THE MAGAZINE

Intelligence Support Systems: Technologies for Lawful Intercepts

By G. Ernest Govea, CPP

 

***** Intelligence Support Systems: Technologies for Lawful Intercepts. By Paul Hoffmann and Kornel Terplan; published by Auerbach Publications, www.crcpress.com (Web); 463 pages; $90.

Wiretapping is hot. It’s one of the key tools in the war on terror, and like most of those tools, it’s controversial. Intelligence Support Systems avoids most of the policy debate on wiretaps, otherwise known as legal intercepts, instead focusing on technological, administrative, managerial, legal, and logistical aspects.

According to authors Paul Hoffmann and Kornel Terplan, communications have been subject to intercept since Alexander Graham Bell invented his “electrical speech machine.” Every mode of communication since then, involving wires, wireless, fiber, microwave, infrared, satellite, cellular, laptop, PDA, instant messaging, voice over IP, and so on, have been fair game. Any data traveling in packets can be identified, processed, routed, replicated, encapsulated, and delivered in real time to law enforcement monitoring centers.

Monitoring centers manage data warehouses where information is stored, analyzed, and cataloged for future strategic surveillance. These centers also contain voice banks, voice samples that can be compared against newly captured voices for comparison and positive identification. Geographical information systems are able to locate both fixed addresses and mobile locations.

Recent laws require telephone service providers (TSPs) and Internet service providers (ISPs) to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in providing lawful intercepts. Law enforcement, TSPs, and manufacturers of communication equipment have also collaborated to create wiretapping systems that are mammoth, highly sophisticated, highly effective, encrypted, and undetectable. The United States cooperates with foreign governments that use similar systems.

Some hardware and software is developed exclusively for wiretapping. New architectures are so sophisticated that they are on the cutting edge of networking.

Through narratives and diagrams, the reader learns that intercept access points can be virtually anywhere in a network, either near or far from a target. Intercept solutions seem virtually limitless, and their adaptability to technological changes is uncanny.

While the subject matter is fascinating, the book is slow going, laden with new acronyms to learn. At times it reads like a technical manual. The average citizen, and perhaps average security practitioner, would find it too sterile, dry, and technical. It is, however, a good resource for law enforcement, ISPs, and TSPs.

Reviewer: G. Ernest Govea, CPP, is the facility security officer and security director for the corporate and engineering offices of Parsons in Pasadena, California. He has been responsible for the protection of classified information for 27 years with the military and the defense contractor community. He is a member of ASIS International.

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