Revelations last week that the National Security Agency on Sept. 10 intercepted two cryptic messages in Arabic that referred to a major event for the next day--but failed to process them until Sept. 12--raises questions about whether American intelligence agencies have the technology and the mind-set to quickly prioritize and analyze gigabytes of data collected daily. The NSA is known for deploying state-of-the-art IT systems to capture and analyze data. But translating captured messages into English requires human involvement.
"Current technology isn't trusted yet," says Gary Strong, program director for bio-informatics at the National Science Foundation. Furthermore, intelligence analysts need to recognize the significance of the cryptic communications. People familiar with NSA's analytical technologies say that even if the messages were translated on Sept. 10, it's unlikely the analysts would have been able to envisage suicide air strikes.
5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.