Document 186583

"How to Build a Basic Information Network"
Copyright © 2005 by Chuck Harold
(Links Updated May 2008)
Like most security experts you realize how important it is these days to be plugged-in to the
information superhighway. In your quest for infinite knowledge perhaps you have sought the
wisdom of the good people in your IT department only to be told they were too busy with their
own job to really focus on your needs. You have asked your bosses for guidance but they are
too technologically challenged to understand the difference between an ISP and the PSI in their
golf cart tires.
Building a traditional server side intelligence network that can automatically push critical
information and alerts to you in real time can be a daunting concept, one large in scope and
extremely costly. Few have the resources to build an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient
CSI Hollywood computer where with a few simple keystrokes you can instantly learn the
identity of your company’s equivalent to Professor Moriarty.
Before your journey down the information superhighway takes a wrong turn into a cul-de-sac,
consider building your own non-traditional yet resilient information network. Utilizing
emerging technology, three basic steps, a few bucks and some resources you probably already
have at your disposal, I will demonstrate how you can get hooked-up, dialed-in and hard-wired
to a variety of useful information resources.
Step #1
Establish Redundant Communications
Nothing is more important than a properly configured communication system. It is the
foundation of any effective security or crisis management system.
You may already have adequate communications for day to day operations but for this exercise
let’s assume all company phone lines, e-mail and internet connections are down. Now what do
you do?
Do you have redundancy build into your communications system that will allow you to keep
your information superhighway up and running when other systems have failed?
Do you have a modern day equivalent of two tin cans and a wire?
Here are some ways to beef up your current communications system and keep you constantly
in the information loop.
Laptops
http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/home.asp
http://www.ruggednotebooks.com/
Your organization should have at least one disaster resistant laptop. Panasonic and Rugged
both make laptops that can survive high impacts, extreme heat and cold, water, dirt, etc. Use
this laptop to back-up your critical operational files so when the desktop network is down, you
have the ability to continue operations and start recovery. Equally important, laptops can
provide you with a reliable portal to the outside world but to do so they must be configured
with simultaneous access to wireless WAN, wireless LAN, BluetoothTM and GPS. Add a
satellite wireless card and you could be connected almost anywhere in the world. One more
thing, take your laptop home with you every night, that’s why they call it portable.
Groove
http://www.groove.net
Use Groove to build your own private worldwide network. Groove (bought a few years ago by
Microsoft) is an encrypted peer-to-peer application. That means there is no centralized network
server to compromise. Think of Groove as an instant messenger program on steroids. It
securely connects you directly with any Groove enabled computer anywhere in the world. Let’s
say you have sensitive information you would like to share with a vendor across the country.
Hook up both computers with Groove and the files are shared within seconds. Another handy
feature is the voice-over IP. If your phone system is down or if you just want a secure
conversation with no phone bill, hook up a headset and speak with anyone anywhere in the
world that is using Groove. This feature also comes in handy for training groups of people that
are spread out across a large geographic region. Groove creates a common computer work
space where everyone in the group from two to two hundred, can chat and exchange
information in real time. What if the person you want to connect with does not have Groove?
No problem, Groove will send them an e-mail invitation so they can download Groove off the
web and be up and running in about ten minutes. Post 9-11 many state and federal law
enforcement officials started using Groove because it allowed them to cut through the red tape
and communicate across agencies in a secure environment. This program is a must have for
anyone serious about establishing secure reliable communications.
Bluetooth
http://www.bluetooth.com/
Named after the Danish King, Harrald Blatand (aka Bluetooth) who united Scandinavia,
Bluetooth can unite your electronic devices. Also referred to as a PAN (Personal Area
Network) it is a wireless technology that allows you to connect with multiple compatible
devices such as cell phones, laptops, printers, etc. Let’s say you need to evacuate your high-rise
building. First responders such as police and fire arrive and ask you who is inside. Your
perfectly configured Bluetooth laptop, (see directions above) contains a list of employees
trapped between the 10th and 15th floors. If the police and firefighters have Bluetooth enabled
electronic devices and are within 30 feet of your laptop, you can automatically transfer the
evacuation list to their devices simultaneously. About 30% of the cell phones sold in 2004 had
Bluetooth, by 2007 the number is predicted to rise to 70%. Jump on the bandwagon, get
Bluetooth and be ahead of the curve.
LINKEDIN
http://www.linkedin.com
The "About LinkIn" page sums it up nicely "LinkedIn is an online network of more than 20
million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries." Sound
it little boring doesn't it? NOT! LinkedIn proves that we really are only a few people away
from knowing everyone in the world. For example, I have 222 "trusted friends and colleagues"
in the first degree of my network. Those 222 people "Friends of friends; each connected to one
of your connections" collectively knows 15,600+ people. Here the really cool part. Through
everyone in my network, "Three degrees away" I can reach 1,549,800 users through a friend
and one of my friends." Features include a place to post your "profile" See mine here, post and
receive public recommendations, job boards, expert Q & A, and a "recommended" service
provider listing. The service basic is free and you can pay about $50 per month for some extras
like the ability to get introduced to people you don't know first person, be they prospected
employers or possible stalkers. This network grows exponentially. Last week, in one day I have
an average of 20,000 join my network. think of it as a non flashy version of my space for
adults. This service is a must have.
PLAXO
http://www.plaxo.com/about
Plaxo, a free service, started out a sophisticated an on-line address book and is becoming a very
good networking tool. It automatically keeps track of and synchronizes the address book and
calendar on your computer with a copy on the Plaxo network. With one click of the mouse,
Plaxo will send everyone in your address book an e-mail asking to verify their current
information. If you or another Plaxo member changes your personal contact information such
as your e-mail or phone number, Plaxo will automatically send updates to everyone in your
address book. There are 5 million customers in Plaxo who generate over one billion
connections. Pay the small fee for the premium service, it is worth the money.
Cell Phones
http://www.thewirelesswizard.com/
Throw away that cheap cell phone and buy one that is web, e-mail, text-IM messaging and
BlueToothTM enabled. During normal business operations these phones offer redundant forms
of communicating with your network, staff and outside contacts. During emergency operations
you will need the redundancy in case one system fails. The text messaging, e-mail and two-way
radios on many new cell phones utilize different networks. If one line is down the others may
be up and running. Higher end cell phones also have their own e-mail address that utilizes the
cell phone number and a different network for distribution. This can come in very handy when
other networks are down. For everything you need to know about wireless applications, visit
my friend Scot at www.thewirelesswizard.com
Satellite Phones
http://www.iridium.com
http://www.thuraya.com
http://www.globalstar.com/en
You say you don't need a satellite phone these days because everyone has a cell phone.
Baloney! The first cell phone I bought in 1988 was far superior in quality and coverage than
the modern versions. If your serious about redundancy every security department should have
at least one satellite phone. Why share your cell phone network with several million others
during an emergency. Prices are only slightly more than traditional cell phones and when you
need one, it will be worth its weight in gold.
OnStar
http://www.onstar.com
OnStar is a reasonably priced vehicle based communication system offered by General Motors.
It uses various existing wireless phone networks in the United States and Canada along with an
excellent GPS system. Service coverage is not guaranteed however. If your handheld cell
phone is down OnStar and the satellite coverage offers you additional communication options.
I have had On-Star in both my vehicles and I love it. Several other car companies also use
OnStar such as Acura, Audi, Isuzu and Volkswagen.
Payphones
Identify payphones in and around your areas of responsibility and create a distribution list of
calling numbers. Pay phones are often good old fashion analog and self powered so in the event
your high tech, AC/DC digital phone system goes down due to a power outage, you may have a
pre-existing back-up phone system ready to go. Don’t forget to keep a can of quarters handy.
Web Mail
If your network or VPN connection goes down (and it will) you could be flying blind. If it goes
down in the middle of a crisis you have a big problem. As a back-up to your network e-mail,
use Yahoo, Hotmail or other free web based e-mail services that can be accessed from any
computer anywhere in the world. Configure your information systems to push alerts to your
web mail then configure your web mail to push information to your handheld device such as a
Blackberry. Use easy to remember addresses so in time of crisis no one has to search for a list;
example: [email protected]
Blogs
Consider establishing a department blog outside your network where employees can exchange
information or discuss plans. Having it outside your network allows you access from any
system should your be down during a crisis.
Virtual Crisis Management
If a major incident occurs while you and your staff are away from the office, do you have
efficient means to manage the situation from a remote location? Are you able to get in touch
with critical players separated by time and distance? If the answer is no, then you need a virtual
crisis management tool. There are several products on the market. Here are two good ones:
NC4- The National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination
http://www.nc4.us/nc4/index.php
NC4 is an organization that monitors thousands of incident information sources nationwide
then generates geographically relevant alerts. Say there is a major fire down the street from
your office that will affect traffic in your area. NC4 will send you an e-mail. You can then log
into their site and get more information in the form of maps, photos, news, etc. If there are
people in your business community that have similar interests, you can create secure groups
and discussion forums to share pertinent information. Through a web interface, their NC4 has
the ability to link you directly with participating business and government contacts to
effectively manage critical incidents. NC4 users have also established local meeting chapters,
another good resource of information
VIMs - Virtual Incident Management System by Control Risks Group
http://www.crg.com and http://www.control-risks.com
It is the weekend and you are at home when a terrorist incident hits your business
neighborhood. One of your managers is on vacation in Ireland. The company CEO is at a
business conference in China. No problem, Control Risks Group can log into your web based
VIMs system and start managing the situation for you. They can start an incident log and send
out alerts to you, your manager and your CEO. You can then all log in to your secure VIMs
web page and begin managing the incident on-line in real time before you arrive at the office.
Once you arrive at work you then take over the incident management and bring all your
additional resources into one virtual work space. VIMs allows you to assign tasks, track
progress, share data in real time and save it all in one place so you have a record of how you
responded. Think of VIMs as a virtual EOC. Control Risks Group is a world wide business risk
management consultancy that has been around since 1975. They have worked for clients in
over 130 countries and are headquartered in London, England. For more information e-mail
[email protected]
Back-up Power
http://www.icpsolar.com/
All these fancy electronic devices you are using for redundant communication require power.
How can you keep them up and running in the event of a power outage? Check out the iSun
device from ICP Solar Technologies. This portable device comes with several plug-in
accessories to match almost any cell phone or small electronics device on the market. They
also have larger solar panels that take the place of old-fashion bulky UPS batteries and can
provide up to 300 watts of power.
Step #2
Establish Redundant Sources of Information
Once you have set up a robust and redundant communications system, you need to connect it to
multiple data streams and have information flowing into your organization 24/7.
The following are some ideas and internet links to help you get hooked up.
Utilize a Variety of People as Information Resources
The loading dock clerk, the director of HR, your supply vendor, what knowledge do they
possess that could be useful to you? Start thinking of the people around you as information
resources, living and breathing libraries, each with some unique piece of information. They
may possess significant knowledge or information that you never before considered useful. For
example, enlist the loading dock clerk to send you copies of his delivery logs. Someday the
logs could contain information about unauthorized visitors.
Diversify Your Law Enforcement Contacts
Develop a list of law enforcement contacts that you can rely upon for consistent help and
information. Seek out specialized law enforcement experts in your area. The local police
department, F.B.I. and Joint Terrorism Task Forces are traditional choices, but consider other
agencies as well. For example, besides counterfeiting and protection of the president, the
United States Secret Service also performs most of the same law enforcement functions as the
F.B.I. Under California Penal Code § 830.3, persons employed by the Division of Investigation
of the Department of Consumer Affairs are considered peace officers. If you have a suspect
that stole your property then shipped it through the mail, instead of the local police, call upon
the United States Postal Inspectors. They are an excellent agency and will aggressively go after
anyone that uses the mail for illegal purposes.
Leverage Private Organization Contacts
Join and become active in several private organizations relating to your business and maintain
contacts lists (using Plaxo.com and linkedin.com) from these sources. Combining various
chains of information from different organizations increases your information reach.
Subscribe to Print News Services
Does anyone still read real newspapers? They should, newspapers tend to have more in-depth
coverage of events than TV or the internet. Consider subscribing to several old-fashion print
versions even some outside your geographic area. Get to know a local reporter. They have
excellent research contacts.
Utilize Multiple Television News Services
First, pre-program your complicated remote control so you can easily find your favorite news
channel when you need it fast. If you have satellite or cable, consider paying for redundant
signal sources such as analog, digital and satellite versions of the same channel, that way if one
of the signals is compromised you may be able to get another feed. Also consider paying for
the TV signal outside your time zone. A news feed or informative programming from New
York may come in handy in Los Angeles.
Subscribe to Multiple Internet News Services Using RSS Feeds
"Really Simple Syndication" is a format for gathering and distributing content from multiple
sources across the Web. Newspapers, magazines, and blogs can all be "pushed" to you wherein
only a few years ago you needed to actively seek out and read several different sources. now it
all comes to you.
Even if the sources do not have an RSS feed, use the old fashion method and configure your
internet browser with useful links to several internet news services. Choose several national
and international sites to achieve a variety of information and perspectives. Many internet sites
are updated quickly as news breaks. Here are some you can start with that I have found have
the most accurate and up to the minute information.
http://www.yahoo.com
Yahoo News is easy to navigate, up to date and has some powerful features such as an
excellent RSS. For example, you can research almost any news story by searching Yahoo
News, All News, Photos, and Audio/Video files. You can search in any of thirty five different
languages. Yahoo is a good solid source.
http://www.newsisfree.com
But the service isn’t exactly free; Search the news from thousands of sources, updated every 15
minutes. You can get good results with the free version but pay a small fee and get the
upgraded version, it is worth it.
http://www.albawaba.com
News from the Middle East in English. I have found a few stories here that were not on the
other wire services.
http://english.people.com.cn
People’s Daily On-line is a Chinese news service. For some reason they often get the inside
scoop on a lot of news stories before everyone else.
http://www.thesmokinggun.com
If there is a story that people are not suppose to know about, they might have it.
http://www.worldpress.org
News and Views From Around the World.
http://www.iht.com/pages/index.html
International Herald Tribune - Easy to use navigation map that allows you to jump right into
the news of the continent you are interested in.
Utilize free internet research services: There are plenty of excellent free research websites out
there. Here are a few examples broken down by topic.
People Research:
http://zabasearch.com
This site has free public records information that will give you a name and address. Until
recently you could find many high profile people in here for free. Now they are starting to
charge for these “premium” type searches.
http://www.searchbug.com
A good search directory because it has links to many other locate services such as e-mail
address verification, location by IP address, area code lookup, ZIP code lookup, reverse phone
searches, etc. Some are free and some cost money.
Places Research:
http://earth.google.com
A sort of scary service from Google. First, download a free program to operate the service then
click on the icon. A real photo of the world will appear from outer space. Type in a home or
business address anywhere in the world and the program will literally fly to your address and
give you a picture of the location from 3,000 feet above the earth. Then you can filter the
search to show public infrastructure, 3-D buildings for major cities, waterways, schools, roads,
restaurants, driving directions, etc. They are now adding street level virtual drive bys of your
street using actual photos. Yikes! It is very useful to good and bad guys alike.
General Information Research:
http://www.archive.org
Browse through 30 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. Their mission:
To create a comprehensive archive of the internet, an Internet Library so to speak. Using their
“WayBackMachine” (Peabody and Sherman) you are likely to find old URL’s (websites) that
have long been disconnected from the internet. Very cool site.
http://www.lesko.com
Don’t let his funny suit and sales pitch scare you, Mathew Lesko is the master of information
resources. I’ve been using his books for 20 years. Long before the internet was king, he had
books full of lists that today still rival most computer databases.
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/
Their website can say it better than I can:
“The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and
library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive
collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its
budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.”
Terrorism Research:
http://www.osac.gov
The Overseas Security Advisory Council. One thing I like about this site is they have excellent
canned reports in Adobe .PDF and PowerPoint formats that can be downloaded for free and
used for training.
http://www.start.umd.edu/data/gtd/
The Global Terrorism Database, is hosted by START, The National Consortium for the Study
of Terrorism & Responses to Terrorism, a Center of Excellence of the Department of
Homeland Security Based at the University of Maryland. (That's the whole title, really) Just
call it the GTB. It is a great tool! You can search for Groups, Incidents, Countries, Leaders and
Members, Legal Cases and Legal Documents. Mapping allows you to do a quick incident
search by selecting a geographic region. Click on the United States and you will find 37
terrorist groups. 4 in Canada. Japan has 5 groups, England 6, France 20, and China 1. Traveling
to Mexico City? Click on the map and the database lists 20 terrorist incidents since 1973. The
site also allows you to search for specific types of incidents that have no responsible party
association. There are graphs, pie charts and 3D reporting models and their database design is
an excellent model for data gathering and analysis.
http://www.adl.org/learn/default.htm
The Anti-Defamation League Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network provides an
outstanding monthly e-mail with the latest on domestic terrorism and hate groups.
Language Research:
http://www.onelook.com
The Google of dictionary searches. Type in a word or phrase and Onelook searches dozens of
dictionary and translation links worldwide.
http://www.word2word.com/free.html
Free on-line translation services for converting that foreign newspaper article.
Computer and Internet Research:
To find out who owns that SPAM, threatening e-mail or website consider the following links.
http://www.arin.net/
ARIN, the American Registry for Internet Numbers. This will tell you who owns a certain
website.
http://www.ripe.net/
RIPE Network Coordination Center - Europe's version of ARIN
http://www.apnic.net/
Asia Pacific Information Network Center - Asia's version of ARIN
http://network-tools.com/
Trace an e-mail, ping a machine, look-up a DNS, free from the comfort of your desk. Very
easy to use and comes in handy when trying to verify those annoying virus e-mails.
http://www.geobytes.com/traceroutelocator.htm?GetLocation#MessagePath
Another free trace route locator service. This one provides you with maps as well as longitude
and latitude for you GPS fans.
http://www.dnsstuff.com/
This is my favorite because it does all of the IP searches above in one place.
Legal Research:
FindLaw.com
http://findlaw.com/
Has links to laws in all fifty states, federal law and international law so you can see if that
stalker from Transylvania is really breaking the law in his country. Also has links for legal
articles worldwide, a good resource. Very interesting stuff.
The Law Guru
http://www.lawguru.com/index.html
Similar to findlaw.com plus it has some fun stuff like the "weird Law" section. For example in
California, women may not drive in a house coat, and my favorite, it is a misdemeanor to shoot
at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale. Only in California
folks.
The Library of Congress THOMAS
http://thomas.loc.gov/
To explain this site it is easiest to let the government do it in their own words: “Acting under
the directive of the leadership of the 104th Congress to make Federal legislative information
freely available to the Internet public, a Library of Congress team brought the THOMAS
World Wide Web system online in January 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress.”
Health Research:
The World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/wer/en
The World Heath Organization is the United Nations site for world health. Some links have an
e-mail subscription service that can push you outbreak information. Useful for advising your
employees about health hazards prior to traveling.
If You Have the Money, Subscribe to Paid Internet Services
Pick a subscription service where you can get in and dig for specific information that is
relevant to your organization. Make sure your subscription allows you to access the service
from a PC outside your company computer network such as your home computer or laptop so
if your network is down you have an alternative means of access.
Some of these paid services are a little expensive, but to control costs you may pick and choose
what services you want depending on your budget. Start with the on-line intelligence services.
They provide the most value for your money.
Intelligence & Travel Services:
Control Risks Group
http://www.crg.com
My favorite!
Air Security International
http://www.airsecurity.com
iJet Intelligent Risk Systems
http://www.ijet.com
These are the big three private intelligence and travel information providers. Think of them as
your own private CIA or MI-5. I have used all three over the years and they are all very good,
however, Control Risks Group is my favorite and to me the most useful if you live in the
United States. Since they are not American like the other two services, they offer a slightly
different perspective on world events that I always found useful for analysis. Or perhaps i jst
liked the British accents.
Some of the core services offered by all three include:
• Risk Management Consulting
• Daily and timely briefings of political, health, security, travel and economic information from
countries
around the world
• On-line worldwide country and city risk assessments and reports
• Electronic tracking of employees while traveling
• 24 hour live information call centers where you can get in depth advice form a real person
• Risk assessment maps of the world
• Free daily e-mail information briefings
• Automatic pushing of subscriber information through electronic systems
SRA International and the Orion Center for Homeland Security
http://www.sra.com/services/index.asp?id=583
They have a product called the Orion CT Portal. It is comprised of approximately 100
gigabytes of public source terrorism and other related data. Information is collected from
sources around the world, including the AP wire feed, the Foreign Broadcast Information
Service (FBIS), Reuters, Lexis/Nexis, government sites, radical websites, and the Internet. You
can define specific key word searches within the system and the program will constantly comb
the internet and the Orion internal database looking for matches. That information is then
posted in real time for you to search and analyze. The service also provides canned reports on a
variety of terrorism related subjects. Mostly used by government and law enforcement
agencies, it is slowly becoming available to corporations.
Media Research:
MyWire.com
http://www.mywire.com/
Formerly know under www.keepmedia.com, this is a great inexpensive research service that
provides unlimited access to over 324 publications dating back 12 years. It has three storage
and retrieval features: My History: Allows you to view links to the articles you have already
viewed, sorted in a variety of ways. My Kept Articles: Allows you to store the articles you
have already viewed and save them sorted in a variety of ways. My Suggested Articles: The
service conducts automatic searches for additional similar material based upon the articles you
have already read and has them ready for you to read when you sign on. It saves you a lot of
research time. This is one of the most user friendly and useful services I have encountered.
ProQuest
http://proquest.com
ProQuest is the granddaddy of on-line information services. They have been in business for
many many years under different owners and started when microfiche was the latest
technology. Their main product is Proquest 5000: One of the most comprehensive digital
databases in the world. It includes in-depth coverage of more than 7,400 publications, and
millions of complete articles are available online in various formats. Some newspaper articles
for example go back to the 1800’s. Great service but it costs a few bucks. It is worth it if you
have the budget and need. They offer a free trail service.
People and Address Research:
Stamps.com
http://stamps.com
You may recognize them as an online postage service. But what you may not realize is their
service is linked to the U.S. Postal Service address directory. When you enter an address to
print a stamp, the service checks the information against the USPS address database. If the
address is good, you get a stamp. If the address is bad, no stamp, and you will then realize that
the person you are looking for may have provided an incorrect address. It’s a good round-about
way to verify and match people with addresses especially in fraud cases. It is really
inexpensive, the price of a postage stamp.
Classmates.com
http://classmates.com
As the baby boomer population ages and becomes nostalgic, more and more people are joining
Classmates.com. Here you may find that former employee you need to testify in a lawsuit or
you could use it to verify an employee’s background. I recently had an employee that listed
schools on their application different from those they listed on Classmates.com. That was an
interesting conversation. Classmates.com recently added a business to business alumni service.
Type in a company name and you will find past and present employees that have joined
business groups. To access multiple groups you will have to build a profile and belong to each
group separately. Easy enough to do but you may need more than one e-mail address. For a
small fee you can get the deluxe service that allows you deeper levels of information and the
ability to contact people through a blind e-mail service.
Islandnet.com
http://www.islandnet.com/~luree/fanmail.html
Ever wonder how that stalker found out where that celebrity or public figure lives? Do you
need to reach a public figure or check to see if your CEO is listed in public records? This may
be the site you are looking for. It is a pay service that has what they say they have.
Choice Point
http://www.choicepoint.com/
The gold standard in public record searches. FCRA compliant. Fees are based upon per record
searched and are very reasonable, $10 to $25 for most records.
Step #3
Connect the Dots With Some Easy To Use Data Mining Software
Now that you have established redundant communication systems and set up multiple streams
of incoming data, how can you save and analyze an overwhelming amount of information?
Customized, relational databases using SQL programming are clearly the best method to
properly analyze information. But developing such systems require experienced programmers
and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop. While you are waiting several years for
your budget to get approved, consider storing your information in formats you probably
already have at your disposal.
The entire Microsoft Office suite, (Word, Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Project)
should be part of your information processing arsenal. Each program provides a unique way to
store and retrieve information in multiple useful formats. Access is an excellent relational
database program that the average employee can learn fairly quickly and if you know what you
are doing you can create some powerful analysis queries.
Here are three more applications that will bring the entire information management process
together and get you speeding down the information superhighway.
SRA Orion Magic
http://www.orionmagic.com/demo.htm
SRA Orion Magic is a must have for anyone serious about processing and analyzing large
volumes of dissimilar information. Law enforcement has solved many high profile cases using
this software. Their website says it best: “enable the entire knowledge management process
from collection to search to analysis to reporting.” With Magic you can cut, paste, categorize,
save and index data from almost any digital source, then carve through and analyze gigabits of
data in a few seconds using easy to formulate queries. It is not a relational database but it is the
next best thing. Think of it as a super sophisticated internet browser that allows you to search
for thousands of words, terms or concepts simultaneously. All thumbs when it comes to
computers? Not to worry, Orion Magic was developed specifically for you. It is very powerful
yet easy to use.
Copernic
http://www.copernic.com
Copernic offers an excellent suite of software that helps you manage large volumes of data.
Their three big products are:
Copernic Agent Professional
This program takes your basic browser engine then adds steroids, a virtual secretary and
nuclear power. Your web searches will yield many more results and be easier to sort and
analyze.
Copernic Summarizer
This is a cool program. It can take “Harry Potter” and break it down into key concepts and
relevant sentences. Tell it to list only nouns and verbs and you can get to the point quickly then
work backwards to find the details. Of course our brains can do that too just in case you forgot.
Copernic Tracker
Monitors web pages then notifies you when they change by sending you an e-mail or desktop
alert.
Adobe Acrobat
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/main.html
Is there anyone left besides my 95 year old grandmother that has never heard of Adobe?
Maybe, so I need to mention it. We have all received and read Adobe .PDF (Portable Data
Files) but have you ever created one yourself? Install Acrobat, print a file then choose Acrobat
as you printer. The program will create a digital image of the document in a format you can
save and send in both secure and non-secure formats. SRA Orion Magic can not search on the
words you can see in Acrobat, but to get around that you can select the document “properties”
tab and fill in key search words to describe the document.
***
So that’s all there is too it. Beef up your communications, hook up a few dozen internet
services, use some slick data mining software and you’ll have all the basics you need for a
simple and relatively inexpensive information network.
Now if you can just figure out a way to explain all this to your technologically challenged boss
who thinks the e in e-mail stands for “easy”, you’ll be all set. Good hunting!
Copyright © 2005 by Chuck Harold - For reprint permissions please contact Chuck Harold