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Potential terrorists leave fingerprints on the net

There is a possibility of stopping terrorists before they start to act. Lisa Kaati, a scientist at FOI, is developing new methods of gathering and interpreting large amounts of information from social media.

For a safer and more secure society, it pays to find potential terrorists before they strike. One way of doing this is to track individuals on the internet and on the various social media sites, weigh up a large amount of information from a range of sources and then analyse it.

Lisa Kaati is engaged in the study of analysis methods and weak signals. She works with techniques for finding connections.

- We are developing different techniques that enable us to analyse large quantities of data from social media and the internet.  These are designed to be able to assist and facilitate the work of an analyst. This work can be very useful to the police, for example, and to the security services of other countries, says Lisa Kaati.

By sifting automatically through large amounts of text and information on the internet, it is possible to find connections and relationships which can then be presented to analysts as pointers to something, or someone, of a suspicious nature. It is also possible to make use of author recognition to identify whether a number of different aliases on the internet are in fact the same person.

- We are also working on data fusion methods and techniques to make it possible for several analysts to work together in a coordinated way to merge information to form a unified picture. In this way it is possible to weigh up information from a variety of sources over a long period of time, so increasing the possibility of being able to identify potential terrorists acting alone, adds Lisa Kaati.

At a conference held at FOI on 21 November, Lisa Kaati and her colleagues Fredrik Johansson, Christian Mårtenson, Andreas Horndahl and Pontus Svenson told a capacity audience how it is possible to identify weak signals in large amounts of information.

The theme for the day was social media and criminality. Other speakers included Helene Lööw, a historian from Uppsala university, Christian Fuchs, professor of Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala university and Professor Bo Wennström from the Faculty of Law at Uppsala university.

FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence Research Agency
SE-164 90 Stockholm

Phone +46 8 555 030 00
Fax +46 8 555 031 00

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