the term is heavily used in legal contexts, it is a central concept in business partner compliance checks.

Through data collection, verification, and evaluation, you will be able to identify potential risks or red flags that should bear weight in your decision-making.

As a businessman or manager, you practice due diligence by investigating every aspect of a potential business partner. From the largest consortium partner down to the last customer—every business should look into its partner’s corporate responsibility, financial performance and client feedback.

The Business Partner Compliance Check vs Other Procedures

It is worthy to note that there are other measures to investigate a business partner: the business partner background check (or company background check), and the business partner integrity check.

The “Fishy” Business Partner

So what makes a shady business partner? Once you have the results of your compliance checks, here are common red flags that you should look out for:

● History of deception, bribery, corruption, money laundering, human trafficking, terrorism and other illegal acts

● Poor feedback from co-vendors, contractors or customers

● Refusal to comply with requirements and instructions

● Close ties with government officials resulting in unnecessary recommendations

● Non-transparency in financial transactions

● Failure to provide complete and correct invoices

● Ludicrous quotation for services or demanding advance payments

● Absurd proposed outcomes that seem “too good to be true”

The Benefits of Business Partner Compliance Checks

Performing business partner compliance checks may exhaust a lot of resources, but not without benefiting the company as a whole.

The advantages include:

● Proper management of business relationships through a structured and transparent approach

● Prompt risk classification allows for identification of potential problems that may arise when working the the business partner

● Effective use of an IT application process with compliance checks ensures transparency and efficiency of the results

No matter how financially exhausting and time-consuming this process is, companies see it as a wise investment. The benefits of a compliance check far outweigh its weaknesses. Can you imagine your business suffering from a standstill, or a huge drop in sales, or angry customers—because of one business partner who failed to do their part? It’s true that it takes years to build a reputation, and only minutes to shatter it. Even when you’re still starting, make it a point to perform routine compliance checks to all your potential business partners.

There are many consulting, auditing and security firms that specialize in business partner compliance checks. The rates vary across different countries and the extent of the compliance check. Many firms will be happy to personalize it as your own tool, specifically for your company’s needs and goals.


FAQs About Criminal Record Checks

14.03.2019

A bad hire is a liability. It is a waste of resources and a threat to the organization. According to the US Department of Labor in 2003, a bad hire costs the company about 30% of the employee’s salary in the first year. Losing thousands of dollars because of a single employee is no laughing matter. The figures are overwhelming, and no business wants to suffer because of a bad hire.

Although bad hires are not 100% preventable, you can significantly lower the risk of hiring the wrong candidate through criminal record checks. By conducting this check as part of your recruitment process, you can identify the applicants with a criminal history, and move on to interview those who passed the check.

A criminal record check is the process of obtaining information on a person’s criminal history which includes warrants, convictions, and arrests. This is most commonly used by human resource managers for recruitment.

HireRight estimates that in 2017, 85% of hiring managers spot false declarations on applicant resumes. What are the odds that one applicant or two has a criminal record? Criminals are now so elusive, and those with a past troubled record can be very evasive even when they have been off the hook.

You need to know why a criminal record check is so important today, and why you should do it as part of a comprehensive selection process. Here are frequently asked questions about criminal record checks:

“Are criminal record checks and person background checks the same?”

Both checks contain information on an individual’s criminal history or absence thereof.

However, criminal record checks are more comprehensive because they focus exclusively on criminal history. If you need an overview of an applicant’s overall background such as educational qualifications, past employment, credit history, and criminal records—a regular background check will do. If your concern is on the criminal history alone, a criminal record check will provide you with the information you need to look into the individual’s previous or current offenses.

“What is the significance of criminal record checks?”

Complacency is the silent killer of business.

You may think that no person with a criminal record will ever have the guts to apply for a job, but don’t be surprised if a criminal record check on one of your applicants generates a hit for workplace theft.

Through criminal record checks, you avoid employees with convictions like violence, theft, fraud, embezzlement and substance abuse. The goal is to determine any past or present criminal record that threatens your organization and employees. You need to prevent potential losses due to worker theft, and avoid lawsuits for negligent hiring and workplace violence. A safe workplace is the best workplace.

Conducting criminal record checks also speaks a lot about your company as far as recruitment is concerned. Do you do a routine check during the selection process? Do you repeat the check when offering a promotion to a current employee? Do you conduct a check every few years or so? Hiring and maintaining employees with zero criminal history mirrors the quality of employees, increases your company’s success, promotes your brand and magnifies your revenues.

“What are the limitations of criminal record checks?”

One disadvantage of criminal record checks is that some states do not disclose all information pertaining to criminal records. California, for example, only displays the convictions and not the arrests of the individual concerned. The extent of information disclosure depends on the policies of a certain country or state.

This is why it’s recommended to employ third-party experts in criminal record checks. If your company’s legal department is unable to obtain criminal record checks, trained investigators can do so on your behalf. Not only are they knowledgeable about where to get information, but they are trained to obtain records legally. They also have access to other resources that are otherwise not available to the public.

“What can you expect from criminal record checks?”

A criminal record check is an effective tool used by investigators and security experts to make sure that you practice reasonable care and due diligence in your selection process. Criminal record checks are so thorough, that you are able to get hold of information that a regular background check may not reveal.

A typical criminal background check starts with the person’s personal details, such as the complete name, aliases, physical description (height, weight, skin color, eye color) and distinct characteristics (moles, tattoos, scars). Results reveal all these details including outstanding warrants, convictions, arrests, and prison terms.

Investigators obtain records from courts, police and law enforcement agencies. They can also get information from international agencies such as that from INTERPOL to verify international warrants.

Once you have the information at hand, then you have the confidence to make an informed decision about the applicant’s chances of getting hired.

“Do I need to conduct criminal record checks?”

Small and medium enterprises need to protect their businesses as they can be an easy target for criminals to apply, believing that criminal record checks are too costly for small business owners. Although many countries allow their own people to conduct criminal record checks on themselves, these records do not often display the details of the offense committed, if any.

For large corporations, criminal record checks should not be neglected. A bigger company entails a bigger brand to protect, and an even bigger name to carry. It only takes one bad hire to tarnish the organization’s reputation and risk the safety of all employees.

If you run a business dealing with children or seniors, or operate a trade in health care, pharmaceuticals and financing, a criminal record check is an absolute necessity.
A simple criminal or police clearance from your local government is not enough. Rather, a comprehensive investigation by a trained security provider is essential. A thorough check will provide you with information not found in state databases, such as that from academic institutions, previous employers, professional and civic organizations, and other establishments for any record of misdemeanors.

Results of criminal record checks can be analyzed with findings of pre-employment screenings, person background checks, online dating background checks, and nanny background checks to gain a deeper insight on potential employees and their relationships with other people.

The cost of criminal record checks vary, starting from roughly $100 and may increase depending on factors such as the location where records are obtained, cost of records, the extent of the check, and difficulty of the investigation.

By now, you may be contemplating how much it will cost you to perform routine criminal record checks. The cost is quite steep, especially if you are still starting—but it’s a small price to pay. What do you get in exchange for the accuracy and reliability of criminal record checks? You get the best hires for your organization.