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The Daily

Minority Report for Business: Company Promises to Predict Insider Threats Before They Happen

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 6, 2016
monitor-1054710_1920It's not quite three psychics kept in suspended animation but a company founded by a former FBI agent and former federal prosecutor says that it can use linguistic analysis to monitor how workers are really feeling, and predict whether the disgruntled ones are planning something bad, according to FastCompany

Most people understand that their work communications are monitored by the company, and so if someone were planning, say, to leak important data or begin inflating purchase orders and pocketing the difference, they probably wouldn't say so in an email. But if they're thinking it, this company says it can find out through sifting through their emails and text messages and finding subconscious cues that give away their intentions. For example, according to FastCompany, the program measures how gruntled or disgruntled an employee is through searching for words and phrases that connote victimization, anger and blame, such as an unusually high number of negative words. In one case, according to FastCompany, the software was able to detect that someone was planning to kill themselves, allowing the company to intervene. 

One of the founder of the company, Ed Stroz, likened the approach to how the FBI changed in the wake of 9/11: instead of being reactive and investigating things after they happen, it became proactive and sought to stop threats before they could start. The software his company uses is taking this same approach and applying to private sector business. While understanding the privacy concerns, he said that few people read the actual communications themselves, and they're always an outside technician. 

While the company has over 500 workers in 14 offices (who, no doubt, pay great attention to what they say and how they say it), it does not disclose who any of its clients are, saying that companies don't like workers knowing about these sorts of things because it makes them feel mistrusted.