Bureau performs balancing act to guard against information overload

Bureau performs balancing act to guard against information overload

When sharing data, information assurance is key, the FBI's Mark Tanner says.

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The FBI strives to balance information dominance with information assurance, a senior bureau systems official said last week.

'But information dominance and assurance are in direct conflict,' Mark Tanner, the FBI's information resources manager, said at a GCN Forum luncheon in Washington.

In an electronic environment, the bureau must protect national and economic security and fight crimes against individuals, Tanner said.

He said the most important part of information dominance is the sharing of data on demand.

'I should not need to make a query; anything new should be routed to me automatically,' he said.

But when information is shared in this way, information assurance is essential, Tanner said. Firewalls, a public-key infrastructure and other computer security methods must be implemented, he said.

'Information dominance starts with collection, and once collected we have to process that information,' Tanner said. 'We need tools to analyze information in all types of forms to link people with events and locations.'

The FBI faces four challenges in moving from a paper to an electronic environment, Tanner said.

First, the bureau must move from a mainframe-centered environment to a distributed environment that takes advantage of Web technology. Second, it must shift from homegrown to commercial applications. And third, it must overcome funding hurdles.

But the fourth and greatest challenge is the cultural shift to an electronic world. FBI agents are used to and comfortable with paper and physical security steps, Tanner said.

'People need to apply physical security to the virtual world,' he said.

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