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Something Every Security Professional Should Know: The Intelligence Cycle

By Mark Dodge

This article is part of our series on Security Space Essentials and how Kaseware supports them.

Threat Intelligence

The “Intelligence Cycle” was one of the most significant things I learned in my training to be an intelligence officer. It’s a timeless framework that is equally relevant to international spies, detectives, private investigators, and corporate security teams. Anyone seeking information on a threat or potential threat can benefit from this preparedness blueprint. It helps put the emphasis on planning rather than the ad-hoc crisis response.

Preparation vs. Crisis Response

Although there are many variations of the cycle, they all seek to demonstrate the best way to provide decision-useful information to leaders. These following steps are adapted from the cycle  described by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The Intelligence Cycle

1.) Planning and Direction

When tasked with a specific job, the planning begins on what to do and how. The team will list what is known about the issue and what they need to find out. Also, they discuss ways to gather the necessary intelligence.

2.) Collection

Information is overtly (openly) and covertly (secretly) collected. Reading foreign newspapers and magazine articles, listening to foreign radio, and watching overseas television broadcasts are examples of “overt” (or open) sources. Alternatively, covert sources can include information collected with listening devices and hidden cameras.

3.) Processing

All the information is collected is cataloged, organized, and made accessible to analysts. This information could be anything from a translated document to a description of a satellite photo. 

4.) Analysis and Production

During this step, a closer look at all the information is taken. Analysts determine how it fits together, while concentrating on answering the original task. They assess what is happening, why it is happening, what might occur next. 

5.) Dissemination

The final written analysis is provided to the stakeholder. After reading the final analysis and learning the answer to the original question, the stakeholder may come back with more questions.  

6.) Feedback 

This final step involves evaluating and then giving the producers of intelligence feedback on whether their requirements are being met, and if any adjustments or improvements are needed in the process. Then the whole process starts over again.

The Intelligence Cycle Steps Graphic

The Cycle in Practice

When working as a security professional, this cycle can organize your surveillance process into a repeatable and scalable framework. Kaseware’s software goes a step further to shorten this cycle. It assists in every step with one easy-to-use platform. Here is how it aids in each of these steps:

  1. Planning and Direction — Kaseware is able to provide a clear picture of what resources are available to assist with each mission. Specifically, our supervisor dashboards help highlight current personnel workload, available bandwidth and possible constraints.

  2. Collection — Kaseware makes it easy to know what data is already available and to then enter new information. Additionally, it assists in the collection of data though open APIs, We allow for easy integration to important data gathering resources, such as CCTV cameras, SocialNet (our social media search database), field sensors, and many other 3rd party databases, And of course, it allows you to manually insert new information about a topic or area of interest.

  3. Processing — A great example of Kaseware’s native processing capabilities is entity extraction. This means that whether your case contains important financial accounts, phone numbers, identification numbers, emails or even social media accounts, the system will be a able to categorize that data and organize it for later analysis. Kaseware’s entity extraction tooling and bulk import features are great ways to organize complex, unstructured data from a number of sources.

  4. Analysis and Production — Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of our software is link analysis. Kaseware’s link analysis and data visualization tools help the analysts uncover patterns that will answer the questions vital to the issue with which they are tasked.

  5. Dissemination — Upon completion of your case, Kaseware is able to easily disseminate information to the necessary stakeholders. This can even be done automatically either through internal system alerts or emails. 

  6. Feedback and Evaluation — Kaseware makes organizational postmortems a breeze. Teams can review the entire case with our timeline tool and other graphics. This helps them easily identify successes as well as where there is room for improvement.

In Conclusion

To summarize, the Intelligence Cycle is incredibly useful for intelligence work, no matter the security operation. The cycle has been part of the professional investigative work done by the Kaseware team and we are proud to have built a tool that supports such important work.

If you have further questions on the technology or about us, please reach out so we can see how we can better assist your intelligence operations.

Mark Dodge is the Chief Business Officer at Kaseware. He is a former intelligence officer with extensive experience in both public safety and corporate security software solutions.


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