Here’s what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
A secret NSA map, obtained by NBC News, shows the extent of China’s cyberattacks on the United States. The map uses red dots to mark a successful attempt to steal secret military or industrial data; there are over 600 dots on the map. Almost the whole Northeast region, from Washington, D.C. to Boston is covered in red dots. The Silicon Valley in California has the second highest concentration of red dots. The map was originally part of an NSA briefing prepared by the NSA Threat Operations Center in February 2014.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that ISIS is no weaker today than it was one year ago. This comes despite billions of dollars spent and over 10,000 extremists killed. U.S. Commanders do not dispute the assessment, however they do the believe the U.S.-led military campaign has put the Islamic State on the defense. U.S. Intelligence agencies see it more as a stalemate, an opinion which also contradicts the Obama Administration’s statement, through retired Gen. John Allen, who said last week that ISIS was losing.
In a statement released Monday the NSA said they had set a date to purge phone records collected through their bulk surveillance program. On November 29th “analytic access” to five years worth of records will end and three months later the records will be destroyed. The data has to be preserved for the extra three months “until civil litigation regarding the program is resolved or until courts relieve NSA of such obligations.” Also, according to the NSA, it is preserved “solely for the data integrity purposes.” to verify the records obtained by the USA Freedom Act.
The new director of the DIA Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart “surfaced some things that concerned us” while sweeping the agency’s networks. Stewart spoke about the IC workforce and budget and said many DIA employees are “still wrestling with their mission.” He also mentioned his displeasure with the antiquated equipment the DIA has to use and says he’ll push to update the hardware. Along with the hardware Stewart would also like to update the DIA’s “house of underperforming workers.” In regards to upgrading the workforce Stewart addressed how some older analysts were unable to see the world as it was changing. He also said the agency has to get over their opposition to professional certifications for analysts and prepare to say goodbye to their intelligence gathering artform known as MASINT.