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The Conundrum of Two Intelligences!

By Anton Chuvakin | January 15, 2014 | 3 Comments

threat intelligencesecurityphilosophy

I got it! I think I understood why so many security discussions around the topic of “intelligence” (be it the clearer “threat intelligence” or dramatically confusing “security intelligence”) go so awry so quickly.

Compare these two quotes:

  1. “Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not intelligence, intelligence is not wisdom.” (uses this definition)
  2. “The National Security Agency (NSA) is the main producer and manager of signals intelligence (SIGINT) for the United States.” (uses this definition)

Hilarity ensues when two infosec professionals engage in a heated discussion about intelligence, one using #1 concept and the other using the #2. Just think about it and imagine (or, more likely, recall) the conversation that went like this:

A: “We want intelligence-based security!” (thinking that of better quality information and decisions)

B: “What are you talking about? We won’t create our own TAO team here; we just want to be secure” (thinking of the NSA)

A: “Don’t you want to be more intelligent in what you do?”

B: “Well, yes. But we don’t need an intelligence agency to protect our secrets…”

and so on…

So, the lesson here is CLARITY!!!

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  • Matt says:

    People and organisations need to make sense of what’s going on around them in order to maintain or improve the position they represent. The processes used to undertake this are very dependent on the environment whether it’s military, civilian, IT, team sports etc etc. This ‘making sense’ is intelligence and it’s less about being good at what you do (that helps) and more about knowing who your opponents are, their capabilities and goals and their elected methods.

    The alternative is to bury your head in the sand and then wonder why you just got turned over.

  • @Matt Thanks for the comment.

    That is a very useful way to put it: intelligence = making sense (vs the fave pastime of many orgs – BUYING BOXES)

    >bury your head in the sand and then wonder why you just got turned over.

    This obviously made my day 🙂