March 11, 2009, Updated September 12, 2012

Terrorists, criminals, lawbreakers are usually whizzes at covering their tracks. Tracking them down may be possible in a fast-paced TV show with super star detectives like Horatio H. Caine, Mac Taylor, or Jack Bauer. But, in reality, a staggering number of violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and property crimes (vehicle theft, burglary, arson) go unsolved.

FBI figures released two years ago, reported that only 44.5 percent of violent crimes were solved; and just 15.8% of property crimes. Victims of white-collar crimes – double billings, stock manipulation, phishing, Ponzi schemes – (two out of every three Americans,) don’t even know they have been targeted.

Billions of dollars have been spent on new tools to fight crime and terror in the US alone. One major obstacle in the road to cracking a case or preventing criminal or terrorist activity, however, is the difficulty of getting data from thousands of agencies who keep their own records and data bases.

Enter Israel’s MindCite. “Since 9/ll, the need to monitor Open Source Intelligence, such as blogs and chat rooms, became apparent,” Hadar Himmelman, CEO of MindCite, a data mining intelligence company, tells ISRAEL21c.

“Our pioneering technology gathers a huge amount of information on key topics, integrates it with data from various sources, and presents a coherent visual map with precise, focused information to intelligence officers. The system is multi-lingual. No one else offers a full semantic solution.”

Discovering hidden relationships

The system has extra smarts such as artificial intelligence, and neural networks to discover hidden relationships. Semantic trawling connects the dots in the relationship between people, places, objects, events, and ideas and prioritizes the results for clients.

“A semantic data search engine can give better answers,” explains Oren Yosifon, MindCite’s CTO.

So how does it work? It uses two basic techniques, Yosifon explains. Ontology technology uses knowledge representation – triples – to connect the dots between a subject, a verb, and an object. It also uses inference logic that enables it to detect sentiment and pick out the enemies or bad guys.

Citer, MindCite’s intelligent Web Crawler monitors data from Open Source Intelligence (blogs, chats, forums, news releases) on the Web. It also mines the data in closed and open agencies and records and then integrates the two in a visual map that shows relationships.

“Our system is on the watch for changes,” Yosifon tells ISRAEL21c. “If a new trend, or new people appear (involved in a drug cartel, or terror cell), it will send out an alert to the client. Our system can monitor many more websites, analyze and create a summary report of potential risks much faster, and cheaper, than other systems. Our edge over competitors is that our system is more precise.”

Solving a murder

Recently the company helped the police crack a murder case in record time, by drawing connections between a man, his cousin – who had a criminal record, and a further friend of the cousin, Yosifon relates. The information was a kick-start for the investigation that took a week instead of months.

Despite the recession, 2009 has got off to a good start for Rosh Ha’ayin based MindCite, and Himmelman plans to accelerate marketing in the US. “Our targets are law enforcement and intelligence agencies, homeland security; and, on-line banking. There is a lot of crime – phishing – in on-line banking. Victims are lured to sites through chats, and e-mails. Banks need to be pro-active,” he says. MindCite is in the midst of talks with a large international bank for use of its technology worldwide.

MindCite, which has offices in Panama, already has dozens of clients in Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, South America.

The company was founded in 2000, when the bubble burst. It spent the first several years on R&D, says Yosifon. The company’s technology was originally developed by Dr. Uri Hanani of Bar Ilan University and Dr. Shahaf Gal, of Harvard University, an expert in knowledge management. Its end-to-end semantic product is now a third generation version and Yosifon has become a guru in the field. Investors include Sparks Enterprises AV, Nova Com Tech, and Benjamin Kahn.

“We see big potential. There is an increasing demand for MindCite’s technology,” notes Himmelman. “The Homeland Security sector, and other agencies that deal with preventive security breaches, are growing. On-line banking is another area where the need is great. Twenty-first century detectives can count on us 24 hours a day, to crack a case or to prevent one from happening.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director