AI-powered data tools to counter online extremism

Dr. Brenton Cooper is the co-founder and CEO of Fivecast, a data analytics startup that provides global law enforcement with the tools to tackle challenges such as online extremism, terrorism and human trafficking.

“Our mission as a company is to enable a safer world, and we do that by uncovering risks to the global community through online data,” Dr Cooper said.

“We support our clients in missions such as the fight against terrorism, serious and organized crime, the fight against human trafficking, the monitoring of online extremism and, in general, the provision of a safer world.”

Adelaide-based Fivecast is a finalist in the Software Innovation category of the InnovationAus Awards for Excellence 2022. Winners will be announced at a Black-Tie party at The Cutaway venue in Barangaroo on November 17.

Founded in 2017, the company was built on the work of the Data to Decisions Cooperative Center (D2D CRC), which brings together leading government agencies and research institutes to address big data challenges facing national security. and law enforcement.

Co-founder and CEO of Fivecast, Dr. Brenton Cooper

Today, Fivecast’s AI-based technology – dubbed ONYX – is specifically used around the world for counter-terrorism, extremist threat monitoring, security screening, insider threat detection, countering anti-trafficking and fraud detection.

It monitors and interprets a range of multimedia data including images, text and video to detect phrases, quotes and logos and uses artificial intelligence to learn and increase its capabilities over time.

“We help law enforcement and intelligence analysts collect and analyze information from publicly available information sources such as the dark web, chat rooms and forums, where illegal activity occurs “, said Dr. Cooper.

A good example of an American project that is already making a difference is that of the non-profit organization Deliver Fund, which helps reduce the impact of human trafficking in the Americas.

“They are a group of former Navy seals and CIA agents, and they have turned their talents to human trafficking in the United States,” Dr Cooper said.

“We help them understand and see how these human traffickers recruit people online and in the digital world, and also how they advertise their services,” he said.

“We are able to help them understand the network behind human traffickers and develop targeting packages, which they send to their partners in the legal community.”

Sifting through “data noise”

So what drives the technology? ONYX is an open-source, cloud-hosted intelligence solution that provides advanced data collection across surface, deep, and dark web online platforms and deploys AI-based risk analytics.

“Open source intelligence, often referred to as a subset of digital intelligence, is the process of collecting, analyzing, and extracting meaningful information from publicly available data sources, including social media, news feeds, blog sites and discussion forums,” Dr Cooper said. Explain.

Given that the growth of open source data is exponential – and will be for the foreseeable future – Dr Cooper said it was essential for intelligence teams (both government and corporate) to take advantage of solutions techniques that automate data collection and analysis. This is in addition to the existing use of their own analytical expertise and know-how to advance intelligence missions.

“The volume, speed and complexity of online data is beyond human scale, and intelligence organizations cannot keep up. ONYX enables intelligence teams to sift through “data noise” to identify the most relevant data critical to advancing investigations and protecting global communities. »

Offering more than just monitoring, Dr. Cooper said the unique power of the ONYX solution lies in its ability to not only explore unprecedented amounts of data, but also deliver deep and actionable insights.

In this vein, the technology’s risk detection framework combines advanced network identification and sentiment and emotion detection capabilities with the aim of providing an unparalleled ability to predict and prevent threats in complex digital landscapes. .

Asked about market challengers, Dr. Cooper said ONYX is in a diverse competitive landscape with a number of competitors in several categories, including: monitoring publicly available data (Surface Web data); dark web monitoring; deep web collection; multi-source merging; and configurable risk scoring.

“Fivecast is one of the few companies to feature in these five categories having recently developed fusion capability to compete with multi-source fusion companies. Our data collection and access to data from the surface, deep and dark, combined with advanced AI-powered risk analytics to easily filter and assess this data, sets us apart.

Growth spurt

Already, the company is growing, hiring its 100th employee, up from 15 three years ago.

The company has established a strong export market in the United States and expanded its export capabilities to the EU, EMEA and APAC, with plans to increase market penetration in these markets while continuing to increase its market share in the United States.

On American soil, it set up a Tradecraft and Business Development team in Arlington, Virginia, which now numbers 15 people.

Additionally, Fivecast is considered one of the first Australian companies and only a handful of international companies to win a DIU (Defense Innovation Unit (DIU)) project with the US Department of Defense, scheduled for an 8 project, $8 million.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the company has hired its first two team members.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.