Raytheon Riot: Secret, Security Search Tech, Patent Filed, Video Here

Written by Tom Ewing

The UK Guardian obtained video from a Raytheon executive explaining its RIOT “search for spies” tech. It triangulates deep information. Here’s how it works.

aNewDomain.net — Imagine a Google for espionage. Why imagine? It was only a matter of time — and here it is. According to reports and our search on the patent databases, global security firm Raytheon has software — it’s called RIOT –  that operates as a search engine for espionage and national defense purposes. Raytheon has been sharing it with the U.S. government and other industries, a representative told the UK Guardian, adding that it has not yet sold or licensed the tech.

aNewDomain.net found the patent it has applied for that describes the system. Find that here.  Excerpt of it below the fold. Update: June 6, 2013, news has broken re an NSA run program called PRISM, which data mines from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple and others — personal data such as video, photos, email and so on are going directly through this program. See the leaked slides explaining Prism here.

The UK Guardian says it obtained video of Raytheon investigator Brian Urch showing the system off. In it, Urch explains how the so-called Rapid Information Overlay Technology (RIOT) software employs social networks. These images typically hold location info — latitude and longitude details – details smartphones and tablets embed automatically within their exif header data.

Riot analyzes the exif header data, checking out the photo metadata, location data and other information, too. And that’s not all. Scroll below the fold to see what other information RIOT purportedly obtains and triangulates about individuals and what privacy advocates think.

Here’s the video:

RIOT was secretly developed by the top five defense contractor to tracking people  movements and predict what they might do next, primarily by mining data from social net sites. It’s an “extreme-scale-analytics” system. According to Raytheon, the firm aimed to build a national security system that could analyze “trillions of entities” from cyberspace.

The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance not only interests intelligence and national security agencies. It’s sparking civil liberties and privacy advocate alarm, too.

Just watch the video. It demonstrates tech showing how Riot lets an investigator get a fairly complete glimpse of an individual’s life — friends, places visited — using a fairly sophisticated and quite rapid interface.

For instance, Riot will display on a spider diagram the associations and relationships between individuals online by looking at who they RT or DM on Twitter, mines Facebook data, sifts GPS info from Foursquare, and more.

In the video above, the Raytheon exec showing how he is tracking employee “Nick” underlines the importance of that GPS data. He notes that Nick, who uses Foursquare, visits a gym early each morning.  “So if you ever did want to try to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop,” says the Raytheon exec in the video demo above of RIOT, “you might want to visit the gym at 6 a.m. on a Monday.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Raytheon patent application:

A method for assessing a person’s security risk includes receiving data from a plurality of disparate data sources in which at least two of the plurality of disparate data sources maintain their respective data in different manners. The method also includes identifying at least one item of data from at least two different data sources that correspond to a first real-world person. The method further includes merging the items from the at least two different data sources into a first record associated with the first real-world person. The method additionally includes identifying one or more relationships between the first real-world person and one or more other real-world people. The method also includes adding the identified one or more relationships to the first record associated with the first real-world person. The method further includes determining a level of risk associated with the first real-world person based on the first record.

In the UK Guardian, Ginger McCall of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Centre said the video should sound alarm bells.

“Social networking sites are often not transparent about what information is shared and how it is shared,” McCall said. “Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead, it is being viewed by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search.”

Raytheon, which made sales worth an estimated $25B in 2012, did not want its Riot demonstration video to be revealed on the grounds that it says it shows a “proof of concept” product that has not been sold to any clients.

Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems department, told the UK Guardian:

Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into usable information … to help meet our nation’s rapidly changing security needs.

Raytheon has applied for a US patent on the system, an excerpt of which is above.

According to the UK Guardian, Raytheon Riot is on the list of showcase software at a US government and industry national security conference scheduled for April for secretive, classified innovations, “where it was listed under the category “big data – analytics, algorithms.”


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