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How to Land & Expand Government Data Contracts with Zero Footprint Investigations

when secure investigations are digital, zero trust is necessary

The speed and scale of any data operation are critical, especially when fighting crime. Whether digging into cross-jurisdictional financial crimes, checking potential terror activities, probing federal criminal activities, or even conducting security clearances, law enforcement, intelligence, and national security agencies require fast, scalable use of massive amounts of data to perform their investigations and screenings effectively. Fortunately, the data they need exists, and there are many data providers and brokers that do a good job concatenating many such data sets. Everything from personally identifiable information (PII), including full name, social security number, and street address, to financial information such as bank balances and transfer records, to personal health information (PHI), including medical treatments and doctor visits, is collected, stored, and potentially available to inform vital government investigations. Unfortunately, it’s the speed and ease of using this sensitive data that poses the challenge. The good news is that privacy technologies (PETs) can be applied to data collaboration platforms to eliminate these hurdles, greatly expanding usable data sources, and accelerating the pace at which agencies can conduct investigations to get ahead of the criminals.

In addition to falling under current privacy or financial regulations, the US Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have raised the idea of additional controls on the sale of sensitive and personal data. But regardless of regulatory requirements around the data, keeping the investigations themselves confidential is essential. The challenge, then, is to deliver that data securely so that agencies can gain the complete insight they need without risking confidentiality or breaking the bank. Unfortunately, the only plausible option is a lengthy, expensive, and risky lift and shift of entire data sets to agency-owned infrastructure. Modern privacy-enhancing technologies can help data brokers and government agencies overcome this hurdle, smoothing the path to accurate, cost-effective, and confidential zero footprint investigations.  

Watch the Webinar about how Refinitiv is doing just this.

True Zero Trust – Reliable, Confidential Data is a Must for Secure Investigations

When government agencies conduct investigations, it’s critical that no one outside the agency is aware of who is under investigation for several reasons: 

  • Leaks of investigation targets can cause unnecessary harm to the subject. This can include reputational damage if the subject’s family, co-workers, or community discover what the individual is being investigated for or even if they’re under investigation at all. People don’t always wait for the outcome to make a judgment, despite our standard of “innocent until proven guilty.” This could lead to a target losing his job or relationships or facing backlash from the community or worse. 
  • Investigation leaks can tip off criminals that their activities are being monitored and allow them to evade law enforcement by fleeing before the agency is ready to take action. 
  • Finally, leaks can cause the public to lose faith in the agency’s ability to keep information confidential as well as its commitment to data protection and operational security, potentially harming public opinion of the agency. 

Until now, the workaround required agencies to bypass the security and privacy risks of running investigations on data stored outside their perimeter by purchasing entire data sets from data brokers and transferring data to their internal storage. However, this approach comes with its own challenges. Public sector agencies then become responsible for large blocks of sensitive data – even including data not directly pertinent to a given investigation. IT, data, security, and compliance teams must be involved in acquiring, transferring, storing, and protecting such data, eating up agency resources. And, if agencies choose not to or simply can’t take on this burden, they miss out on valuable datasets, negatively impacting investigations, risk awareness, and national security outcomes, while data brokers lose out on the potential to monetize a valuable resource. 

Even offering or sourcing data via a data marketplace doesn’t completely solve this issue. Data marketplaces don’t have a legitimate basis to hold sensitive data, such as biographical data containing PII. Housing or transferring such data would make the data marketplace a data controller, which, under certain privacy laws, significantly increases liability.

Data Brokers Can Help Secure Investigations Achieve Speed and Scale with Zero Footprint Investigations

Fortunately, today’s modern privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) provide the much-needed solution to bridge the security, quality, and cost gap for data brokers and agencies. 

PETs provide preventive security “guardrails” to proactively uphold privacy or security requirements instead of checkpoints that can slow or block investigations. With the Zero Footprint Investigation software that leverages PETs, like fully homomorphic encryption, the investigator doesn’t need direct access to the sensitive data they’re querying to generate meaningful insights. They’re able to run the necessary analysis on securely encrypted data. Simultaneously, the data owner can’t see the subject of the query nor the results, which are also encrypted and only available to the investigator.

Duality empowers agencies to conduct Zero Footprint Investigations through secure and private access to third-party data. By operationalizing privacy enhancing technologies, Duality enables agencies to securely analyze third-party data without having to move it onto their premises, purchase unnecessary data or equipment, or create new hardware or virtual environments – all while ensuring the targets of the investigations and the results are never exposed.

By leveraging a technology solution, the expense, risk, and time required for process-driven workarounds are eliminated. The Duality platform goes even further by including core governance controls and reporting in addition to data and collaboration management features.

With streamlined access to the most up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive public and commercial datasets, agencies can improve the quality and pace of investigations and screenings. Data brokers can help agencies unlock the value of that sensitive data by offering access in compliance with privacy and security requirements. In addition, agencies don’t have to deal with stale data or the manual processes required to update those datasets.

By operationalizing privacy enhancing technologies, Duality enables efficient and effective collaboration across teams, agencies, jurisdictions, and sectors – agencies can progress and complete their critical investigations and screenings faster and easier than ever before. 

Get Your Advantage Today

Criminals expect data collaboration among agencies to be slow and limited, and that expectation can play a big part in evading detection and capture. By enabling the use of investigative data at speed and scale, Zero Footprint Investigations put the good guys in a better position to win.

Part of an agency that conducts sensitive investigations?

Contact our government team to learn how our solution can improve the speed and scale of investigative data operations.

Part of a data brokerage or provider that would benefit from landing and expanding government contracts?

Contact our alliances’ team to learn more about how our platform can grow your business.

Not ready for a call? No problem. Learn more about how we’ve teamed up with Refinitiv and Carahsoft:

Download the Zero Footprint Investigation Solution Brief.

Watch the on-demand webinar with Refinitiv here.

Register for the webinar with Carahsoft on Nov 16th

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