US Army set to hire internet spies

The US Army is seeking a contractor to scan the internet for threats to American national security.

The Army wants a contractor to monitor web pages, chat rooms and blogs 24 hours a day to establish emerging threats before they materialise.

The contractor will be expected to analyse the potential threats and deliver a weekly report with both facts and analysis to a nominated Army representative.

There will be a special focus on foreign domains that cause particular concern to national security.

"The contractor will conduct internet awareness services ... to identify and assess stated and implied threat, antipathy, unrest and other contextual data," said the tender document, which was released by the US Army's German office.

Those applying for the contract must include in their staff a principle cyber investigator, a specialised threat analyst, a 'foreign-speaking' analyst with cyber investigative skills and a 24/7 watch team.

Investigators must be available for consultation on threats at 8 hours' notice.

They have also been told they must phone or email immediately if they find threats that contain timing and/or targeting information related to specific areas of concern.

Fifteen companies have already expressed an interest in providing the service - among them Verizon Business, Fortinet, Safenet and Akamai. Other interested parties have until Monday to apply.

The UK's armed forces are also upping their surveillance of the internet.

Air Commodore Graham Wright, a senior information professional within the MoD, told a security conference in London last month: "As adversaries are holding information on networks, we need to be able to exploit that data. To understand the military network requires a huge intelligence piece now."

He too recognised the benefits of monitoring the right blogs. "Open source intelligence is something we must expand," he said. "The intelligence we get from blogging..."

The Royal Air Force is at present facing a critical shortfall of intelligence officers and intelligence analysts: both positions are currently advertised as "urgently needed". An intelligence analyst earns an annual salary of just £16,200 and needs just a handful of GCSEs.

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