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Using agents to monitor the Internet (3)
By Carlo Revelli
CEO of Cybion

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Legal Watch

Since a majority of people (and companies!) are persuaded that the Internet constitutes a domain of non-justice where one can do whatever one wants without running any risk, you may find it very beneficial to take some precautions to ensure your own protection.

  • To detect counterfeits, instead of doing not very effective searches from time to time, you can set up monitoring devices, once again based on alerting agents:
  • Though there is not a "miracle formula", a good strategy consists of identifying the sites of your principal direct and indirect competitors with the help of traditional tools.
  • Second, install off-line alerting agents and parameter them so that they monitor at least the "services/products" part of their site and "What’s new".
  • Then, you choose software able to index the all the data that the agent downloads so that you can do very precise and rapid searches directly on your computer, at fixed intervals.
  • The problem with this approach it is that it is not able to detect newcomers to your market. For this reason, it is essential to undertake mini-studies regularly in order to add them to your list of sites to be monitored. It is therefore a cyclic process, which gradually auto feeds and enriches itself.
  • To detect disinformation or destabilization campaigns it is necessary to follow a similar approach, which initially consists of identifying the "places" (discussion forums, mailing lists, websites) where a possible attack could come from. If you are in the insurance sector, it is in your interest to identify and monitor the principal forums and sites devoted to insurance. By choosing sufficiently relevant keywords, your alerting agents will track part of the information that could cause damage.

Naturally, as agents are not really intelligent, you will receive false alarms as soon as someone speaks about you, even in good terms... In addition, you can transform your investigation into a study of your image to understand what your customers or "Net surfers" in general say about you. A lot of noise circulates about certain opinion leaders and about many companies. The story of the Intel Pentium processor bug had been circulating for several months on certain forums, but no one at lntel paid attention. Opinion leaders (politicians and others), as well as companies, could find it very beneficial to follow the discussions related to them. Because, sooner or later, news spreads beyond the Internet via the traditional media.

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