Countering Cyber Terrorism through Internet Media

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8650-10-M-6100
Agency Tracking Number: F093-033-0267
Amount: $99,986.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: AF093-033
Solicitation Number: 2009.3
Small Business Information
303 Bear Hill Road, Waltham, MA, 02451
DUNS: 004627316
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Andrew DeCarlo
 Project Engineer
 (781) 890-1338
Business Contact
 Stephen Mattox
Title: Director, Finance & Contracts
Phone: (781) 890-1338
Research Institution
Terrorists use a variety of messages, as well as a variety of communications media, to sway impressionable people to their viewpoint. The internet is a very effective emerging medium by which terrorists can spread their ideology. The internet allows propaganda to be disseminated in the form of blog posts, open forums, and multimedia content such as videos. Although the communication models used in propaganda are well-studied, measures of effectiveness relating to the internet have yet to be fully explored. IST proposes an innovative tool for Measuring Online Use of Social Exchanges for Terrorist Recruiting and Action Propaganda (MOUSETRAP). MOUSETRAP integrates Middle Eastern cultural and communication models into social interaction analysis for measuring the effectiveness of terrorist recruiting and propaganda dissemination. The social network metrics are tailored for analyzing the activity on a blog or forum in order to identify roles of the participants, such as leaders, recruiters, and impressionable individuals. The metrics are calculated with respect to a given social context or corpus, such as religious doctrine, fear, or culture warfare, thus being able to integrate easily into culturally-specific communication models. BENEFIT: Our metrics are designed specifically for analyzing activity on forums and blogs, and are better-suited than metrics for peer-to-peer social networks. These metrics are part of an IST-proprietary network metric testbed, which is specially suited for identifying leadership roles in a network under a specific social context. The social contexts allow the network metrics to be calculated for a variety of communication models, based on cultural and propaganda content. This set of communications models is designed with several specific Middle Eastern cultures in mind, rather than Western assumptions about Middle Eastern cultures. Our interdisciplinary team has well-established expertise in mathematics, psychology, social network analysis, cultural modeling, terror prediction, and identifying militant activity via the internet. One key military application is a stand-alone application service for use by intelligence analysts and psyoppers in the DoD and across the intelligence community. The analysts can use MOUSETRAP to detect terrorist propaganda and identify cyber-recruiters, so that the propaganda dissemination can be disrupted and countered.. A related law enforcement application can identify leaders of criminal syndicates and detect illegal activity online. A potential commercial application is in target marketing, where an extension of MOUSETRAP can identify groups of individuals receptive to a good or service, as well as individuals who are specially-suited for word-of-mouth advertising.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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