Laplace’s Demon: the Russian solution for Open Source Intelligence

The application of Laplace’s Demon in the fight against terrorism (Source: Protestonline.ru)

by Giuliano Bifolchi

Laplace’s Demon is the Russian solution in the field of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) which has been adopted to contrast phenomena such as terrorism, radicalisation, criminal activities or monitor brand reputation, inter-ethnic conflicts and economic trends.

Laplace’s Demon (in Russian Демон Лапласа) is an automated system for monitoring and data collection from the Internet that allows the analysts to receive and analyze a wide range of information from the social networks Facebook, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, Instagram, Twitter, online media, as well as from personal blogs as LiveJournal and Telegram messenger. This software package is based on an algorithm for finding key links in the chain of content distribution by recruiters based on the European programme NodeXL.

Laplace’s Demon has the following functions:

  • Countering Extremism. The software package has an automated search for extremist content. This function provides a list of accounts that distribute prohibited publications, audio and video content and allows the analyst to filter the users according to his/her location. The search results are displayed as a table containing information about the owner of the account with banned videos, their contact details and personal photos. Cluster analysis helps to determine the overall level of interethnic and interfaith relations in a particular region and to fix the points of growth of hatred and hostility based on belonging to a particular religion or nationality.
  • Religious and national conflicts. A geographically segmented analysis of religious attitudes and interethnic relations makes it possible to find and localize sources of information which are the catalysts of negative activity leading to inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflicts. The use of cluster analysis in operational monitoring helps to assess the degree of activity in communities of relevant topics. The analyst can divide communities into nationalist and Islamist, liberal and left-wing, measuring activity not only in a particular group but in a cluster of such groups, comparing history and making forecasts.
  • Brend monitoring: competitor analysis is one of the most effective ways to choose the optimal solution for the successful development of your own business. The software package Laplace’s Demon allows the analyst to automate the process of obtaining information from social networks and online media related to brand mentions and show the information received on the analyst’s monitor both in the context of each social network separately and in each region.
  • Network Visualization. Thanks to the software it is possible to monitor online communities and find opinion leaders who have the greatest impact on the audience of social networks. Through this function, the analyst can fix parameters such as the number of publications or comments to identify among the total mass of accounts those that enjoy the greatest support of their subscribers.
  • Monitoring the environmental situation. This function aims at collecting subjective information from residents of a specific region about the detection of unauthorized landfills, waste disposal sites and industrial waste, with subsequent transmission of information to the monitors of the heads of relevant departments in the regional Government, as well as sending the geographical coordinates of landfills to mobile phones of operators of unmanned aerial vehicles to confirm the information received during monitoring.
  • Competitive intelligence. This function allows the analyst to individuate possible brands or competitors according to their geographical position and number of customers.
This chart shows how Laplace’s Demon analyses and presents the data related to the Islamic State collected from the news (Source: TASS)

Laplace’s Demon is not a new solution in the field of Open Source Intelligence because it appeared on the market in 2015. Actually, on December 7th, 2015, the Director of the Center for Research on Legitimacy and Political Protest, the software developer Yevgeny Venediktov, presented Demon Laplace and its application in the field of counter-terrorism during a press conference organised by the Russian media agency TASS.

We should remember that in 2015 the Russian Federation (as the entire world) was fighting against the rise of the Islamic State and jihadist propaganda. Actually, in 2014 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the birth of the Caliphate during the Friday speech at the mosque of Mosul creating an Islamic state between Iraq and Syria and starting jihadist propaganda whose purpose was to recruit Muslim believers among the globe. Due to the high number of Russian foreign fighters among the ranks of the Islamic State and considering the terrorist threat inside the Russian Federation, Laplace’s Demon was considered a solution to monitor social networks, websites and blogs to individuate possible cases of radicalisation, jihadist promoters and prevent future terrorist acts. 

In conclusion, although it seems that Laplace’s Demon runs only on Windows 7 cutting off all those analysts who work with different operating systems, we might state that Laplace’s Demon presents itself as one of the most interesting solutions in the world of Open Source Intelligence because this software package can be used for different purposes. In the Internet era characterised by a huge amount of data and information disseminated among websites, blogs, social accounts, Laplace’s Demon can help the analyst in his/her activities of researching, collecting, discriminating, analysing data and disseminating Intelligence.