Critical Thinking and Cognitive Bias for Cyber Intelligence
Analysts and analysts alone create intelligence. Although technological marvels assist analysts by cataloging and presenting data, information, and evidence in new ways, they do not do analysis. To be most effective, analysts need an overarching, reﬂective framework to add structured reasoning to sound, intuitive thinking. “Critical thinking” provides such a framework and goes further, positively inﬂuencing the entire intelligence analysis process. Analysts who adopt critical thinking stand to improve their analyses. This paper deﬁnes critical thinking in the context of intelligence analysis, explains how it inﬂuences the entire intelligence process, explores how it toughens the art of intelligence analysis, suggests how it may be taught, and deduces how analysts can be persuaded to adopt this habit.
Do you know your biases? Do you know those of your teammates? Does bias show up in your analysis and writing?
A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.
This course, created in 2008, continues to morph and update cyber intelligence changes. Learning critical thinking and cognitive bias must be a part of your cyber threat intelligence program. These are perishable skills. Get with the program here.
Former adjunct professor of Cyber Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Cybercrime (Utica College) and Information Security Risk Management (Clark University). Experienced in cyber intelligence lifecycle services and support, cyber counterintelligence services and analysis, active defense and cyber operations. Commercially teach Cyber Intelligence (Anonymity, Sockpuppets, Cyber Collection, Clandestine Cyber HUMINT, Socio-Cultural Aspects of Intelligence, Lifecycle, Critical Thinking, Cognitive Bias, Methods and Types of Analysis and Methods, Structured Analytic Techniques, Analytic Writing, BLUF/AIMS Delivery, and Dissemination), Jihadist Online Recruitment Methods, cyber influence operations, high-value target development, deception planning, deception operations management, Middle Eastern Cyber Warfare Doctrine, adversary dossier development and social-cultural analysis, jihadist training and gaming as a method of training, information and intelligence sharing, threat intelligence platform selection, non-inclusively.
Jeff Bardin is the Chief Intelligence Officer for Treadstone 71 with clients on 4 continents. In 2007, Jeff received the RSA Conference award for Excellence in the Field of Security Practices. His team also won the 2007 SC Magazine Award – Best Security Team. Jeff sits or has sat on the Board of Boston Infragard, Content Raven, Journal of Law and Cyber Warfare, and Wisegate and was a founding member of the Cloud Security Alliance. Jeff served in the USAF as a cryptologic linguist and in the US Army / US Army National Guard as an armor officer, armored scout platoon leader.
Mr. Bardin has extensive experience in cyber intelligence lifecycle services, program builds, targeted research and support, cyber counterintelligence services and analysis, deception planning, and cyber operations. He teaches Cyber Intelligence and Counterintelligence (Anonymity, Cyber Personas, Collection management, Clandestine Cyber HUMINT, Socio-Cultural Aspects of Intelligence, Critical Thinking, Cognitive Bias, Methods and Types of Analysis, Mitre ATT&CK, Structured Analytic Techniques, Analytic Writing, Briefings, and Dissemination), open source intelligence, strategic intelligence, operational/tactical/technical intelligence, and methods in media manipulation identification.
He has BA in Special Studies - Middle East Studies & Language from Trinity College and an MS in Information Assurance from Norwich University. Jeff also attended the Middlebury College Language School for additional language training. Mr. Bardin also spent two+ years studying Russian history, literature, political systems, and language. He lived and worked in the Mediterranean area, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Persian Gulf Region, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Jeff was an adjunct instructor of master’s programs in cyber intelligence, counterintelligence, cybercrime and cyberterrorism at Utica College. Mr. Bardin has also appeared on CNN, CBS News Live, FoxNews, BBCRadio, i24News, BBN, and several other news outlets and has contributed bylines to Business Insider non-inclusively.
We started teaching these courses in 2009 and have continued to update and hone them while maintaining true to the intelligence community standards. We have since built cyber threat intelligence programs for Fortune 500 firms and government organizations on four continents while providing targeted research against adversaries and nation-states.
We founded the company in 2002 and started creating cyber personas and infiltrating al-Qaeda sites collecting information and sharing it with various US-based organizations in 2004. In 2009-10, we started teaching Cyber Intelligence, Cyber CounterIntelligence and Cyber Crime courses at the master’s level at Utica College where we established the intelligence program. After three years of teaching at the academic level, we switched to the commercial space honing the courses to CIA/DIA style tradecraft as aligned to the cyber environment using the skills acquired in 2004. Since that time, we have continued to update the courses using real-world case studies as part of the training.
We have kept the company purposely small and now offer the training courses (www.treadstone71.com/cyber-intelligence-trainingan... www.cyberinteltrainingcenter.com) as well as Cyber Threat Intelligence maturity assessments, strategic and program planning, active research, collection, and reporting. We also perform Threat Intel Platform assessments, selection, and rollout activities for clients. We have clients in the US, EU, Australia, and Asia with active proposals in the Middle East. My personal background is as an Arabic Linguist (USAF / NSA), Russian Linguist, and CISO financial services, government contracts, insurance, and cybersecurity vendors. We have also acted as a critical resource for government CISOs in the past authoring their agency strategic plans, program plans and responding to Congressional inquiries on their behalf.
Jeff has spoken at RSA, NATO CyCon (Estonia), the US Naval Academy, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Johns Hopkins Research Labs, Hacker Halted, Malaysian Cyberjaya, Secureworld Expo, Hacktivity (Budapest), IS2 Prague, London (RSA), ISSA, Security Camp (Cairo), and several other conferences and organizations.
Mr. Bardin has authored books and contributed chapters to several other books most recently Current and Emerging Trends in Cyber Operations from George Washington University. Recently edited and provided content for Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow by Deborah Morley, Charles S Parker - 11th edition (March 2006 release). Reviewer for Building an Information Security Risk Management Program from the Ground Up (Evan Wheeler), Author Chapter 33 Computer Information Security Handbook 5th Edition - SAN Security. Author Chapter on Satellite Security - Computer Information Security Handbook 6th Edition. Author - The Illusion of Due Diligence - Notes from the CISO Underground (April 2010 release).
Treadstone 71 is a pure play intelligence company focusing on targeted research of adversaries building in-depth dossiers recording methods, tactics, techniques, procedures, known associates, memberships and psychological profiles. We author Current, Research/Foundational, Advisories, STEMPLES Plus, and Estimative Intelligence reports. We create profiles of high value targets including ‘know your customer’ profiles delivering assessments and gaps in protections with recommendations and opportunities.
We are known for building Strategic Intelligence Programs from vision, mission, guiding principles, goals, objectives, 36-month plans, policies, procedures, process flows, SOPs, KPIs, CSFs, training and awareness programs for intelligence. We also help establish internal intelligence community programs from technical and tactical to operational and strategic including physical, competitive, business, and cyber.
We have taught classes to and/or worked with/for:
AIB, American Express, Capital One, NATO, Belgian Military Intelligence, Commonwealth Bank, Bank of America, ING, NCSC NL, American Electric Power, Nationwide, Battelle, Standard Chartered, Columbus Collaboratory, Anomali, Defense Security Services, PNY, Dell Secureworks, HPE Security, EclecticIQ, Darkmatter (AE), General Electric, General Motors, PNC, Sony, Goldman Sachs, NASA, DoD, East West Bank, Naval Air Warfare Center, VISA, USBank, Wyndham Capital, Egyptian Government, DNB Norway, Euroclear, Malaysian Cyberjaya, People's United Bank, Baupost Group, Bank of North Carolina, Cardinal Health, Huntington, L Brands, OhioHealth, Fidelity Investments, Citi, Citigroup, T. Rowe Price, Wells Fargo, Davis Polk, Thrift Savings Plan, Discover, Equifax, Blackknight Financial Services, Schwab, GM, FRB, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Citizens Financial Group, Cleveland Clinic, Scottrade, MetLife, NY Life, Essent, Harvard University, Charles River Associates, Synchrony Financial, In-Q-Tel, TD Ameritrade, First Citizens Bank, M&T Bank, Western & Southern, American National Bank of TX, National Reconnaissance Office, OCBC Bank Singapore, Spentera, FBI, W.R. Berkley, F-Secure, People’s United Bank, Stellar Solutions, Lockheed Martin, Harvard Pilgrim, Symantec, State of Florida, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Mitsubishi UFG Trust and Banking Corporation, Target, Tri Counties Bank, Mass Mutual, Tower Research, Latham and Watkins LLP, Geller & Company, KeyBank, Northern Trust, Fannie Mae, BB&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, Farm Credit Services of America, Aviation ISAC, Regions Financial Corporation, Intercontinental Exchange (The ICE), Vista Equity Partners, JP Morgan Chase, Archer Daniels Midland, Nacha, Barclays, Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), Expo2020, Abu Dhabi Smart Solution's and Services Authority, Merck & Co., Inc Nomura International, ING, Finance CERT Norway, iPipeline, BBVA, PenFED, Santander, Bank of America, Equifax, BNY Mellon, UBS Group, OCC, Verizon, Vantiv, Raymond James, Bridgewater Associates, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BBVA, Promontory Interfinancial Network, Bank of Canada, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Ocean First Bank, International Exchange, Splunk, Vero Skatt, Ernst & Young, Relativity, Ultimate Software, Vista Equity Partners, Aetna, QBE Insurance Group, ACI Universal Payments, Betaalvereniging Nederland, Dutch Police, Motorola Solutions, Intel Corporation, Salesforce, Singapore Ministry of Defence, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ), National Australia Bank Limited, non-inclusively (as well as several other firms by proxy as they hire qualified intelligence professionals trained by Treadstone 71).
Focus on targeted research of adversaries building in-depth dossiers recording methods, tactics, techniques, procedures, known associates, memberships and psychological profiles. Author Current, Research/Foundational, PESTELI, deception planning and operations, psychological operations, and Estimative Intelligence reports. Create profiles of high value targets including ‘know your customer’ profiles delivering assessments and gaps in protections with recommendations and opportunities.
Strategic Intelligence Program builds from vision, mission, guiding principles, goals, objectives, 36-month plans, policies, procedures, process flows, SOPs, KPIs, CSFs, training and awareness programs for intelligence. Building internal intelligence community programs from technical and tactical to operational and strategic including physical, competitive, business, and cyber.
Frequently Asked Questions
The course covers non-inclusively:
- Elements of Thought
- Intellectual Standards
- Intellectual Traits
- Competencies of Critical Thinkers
- Questioning and Socratic Questioning
- Critical questioning
- Critical Thinking Rubric
- Cognitive Bias
- Types of Bias
- Recognizing and call out bias
- Knowing yourself
- Seeing is not believing
- Lectures, templates, examples, quiz