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Feds Eye Las Vegas for Surveillance Tactics

samuraiknight (897383) writes | more than 6 years ago

Security 0

samuraiknight writes "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? According to the Washington Post, it does, but "for a lot longer than most people realize." Although the surveillance tactics of the Vegas casinos are now common knowledge thanks to popular movies such as Ocean's Eleven, the article provides additional details into the methods that most attract the attention of their security counterparts in the US federal government.

On occasion, national security and casino security interests directly intersect. Jeff Jonas discovered that after he developed a computer program for the casino industry that helps detect cheats using aliases.

A 43-year-old technology visionary and high-school dropout, Jonas soon realized that his system could also identify employees colluding with gamblers, say, by discovering that they share a home address. He calls his program NORA — for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness.

Every time a player registers for a loyalty card or a hotel room, Jonas explained from his lab near the Strip, the player's name, address and other data are sent to NORA. Also in the casinos' NORA database is information about employees and vendors.

NORA can spot links that a casino employee probably would never discover, such as a phone number shared by two different names, Jonas said. It once identified a casino promotions director who picked a winning ticket that belonged to her sister, he said.

The idea was so powerful that the CIA's private investment arm, In-Q-Tel, poured more than $1 million into NORA to help root out corruption in federal agencies. Then, after the Sept. 11 attacks, it became clear that link analysis could be useful in tracking terrorist networks.
The article also covers further efforts in link analysis as well as RFID in chips, data mining for marketing purposes, and even provides a brief anecdote covering how a former member of the MIT Blackjack Team slips by all the surveillance."
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