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Miniaturization Threat Impact (MTI) system

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Identifying items at th
e edge of technology


It is an axiom at our shop that "items at the edge of technology" are often unrecognizable or unidentifiable by inspectors unfamiliar with the technology. Two characteristics most contributed to a lack of recognition, robbing the viewer of visual cues as to function:

  • Miniaturization - a reduction of size and form.
  • Integration (often a handmaiden of miniaturization) - the combination of functions of multiple items into a single item, itself often miniaturized.


Defenders too often fail to recognize miniaturization and integration as crucial components in risk evaluation. The emergence of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) that exhibit both miniaturization and functional integration are already complicating timely identification of risky items. (Also see Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center and search the domain for "mems".)


We expects fluid conditions as defenders expand their screening focus beyond larger, more recognizable items to include a proliferating class of smaller, cheaper items:

  • Unexpected, innovative and non-traditional methods will proliferate, finding broad applicability.
  • Targets will have changing vulnerabilities, technological abilities and associated risks.
  • Attackers' tactics will evolve in methods and operational activities from internal technological "lift" and as a response to changes by their targets.
  • Short of nation state confrontations, conventional operations will draw less interest as adversaries will look to escape retaliation and the cost of investments required to underwrite an overt effort.
  • Unless we design with the asymmetrical adversary in mind, such adversaries will continue to find ways to bypass our defenses and exploit our vulnerabilities. Such asymmetric operations will have common characteristics:
    • Small-scale high-impact operations.
    • Operations performed with greater efficiency and effectiveness, both to minimize footprint and discovery and to conserve organizational resources, in order to achieve maximum results.
    • Rise in operations taken to address ideological causes and this applies equally to fringe Muslim fundamentalists and single-issue groups such as Earth Liberation Front (ELF).


Creating a generalized risk assessment hierarchy

Done for the US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), a pilot Miniaturization Threat Impact (MTI) system capable of classifying threats from miniaturization and integration was developed.


Risk characteristics spanning easily known to insufficiently known to otherwise unknown items were captured in a generalized risk assessment tree (from least to greatest risk):


LEAST RISK 
  1. Primary function is identifiable from life experience and general training.
  2. Primary function is identifiable from specific industry/technology experience.
  3. Dual use/unintended use is ascertainable from specialized training and added knowledge-base.
  4. Miniaturization (function no longer evident) becomes difficult to defeat.
  5. Functional integration (embedding multiple functions by virtue of miniaturization) is difficult to defeat.

GREATEST RISK

The relative ease or difficulty of identification scaled appropriately (from easy to most difficult):

IDENTIFICATION WITH EASE
  • Generalists were good at #1, generally poor at all others.
  • Specialists were good at #1 and #2, generally poor at all others.
  • #3 much harder as it requires understanding of function(s) and the ability to transfer those characteristics to new objects, especially for a "good enough" capacity.
  • Highly skilled and frequently retrained specialists might address #4 on an irregular basis. 
  • Miniaturization and Integration #5 were effectively undefeatable in the short to medium term.

IDENTIFICATION MOST DIFFICULT
 
Capabilities difficult to automate


The author's ability to identify dual-use capability (can be used for both civil and military use) and "unintended use" capability (can be used for unintended or unimagined applications) proved difficult to transfer to existing staff without extensive retraining. Existing staff were either Generalists good at #1, or modest Specialists good at #1 and #2. Staff were, in effect, being asked to perform a role for which they had no prior experience.


Implications going forward


The glide slope to the desktop that brings increasingly greater capacity in smaller form factors at lower cost to the lay user or asymmetrical attacker will continue. Capability and/or lethality will rise even as components shrink.


Google Glass as an example in transition


"Wearables" (properly named the wearable computing market) has moved beyond early adopter status, but its three segments have varying degrees of acceptance:

  • Complex accessories - "operate partially independent of any other device, but fully operate when connected with IP-capable devices".
  • smart accessories - similar to complex accessories but allow users to add third-party applications.
  • smart wearables (notably Google Glass) - "function with full autonomy, independent of any other device except to access the Internet".

While it is now said to be a question of "when" and not "if" the wearables segment extends into the enterprise, aggressive miniaturization and integration continues to drive social unease - with more women than men in the negative. Google might benefit from flooding trusted segments with subsidized Glass, e.g., physicians, essential technicians, police and military. From Pew:

[P]ublic attitudes towards ubiquitous wearable or implanted computing devices are the most positive, or more accurately, the least negative. Although 53% of Americans think it would be a bad thing if “most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them,” just over one third (37%) think this would be a change for the better

The glide slope to the desktop will continue to accelerate as Google has already received a patent for smart contact lenses with built-in cameras and other sensors such as infrared. The technical, police and military implications are staggering.


Today's Google Glass will by then have ceased to be an issue as people look carefully at your eyes to see if you are reality augmented. I would expect a certain class of detectors to emerge to detect wearers of such contacts. And they will be mounted in contact lens, or embedded in the wearer's biologic eyes.


Readers are recommended to read up on transhumanism.


U.S. Views of Technology and the Future
Science in the next 50 years
Aaron Smith, Lee Rainie, Michael Dimock
Pew Research Center
APRIL 17, 2014


Google invents smart contact lens with built-in camera: Superhuman Terminator-like vision here we come
By Sebastian Anthony
ExtremeTech
April 15, 2014 at 8:53 am


Don't blink or you'll miss this: Google to put cameras in contact lenses
By Michael McEnaney
Tech Times
April 15, 6:07 PM


Worldwide Wearable Computing Market Climbing to Nearly 112 Million in 2018, Says IDC
The Financial
12/04/2014 16:36


#Gogleglass #Wearables #Risk


Gordon Housworth



Cybersecurity Public  InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Intellectual Property Theft Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  Weapons & Technology Public  

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