The United States Intelligence Community has created it’s own private wiki called Intellipedia. They have officially used Intellipedia for collaboration of data sharing since 2006. In this post I aim to discuss some of the most significant advantages and risks that would apply in this particular case.
On the plus side of things, Intellipedia has allowed the Intelligence Community to better share information and tacit knowledge, form virtual teams and make quicker assessments. One CIA agent speaking about it (in the video below) described an example where he would call his imagery specialist for some details on a particular site, who would explain it over the phone. The problem with this situation, is that the imagery specialist would receive this same call from a number of people, and have to repeat himself to each person. With Intellipedia in place, the images and information can be placed in a central place where everyone involved can access it. Easier and time saving! Another advantage that users have is that they know who has written what, which is helpful for knowing who a document has been approved by.
Obviously for the US Intelligence Community (which includes organisations such as the CIA) security is REALLY important. The approach they have taken is to give everyone within the community (not public community, the IC community) access to the central area, and from that place, there are many links to more specific areas, if a specific security level (e.g. Top Secret) is designated to one of these areas, Intellipedia will inform the user on what they must do to access it.
Most obvious risks to mention would be security breaches or sharing of information to the wrong parties, an obvious example of this is the recent US Army wiki leak, where “more than 90,000 documents cover the period from January 2004 through December 2009“. While Intellipedia hasn’t experienced a security breach of this scale yet, there’s no 100% that it can’t, because people will always be the weakest link.
Despite these risks, according to Michael Wertheimer (Assistant Deputy Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for Analysis), it’s worth the risk and that “the key is risk management, not risk avoidance.”
Personally, I think it’s so cool that the United States Intelligence Agency has implemented this wiki into what they do, if I worked there I think it would really help me do my job. A couple questions that remains on my mind is, how secure is the system? And where is it stored? After all, you can access the login page here.
Check out this video of an interview of a couple guys inside, working on the project: