Dec 1, 2016

Dec 1, 2016

Is Lemonade Really the Future of Insurance?

Insurance startup Lemonade opened for business in New York in September this year to great fanfare. If you haven’t heard, Lemonade is heralded as a mobile-first, legacy-system-free, peer-to-peer insurance carrier that is poised to usher in a new era of personal insurance.

When I saw Lemonade co-founder Daniel Schreiber at InsureTech Connect 2016 I was finally able to confirm the rumors—Schreiber is a genius.

But the reason why he’s a genius is bigger than Lemonade itself. With a background rooted in tech, Schreiber has been able to establish himself on the front lines of insurance and build an audience for his innovative approach to a legacy-laden industry.

Lemonade introduces a whole new vision of selling insurance. Time will tell if it really revolutionizes the industry, but one thing is clear—there are still many questions to answer before we get ahead of ourselves.

Lemonade Distribution—Is It Really Peer-to-Peer?

When you look at Lemonade on the surface, it’s clear that the user experience is amazing. Having a mobile-first approach to selling insurance will help the industry align itself with the broader scope of digital transformation that is sweeping businesses in all sectors.

It’s not that Lemonade is the only insurtech application out there—it’s just that Lemonade simply has the best user interface.

Once you look deeper than the user experience, the peer-to-peer model becomes interesting. Lemonade’s peer-to-peer insurance model is based on the insurance carrier model (Lemonade is a licensed carrier in New York) where policy holders form small groups online and part of their insurance premiums flow into a group fund for paying claims.

Essentially, Lemonade’s business model calls for users to divide risk amongst themselves. However, if you look a little closer, it seems unclear whether Lemonade is actually offering a peer-to-peer approach to insurance or if it’s a virtual/mobile-first version of a regular insurance company.

Lemonade has dramatically cut the typical insurance industry debt ratio by eliminating offices and agents. But Lemonade’s reinsurance through Lloyd’s of London makes it tough to really understand this peer-to-peer model.

The distribution model will become clearer over time, but the bigger question is profitability in this new vision of insurance sales.

Fraud and Insurance Profitability—What’s the Lemonade Approach?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much an insurance company collects in premiums—it only matters how much of that money is staying in your pocket.

Traditional insurance companies consistently post combined loss ratios above 100%, so there is an obvious concern for increasing profitability. Lemonade has said this led incumbent insurers to put $0.40 on the dollar of their premiums toward expense ratios. As Dan Ariely, Lemonade’s Chief Behavioral Officer, puts it:

In the very structure of the old insurance industry, every dollar your insurer pays you is a dollar less for their profits. So when something bad happens to you, their interests are directly conflicted with yours. You’re fighting over the same coin. Basically if you tried to create a system to bring out the worst in people, you would end up with one that looks a lot like the current insurance industry.

This contention between insurers and their customers has led to 25% of Americans believing that it’s okay to embellish claims, according to Lemonade. Fraud is a real problem that new insurtech players must contend with, and Lemonade is no exception.

Lemonade has worked to restructure the insurance model in a way that aligns with behavioral economics and game theory. According to the company, the current insurance model breeds fraudulent activity because consumers feel slighted by insurers and their distrust leads to fraud. In response, Lemonade looks to signal to consumers that they can be trusted by being transparent about the 20% management fee and giving all unclaimed money to charity.

Lemonade believes that if consumers see that fraud is slighting charity rather than slighting an insurer, they won’t be pushed to commit fraud. It’s a little troubling that Lemonade’s Giveback program is an expression of intent, not a contractual obligation to policyholders nor their selected charities. But aside from this point, there are still inconsistencies in the overarching Giveback theory.

The problem with this signaling theory is rooted in Schreiber’s explanation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. He says that when playing the Prisoner’s Dilemma, neither party trusts the other which leads to bad results for both. However, when you look at real-world results of the Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma, an initial defect response will force punishment that inevitably leads to a cooperate response later. A defect/defect response is a Nash Equilibrium, but in the long run the optimal solution and best strategy is cooperate/cooperate. This isn’t necessarily consistent with Lemonade’s explanation of consumer/insurer distrust.

This inconsistency complicates the signaling behavior that Lemonade’s model aims for. The 20% management fee and charity policy are Lemonade’s signals to the other party that the insurer won’t change its strategy no matter what happens. If we employ Lemonade’s logic, the other party has no choice but to defect—but we expect the exact opposite. If a policyholder signals to an insurance company that he/she won’t commit fraud (per behavior data and shared privacy), the insurance company has no choice but to pay claims. This isn’t consistent with the current state of insurance as companies lose money and consumers don’t trust the industry.

As Lemonade matures, we’ll see if this plan works out. It’s just hard to imagine that Lemonade doesn’t have a backup plan for insurance fraud (or, maybe we just aren’t getting a complete picture of the business model just yet).

Lemonade Success Spells Success for all Insurtech Entrpreneurs

The growth of Lemonade and the insurtech space seems poised to put an end to the idea that insurance companies can only make money by not paying claims. Insurtech entrepreneurs are rooting for Lemonade’s success. But keep in mind that insurance innovation will only take us so far—we have to address fraud to ensure we’re profitable.

Despite the rise of these “disruptors,” we can be sure that insurance companies aren’t going anywhere. As Chairman of InsureTech Connect Caribou Honig says, “Many entrepreneurs overestimate changes that will be in 2 years and underestimate changes that will be in 10 years.”

Insurtech is on the rise and Lemonade is certainly poised for success, but the insurance industry as a whole must buckle down and solve the problem of fraudulent claims before we can succeed in the digital future.

Oct 13, 2016

Oct 13, 2016

What Intelligence Is Not

Photo Credit:
Images related to investigations seem to catch our eyes more than ever now— on our social media timelines and feeds (“Proof of ‘Real Housewives’ star’s fiancé cheating!”), in our guilty-pleasure tv binges (almost every other shot in “Mob Wives” or in case files on “Law & Order”), and in the news (convenience store footage of robberies). From a gumshoe’s grainy black and white image taken from a cafe or hotel balcony, to sophisticated satellite images with timestamps and coordinates, these images evoke a sense of spying, while fueling our fears that every camera lens (public and obscured) is recording our every move… and that the pictures can and will be used against us.

There is a continuing great and valid debate about citizens’ rights to privacy regarding cameras in public, their usefulness, and what is done with the hours of footage and millions of pixels from images of everyday people going about their daily lives. We hold varying levels of trust (or mistrust, as the case may be) in whose eyes are behind the lenses, where the images are stored and secured, and “how it looks” to someone else when they see us on film.

While concerns may rise about Big Brother watching our every move, we have also become a bit numb in certain societies to ever-watchful eyes. Those of us who live in big cities around the world are especially desensitized to cameras all around, but ask any man on the street, and he will most likely tell you that he believes data is being collected about all of us, all of the time. People believe it’s the way of the world we live in, so we should just be ready for our close-ups.

The images on our computer, television, and movie theater screens reinforce the belief that nefarious people, whether they claim to be on our side or not, are sitting in dank rooms, pouring over footage and phone records of any and every body. Some people actually believe that the National Security Agency is “just getting intel on all of us,” making intel a buzzword and intelligence a part of our vernacular.

Without delving into the debate about right to privacy, we can say definitively that this view is all wrong.

It’s Not All About You (Specifically)

Persistent Surveillance Systems, a private technology company, has been in the news[1] because it came to light that their plane-mounted cameras were employed by the city of Baltimore in early 2016 to record images spanning over 25 square miles for up to 10 hours a day… without the taxpaying citizens being aware of it.[2] As Compton (California) Mayor Aja Brown has stated, “There is nothing worse than believing you are being observed by a third party unnecessarily.” The outcry of Baltimoreans was that their own government was spying and collecting intelligence on its residents and visitors.

But it was not.
Persistent Surveillance Systems’ images have been used in cities to solve crimes for several years
Photo Credit: Persistent Surveillance Systems)

It is important that we have a clear understanding of a few important points: First, images from the planes’ altitude reduce people on the street to mere pixels, rendering faces indistinguishable. And the cameras also do not operate 24 hours a day. Furthermore, as we discussed in a previous blog post on intelligence methodology, the cameras themselves provide only the optics— intelligence has to have a goal; the data cannot exist solely for its own sake (or the machinations of others), and the methodologies of science and law are checks and balances that protect us from who collects the data and how that data is used.

But the main thing we need to have a clear understanding of is the fact that this is not intelligence.

Intelligence Is A Step Further

What laymen often refer to as “intel” is actually surveillance.
“Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, the prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or for the investigation of crime.”[3] The differentiator is that surveillance - the camera images from above, from CCTV, and even from hidden agents’ pen cameras - is an active part of data collection for intelligence, but it is not intelligence itself.

Surveillance and its legality (in whole or in part) is the primary issue with which people take umbrage in regard to the NSA, FBI, and The Patriot Act in the United States. People simply and justifiably do not want to have their internet search histories, phone calls, and whereabouts tracked and recorded without clear cause and notification. We fear that all of this data is used to compile some type of intelligence file that could be used against us, all without our knowledge or consent.

“Intelligence differs from surveillance in that it constitutes a further step in the process of managing the information obtained: monitoring aims to search for and obtain the most relevant information for our environment interests, while Intelligence emphasizes the analysis and evaluation of the results obtained from the monitoring based on different "indicators" or analysis types. This is presented in the form of reports aimed at facilitating decision-making.”

Surveillance alone does not stop criminal activity (although the presence of visible cameras may thwart it), nor does it bring the bad guys to justice. That’s intelligence. The data from surveillance, combined with intelligence methodology, are what aid investigators and agents to get the complete picture, so to speak, and figure out the details and truths to keep us safe. To break it down further, consider surveillance data versus information— you can collect data, but you can not glean any valuable information from it. Intelligence is actually getting information out of data.

In the famous case of the Boston Marathon Bombing of 2013, scores of cameras from the city, as well as pictures and video clips from attendees’ smartphones and digital cameras, were scoured and studied to lead to the suspects of the horrific crime. The images were the surveillance, but the technology used to identify faces, the questions the agents asked, and the information checks— these aspects were all a part of intelligence. Surveillance is not a collection discipline; it is but a part of the methodology.

Shift Your Thinking About Intelligence

Whether it is a government entity using cameras to get images within its borders, a telecomm company keeping a list of all phone calls and text messages, an ISP keeping details on computers’ ISP addresses and internet usage, or the monitoring of phone calls by the NSA, remember that this is surveillance, which is to serve a greater purpose in intelligence, which is to maintain safety and to catch the true bad guys. It’s how the information gathered from surveillance is used that truly matters, and despite what the headlines tell you, it is mostly for good over bad.

The growth and popularity of Internet of Things and Machine Learning have us encounter uses and processes of the surveillance and intelligence world in our everyday lives in much smaller ways to enhance and to protect our persons and possessions— a smart watch can monitor stats that can be studied and interpreted to help you stave off an impending health issue; cookies and tracking mechanisms on our computers and digital devices can help us use an app to locate them if they are lost or stolen; satellites, apps, and algorithms can detect traffic patterns and prevent accidents or congestion on the roadways. The science of surveillance can be used in ways great and small for our benefit.

Surveillance is nothing without intelligence: Agents analyze audio data on “The Wire”

Regarding the proverbial Big Brother who is watching us from the skies and is tapped into our communications lines, remember this important point from the hit show, “The Wire” (whose very name is about wiretap surveillance): “All the pieces matter.” Intelligence isn’t simply one step in the process, it should not be confused with the step of surveillance, and all of the pieces in the methodology and all of the players are tantamount.

Ready for more? Be sure to bookmark and follow us for our next blog post in this series to learn more about intelligence.

Aug 30, 2016

Aug 30, 2016

Intelligence Methodology: The Way Big Brother Is Actually Looking Out For You

Having to give your Social Security or National ID number. Typing your PIN in public at the ATM. Posting your personal information on social media sites. Submitting your email address to register for a website. Entering your credit card information to buy a book from Amazon. Seeing your house on Google Maps Street View.

All of these actions have made our hearts pound a bit harder and faster at one time or another, as we hold the thought in the backs of our minds: “Who gets this information and what are they really doing with it?”

The public consensus is that we just have to trust the sales rep on the other end of the telephone who now has our address, credit card CVV number, and our mother’s maiden name (for identification purposes, of course), but as an episode of “Law & Order” or “Catfish” will remind us, that trust is easily, and often broken.

Now that hard drives hold more data, cookies track our every online move, computers in cars record not only when to deploy an airbag but also where we went and how fast we drove to get there, it’s hard not to hold tight to the fear that Big Brother is not only watching, but is saving, downloading, and backing up every aspect of our lives.

But in the midst of googols of Googles (more data than we can count, in layman’s terms), there is a method to the (perceived) madness. There is a system of principles and rules to regulate intelligence, and it ensures that intelligence works for us instead of against us.

Intelligence And Our Greatest Fears

A survey was conducted in 2015 of the Top 10 Fears of Americans. Did snakes make the list? No. How about wrongful incarceration? No, again. Illness and death didn’t even crack the top ten. What Americans seem to be most afraid of, of all of the bad things in the world— five of the ten relate to ways their lives can be turned upside-down by someone having the right (or wrong) intelligence in their hands:

      Corporate tracking of personal information
      Government tracking of personal information
      Identity theft
      Credit card fraud

Top 10 Fears of 2015
Photo Credit: Chapman University
We are so fearful of losing our autonomy, of having our right to privacy trampled upon, of the disruption to our lives if someone pretends to be us or wants to destroy us, and yet, we so easily to write down passwords where they can be found, save our documents to a cloud we can’t define or explain, share photos of our children on the internet, carry RFID cards in our wallets, tag our locations in real time on social media, and rely on our smartphones to organize and keep “our whole lives” in the palms of our hands.

When was the last time you updated to secure passwords for all of the websites and apps you use? Have you committed to memory a difficult to decipher alarm code, or have you stuck with 1-2-3-4 or the last 4 digits of your birth year? Chances are, you haven’t made these security changes, or you may have invested in an application or program that securely stores your passwords for you. No matter your method, it’s worth nothing that we live in contradictions— we worry about intelligence gathering methods and what will be done with the information gathered about us, but we depend on technologies and methodologies that use machine intelligence (deep learning, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, security codes and patches) to live our lives without the fears stopping us.

Intelligence Gets A Bad Rap

Almost weekly, there are headlines about privacy breeches that send Citizen Average Joe into a frantic frenzy. Take for example this summer’s hottest social digital game, Pokémon GO. Within days of its release, online media flooded our timelines and inboxes with stories not for the faint of heart about coordinated muggings, break-ins, and even discoveries of dead bodies[1], instead of focusing more on tales of friendships forged in parks or how use of the app helped people explore cities and towns in a new, vibrant way.

Or turn on your television and watch the white-knuckling series, “Mr. Robot,” which depicts hactivists for fsociety who use cyber intelligence to try to cancel the world’s consumer debt by bringing down the largest corporation on the planet. (While most of us wouldn’t mind having our credit card debts erased, the implications of this story are incredibly scary, nonetheless).

Photo credit:

The fields of intelligence get a bad rap— cyber intelligence is depicted as hacking by terrorists who will shut down the airlines and power grids. Forensic intelligence is usually tied into criminal intelligence, and shoddy work at crime scenes or with DNA analysis harkening mention of either the O.J. Simpson or the Steven Avery (“Making A Murderer”) cases. The words “signals intelligence” conjure images of RADAR and SONAR involving either a traffic ticket someone feels they were targeted for or profiled to receive, or of finding submarines and espionage like in a Hollywood blockbuster. And of course, human intelligence evokes images of a spy in a trench coat, sharing International secrets in whispers while sitting on a park bench, just before someone’s car blows ups.

The movie, television, and book publishing industries fuel our fears surrounding intelligence, and it’s mainly because they go for the entertainment value by hyping fantasy and imagination with few truths (or by exaggerating really true stories). Not to mention the media with their 24-hour news cycles and online publications giving you stories at your fingertips which sensationalize factual incidents in the intelligence world simply by nature of their repeated cycles and easy access.

As any psychologist or therapist can tell you, it’s not only important to examine what you fear, but what planted the seed of fear in you to begin with.

Protection All Around You

So, do we really have just cause to be so mystified by who we think is watching and tracking us?
As it turns out, intelligence methodology actually provides protection all around you, often in ways that you take for granted.

Let’s look at these examples:

Gmail activity report


When you check your email, your IP address and location are being tracked. This isn’t to make it easy for someone working in a plush Google office to be able to track your whereabouts, but to give you, the user, more power in maintaining the security of your account. View your last account activity details to verify that no one else is poking around there. Google, as well as other applications, services, and websites, uses 2-step verification, whereby the user registers with a phone number connected to the account and will receive a message in the event of suspicious activity (like a log in from another device).


For every channel airing niche programming on our televisions, satellites also beam unfathomable types and amounts of data back to Earth, and it’s all so mysterious because we don’t much know about any of it. We can imagine how the use of such data is useful to nations and their militaries, but consider this: images from satellites can help predict poverty by viewing areas up close.[2]  Such intelligence will not only help aid workers, but will save money and other resources which can be redirected to helping people who need them the most.

-Closed Circuit Television (CCTV):

Quite popular (plentiful) in the United Kingdom, CCTVs are the epitome of the negative image of Big Brother spying on you. However, a 2009 analysis titled "Public Area CCTV and Crime Prevention: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis[3]," examined 44 studies that surveyed areas from the United Kingdom to large U.S. cities, and reported significant decreases in different crimes. CCTVs gather intelligence and “are effective at deterring and solving crime, and that appropriate regulation and legal restrictions on surveillance of public spaces can provide sufficient protections”[4]

And while already developed, the future of identification lies in technological advancements paired with intelligence: retinal scans to gain access to your safe deposit box, fingerprint pads to unlock doors and even firearms for safety.

However, these ways of protecting people and property were not developed solely as technological advancements; again, they were conceived, developed, implemented, and tested through the employ of intelligence methods; more specifically, scientific ones.

“We must revisit the idea that science is a methodology and not an ontology.”
Intelligence is a science[5], and the Scientific Methods helps intelligence analysts arrive at better conclusions in terms of using that intelligence to keep people safe.

As we may remember from school, the Scientific Method is an ongoing process with these steps:

   Make observations
   Think of interesting questions
   Formulate hypothesis
   Develop testable predictions
   Gather data to test predictions
   Refine, alter, expand or reject hypothesis
   Develop general theories

“Intelligence analysts need to make sense of seemingly chaotic data, to see patterns in behavior and events, and to ascertain possible relationships by observing connections among things that might otherwise seem disconnected.”[6]The Scientific Method is the gold standard regarding intelligence methodology.

To Serve And Protect: The Law As A Methodology

In our blog post, “What Is Intelligence?” we pointed out that “Information obtained from intelligence should not exist just for data’s sake; it needs to meet a goal.”

In addition to all of the technological advances in place and on the horizon to protect us from our fears of identity theft and cyber terrorism, we have another, more familiar intelligence methodology— the “old school” regulatory system of the law. After the science comes regulation and compliance for meeting the goal of intelligence. A legal basis for the intelligence work must be present from the onset.

In the United States, there are roughly 20 national privacy and data security laws, with hundreds more in individual states to assuage those top fears of Americans. Analysts must comply by rules, seek warrants when needed for access to private information, and safeguards must be in place and utilized to secure data.

A snapshot of privacy laws in the USA relating to intelligence gathering of private information:

Photo credit:

The large range of companies regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (‘FTC’) are subject to enforcement if they engage in materially unfair or deceptive trade practices. The FTC has used this authority to pursue companies that fail to implement reasonable minimal data security measures, fail to live up to promises in privacy policies, or frustrate consumer choices about processing or disclosure of personal data.
US privacy laws and self regulatory principles vary widely, but generally require pre collection notice and an opt out for use and disclosure of regulated personal information.
Opt‑in rules apply in special cases involving information that is considered sensitive under US law, such as for health information, use of credit reports, student data, personal information collected online from children under 13 (see below for the scope of this requirement), video viewing choices, precise geolocation data, and telecommunication usage information. The FTC interprets as a "deceptive trade practice" failing to obtain opt in consent if a company engages in materially different uses or discloses personal information not disclosed in the privacy policy under which personal information was collected. It has, for example, sued to prevent disclosure of personal data as apart of several bankruptcy proceedings.

States impose a wide range of specific requirements, particularly in the employee privacy area. For example, a significant number of states have enacted employee social media privacy laws, and, in 2014 and 2015, a disparate array of education privacy laws.
The US also regulates marketing communications extensively, including telemarketing, text message marketing, fax marketing and email marketing (which is discussed below). The first three types of marketing are frequent targets of class action lawsuits for significant statutory damages.
Violations are generally enforced by the FTC, State Attorneys General, or the regulator for the industry sector in question. Civil penalties are generally significant. In addition, some privacy laws (for example, credit reporting privacy laws, electronic communications privacy laws, video privacy laws, call recording laws, cable communications privacy laws) are enforced through class action lawsuits for significant statutory damages and attorney’s fees.  Defendants can also be sued for actual damages for negligence in securing personal information such as payment card data, and for surprising and inadequately disclosed tracking of consumers.
-Data Protection Laws Around The World

While what we see and hear about cyber, human, criminal, and visual intelligence (to name a few) may frighten us, it’s important to lift the veil and see that it’s not magical, it’s methodological. Take stock of all of the safety and security mechanisms in place in your life and remember how they came to be— via intelligence methodology— and rest easier and assured that Big Brother isn’t looking at you; he’s looking out for you.

Intrigued? Be sure to follow us to learn more in our series on Intelligence.
You can also learn more about the data protection laws of the world at

[2] Using the methodology of inductive reasoning, in this case, involves synthesizing a sufficient number of intelligence indicators to arrive at a reasonable conclusion or hypothesis that the enemy unit will attack.


[6] James Bruce, Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations.

Aug 23, 2016

Aug 23, 2016

Careers in Intelligence

intelligence training, field agents, FBI
Popular television series like “Homeland,” “Quantico,” and the BBC/WGBH series “Sherlock” give us insight into the careers and job aspects of men and women who work in various disciplines of intelligence.

While the popular trope associates a job in intelligence with either being a government agent or a computer wiz, there are many other opportunities for intelligent and skilled individuals to work in exciting positions in the world of intelligence.

Let’s investigate and learn more about who really works in intelligence and what they do.

They Aren’t All James Bond

Not everyone who works in intelligence is dapper and daring, ready to travel the world on missions to gather intel with the help of hi-tech gadgets and fast cars. It might surprise you to know that they often have skills and interests much like yours, and lead ordinary (although exciting and fulfilling in different ways) lives that often keep them grounded to their hometowns and communities.
The number of women working in intelligence is growing (making up nearly 50% of the workforce), with the CIA currently campaigning to encourage more women to join the Agency.[1] Women have been promoted to five of the CIA's top eight positions, indicating that gender is not an obstacle to entry or success in this field.

Women are leaders at the CIA
Photo Credit: and NBC

Sadly, while women seem to hold equal footing at the CIA, the same can not be said regarding other types of diversity. The numbers of racial and religious minorities working there have been abysmal, sparking a new mission to make vast improvements.[2]

If They Aren’t Spies or Hackers, What Do They Do?

People who work in intelligence can be: 
  • Accountants
  • Analysts[3]
  • Computer/Technical Specialists
  • Economists
  • Engineers
  • Linguists
  • Managers and Administrators
  • Mathematicians
  • Psychologists
  • Researchers
  • Scientists
  • and much more.

Intelligence at work: Behavioral Analysts, Linguists, Tech Specialists, and agents on “Criminal Minds”. Image Credit:

There are thousands of jobs in intelligence, with opportunities for all kinds of professionals.[4]

As we discussed in “What is Intelligence?”, intelligence is not limited to cyber intelligence or human intelligence— there are jobs for chemists in forensic intelligence, technical specialists in signals intelligence, actuaries in financial intelligence, etc.

What Are Their Qualifications?

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), as well as education and experience meeting a high standard are required to work in intelligence.

Employees in intelligence usually have academic degrees in their intelligence discipline, and have demonstrated expertise in their filed.
Skills needed to work in intelligence:

  • Analytic methodologies
  • Communication skills (oral and written)
  • Research methods
  • Teamwork
  • Working with structured and unstructured data
  • Cognitive abilities and skills
  • and more.

Intelligence process resembles a puzzle – bits of data are gathered from various information sources in different formats. One needs analytical skills in order to bring all the pieces together and solve the puzzle.

People who work in intelligence are also subject to:
  • IQ tests
  • Health examinations
  • Personality tests
  • Criminal background checks
  • Periodical clearance procedure
  • Vetting through interviews of family, friends, co-workers, schools, and financial institutions.
Sensitive information (e.g., DNA for criminal testing, government secrets related to espionage, financial account information in fraud cases) must be treated according to protocol, and intelligence agencies and institutions want to ensure that their employees are of high moral character, are fully capable, and have the personal intelligence (the “head for it”) to handle the intel they work with in their professions. [5]

By Tech. Sgt. Dave Nolan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are also pieces of information that are shared between a very limited number of privies only (may be even as less as 2 or 3). As a rule, such an information is always very classified and it has direct impact on national security. Being a privy requires the highest level of self-discipline and assumption since some critical decisions have to be made in a real time.

Where Do They Work?

In addition to working for law enforcement and government agencies (armed forces, police, customs, INTERPOL for domestic and foreign intelligence), intelligence employees also work in other sectors:

  • Private investigation firms
  • Banks
  • Insurance companies
  • Defense contractors
  • Private corporations
Private intelligence agencies also exist, such as Egeria in Canada, Terrogence and Black Cube in Israel and the UK, AEGIS in the UK, and Kroll in the USA. Since the September 11th terror attacks on the USA, the use of private sector intelligence has greatly increased.[6]

People of myriad backgrounds and interests work in intelligence, and while making the cut can be challenging, those who do are highly skilled professionals who are working to discover and defend us all.


Ready for more? Be sure to bookmark and follow us for our next blog post in this series to learn more about intelligence.

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

What Is Intelligence?

Since Colossus (the first programmable computer) was created in 1943, computers have been
associated with military codes, spying, and sensitive data. As the machines grew smaller and entered our homes and then our pockets, they have brought people together across the globe with quick access to information. But as more of the world goes online, we’ve become more aware that our information, our actions, our clicks can be collected, saved, and our digital footprints may never disappear.

When we think of intelligence, we often think of this cyber intelligence or of International spies, and we are faced with dread and worry; yet, we may not really understand what intelligence is, how it is utilized, and who is really analyzing our data.

Let’s take an introductory look at what intelligence really is and how it can actually benefit you.

Old Images of Intelligence Stay With Us

In the 1983 tech thriller, “War Games,” pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick inadvertently hacked into a United States military computer in his spare time after school. The most memorable scene that terrified viewers who were just beginning to have IBM, Commodore, and Apple computers in their homes was when the supercomputer eerily asked him, “Shall we play a game?” in an attempt to start World War III with a high-stakes game of computer chess. The movie was a breakout hit for young Broderick, and it also thrust computer hacking and intelligence gathering into the public Cold War consciousness.

In the 30-plus years since “War Games” hit the big screen, we’ve seen “Sneakers”, with the famous line, “The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by little ones and zeroes, little bits of data.” We’ve seen Sandra Bullock get entangled in a web of computer espionage in “The Net.”  We’ve seen “The Matrix” trilogy, “Firewall”, and “Swordfish”, which let us know in no uncertain terms: “The best crackers in the world can do this under 60 minutes”, but it’s possible for someone to wreak havoc via a keyboard in only 60 seconds.

Even when presented as bumbling cartoons like Boris and Natasha or Spy vs. Spy, we think of intelligence gatherers and the information they collect with trepidation. We have been programmed to fear computers, their intricate inner-workings, and those who know how to manipulate computers and data collected from them. While the images on celluloid scare us, we’re also being protected by digital intelligence and the many other kinds of intelligence while we work, play, and sleep.

Intelligence Defined

Intelligence is defined in the simplest terms as “the tracking, analyzing and countering of security threats.” As Hollywood has shown us, intelligence can be used by bad guys for bad means, but as you’ll learn from our blog series, intelligence is more often used by the ones in the white hats whose mission is to protect us all.

Information gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance have military roots and intelligence is  grounded in defense. The U.S. Department of Justice defines intelligence as “a product and process from collecting, processing, analyzing, and using information to meet an identified goal.” Intelligence TTP (tactics, techniques, and procedures) are enlisted for that goal, which is to protect citizens from existing and potential threats.

Types of Intelligence

In this series, we will delve deeper into:

  • Cyber Intelligence/Digital Network Intelligence (CYBINT/DNINT)- information gathered from cyberspace
  • Criminal Intelligence (CRIMINT)- used by law enforcement agencies
  • Forensic Intelligence - employing science-backed data to create links for investigating crimes
  • Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)- collection of satellite and aerial photographs, sensors, radar, and lasers
  • Financial Intelligence (FININT)- understanding and predicting an entity’s financial affairs and capabilities
  • Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) - gathering of information from public sources

These are some of the most exciting and impactful types of intelligence that people find to be interesting and have some affect on their daily lives.

But what else is there?

You are probably most familiar with the precursor to digital intelligence, the pre-computer age, spy game, Human Intelligence (HUMINT). Human intelligence is mostly positive in nature, although there is some counterintelligence value. Information gleaned from human intelligence includes “observations during travel or other events from travelers, refugees, escaped friendly POWs, etc. It can provide data on things about which the subject has specific knowledge, which can be another human subject, or, in the case of defectors and spies, sensitive information to which they had access. Finally, it can provide information on interpersonal relationships and networks of interest.” [1]

Three other basic intelligence disciplines are:

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) - investigation of signals by people or electronic communications
Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) - detecting, tracking, and identifying characteristics of targets
Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) - analysis about human activities on Earth

There’s also Medical Intelligence (MEDINT), Meteorological Intelligence, traffic analysis, cryptanalysis (deciphering hidden messages), and more. The world of intelligence is vast, and is not limited to military efforts or computers with internet connections.

How Intelligence Benefits You

On a day-to-day, more personal level, intelligence: 
  • protects your computer from viruses
  • keeps nefarious criminals from accessing your bank account
  • combats theft and fraud that consequently raise the prices you pay
  • makes your internet searches faster and more accurate
  • introduces you to new friends via popular apps like Pokémon GO
  • makes your travels safer
  • helps you to stay healthy
  • and can even keep you from getting “Catfished” in online dating.

Intelligence in the News

Intelligence gathering has been in major recent headlines. After 14 people were killed and almost two dozen were injured in a shooting attack in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, the FBI went after Apple in an attempt to extract data from the shooter’s iPhone. It was a big, precident-setting case about intelligence gathering and privacy. Ultimately, the FBI was able to access the iPhone with help from a source other than Apple, but not without us debating Apple’s stance on their customers’ privacy and information gathering techniques[2].  There are goals, ethics, and mores involved in every aspect of intelligence, and a tech giant like Apple has proven to us that subjects and their privacy should not be compromised.

Another example is the July 2016 leak of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails by alleged Russian hackers which asserts wrongdoing and conspiracy against Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders by his own political party. [3]

Intelligence is also not always utilized as it could or should be. Take for example the insurance industry. There are technological gaps, legacy systems, lacks of updates in systems and training, and other resources so that in 2012, a ring of fraudsters ran a $275 million dollar scam, spanning real and fake car accidents, doctors, three guys named Mike, and the FBI.[4]  Better intelligence methods could have detected this fraud long before the claims and numbers racked up at the cost of honest insurance policy holders and administrators.

Look Forward Without Fear

Information obtained from intelligence should not exist just for data’s sake; it needs to meet a goal. “Dragnet type intelligence operations hinder analysts and negatively impact security.[5]”   Ever since “Big Brother” became a part of our vernacular (and sometimes, in some places, a part of our reality) from George Orwell’s 1949 science fiction novel 1984, citizens have been concerned with how much our governments know about us, how our actions can be tracked, and what about us can (or should) remain private.

Whether intelligence is used against someone in a negative way (theft by fraud and cyber hacking), in a positive way (to protect innocents against threats), or in a negative way for positive means (hacks by Anonymous group to expose corruption), we have more to benefit from intelligence than to fear. Intelligence isn’t just a game of chess, and maybe the next generation of movies will show more of us being saved and helped because of it.


Intrigued? Be sure to follow us to learn more in our series on Intelligence.
You can also explore the topic in-depth with this Reading List:

Jul 6, 2016

Jul 6, 2016

Beauty & the Beast at DIA Barcelona

When an avid crossfit and boxing enthusiast shows up with a geek at DIA Barcelona what can be the end result?


This is exactly what DIA Barcelona experienced when getmeIns showed up in the form of Eugene and Dmitry.

Eugene a well-dressed, dark-haired, sport enthusiast and insurance expert and Dmitry an unassuming, freckled, red-haired software architect specializing in intelligent systems landed in Barcelona to shake up not just DIA but the entire insurance industry.
Eugene Greenberg
One of them is known as “The Beast”. Can you guess which one?

Yes, looks are deceiving. And this is exactly the problem insurance companies face today when processing claims.

GetmeIns is a mobile-first platform developed to prevent insurance fraud before it reaches the claims process.

Why would this be necessary?

According to AON Risk Study, 9th Edition, Insurance companies no longer make money on their main business and one of the leading causes is the increase in their loss ratio primarily due to fraudulent claims.

In their presentation at DIA Barcelona, Dmitry aka “the Beast” walks the audience through a demo of the getmeins platform which uses predictive learning, link analysis, photogrammetry and text analytics and user behavior in order to identify potential fraud patterns.

With this strategic knowledge insurance companies are now able to move away from assumption based quotation to that based on real user behavior. “Our goal is to combat potential fraud at the point of sale instead of the point of claim,” explains Eugene. “And we achieve this using the same tactics as that used in fighting terrorism,” he ends before handing the reigns to his partner Dmitry.
Dmitry Geyzersky

To prevent a terrorist attack, the intelligence units must be able to identify potential terrorist patterns. In order to do so they examine user behavior, link analysis and text analytics among other features and then create a scenario that basically tells a story about an individual or group of individuals’ activities and intentions.

This approach when applied to the insurance claims process also helps significantly reduce the number of fraudulent claims which is now estimated to be costing the industry and the consumer hundreds of millions of dollars.

Insurance fraud is a terrorist act,” stresses Eugene. “Therefore we must fight these perpetrators with the same strategies we use when dealing with risk of human life,” he advocates.

The added value of getmeIns, unlike other solutions which focus primarily on discovering fraud, is that it creates a win-win situation for both the insurance company and the consumer. Preventing fraud at the point of sale reduces the number of resources required to authenticate a claim which can then be passed on as cost savings to policy holders.

To view the entire presentation at DIA-Barcelona, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about getmeIns contact us at

Jun 5, 2016

Jun 5, 2016

Insurance Fraud As A Terrorist Activity - The Intelligence Point of View


As many of us already know, insurance fraud is defined as anyone who seeks to benefit from insurance through making false claims of loss or injury. This may occur when a claimant attempts to obtain some kind of benefit or advantage to which they are not otherwise entitled, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due.

How common is insurance fraud? According to a recent research, conducted by AXA, we’re talking about one in three people (!) have committed insurance fraud. Needless to say, the true scale of this problem is not shown, as many people would never openly admit to breaking the law.

So, you’re probably asking yourselves; how can we combat insurance fraud? First of all: you’re not. You’re not going to combat insurance fraud, you’re going to treat it carefully. We’re talking about understanding the situation, seeing the bigger picture and realizing the scale of this phenomena. Then, you’ll have to start treating insurance fraud as if it was a terrorist activity -  specifically meaning that you are not fighting an army or specific country, you’re fighting guerrilla-style criminals, individuals and double agents. As an Israeli company, we’re surrounded by some of the best and most inspiring intelligence agencies/personnel. We allow ourselves to brag that there is no better country in the world in combating terrorist activity, and by combating we mean; going through the entire intelligence cycle - collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and feedback. Just like a military operation, we’re using different types of intelligence, whether it be HUMINT (Human Intelligence), SIGINT (Signal Intelligence), OSINT (Open Source Intelligence), or everything together in order to gather the data that is further utilized by our analytical engine. In order to bring all pieces of data to a common denominator and make them usable by computer systems, we at GetMeIns use ubiquitous language (or ‘ontology’) in our insurance process.

Ontology has its roots in philosophy and deals with the question “What really exists?”. It defines entities, relationships between them, various concepts or ideas describing some aspects of specific domain (in our case, insurance). With the help of ontology and domain modelling techniques, we define the fundamental categories or classes into which various objects we encounter during the information retrieval process usually fall.
There is an ongoing process of knowledge crunching that leads to discovery of new concepts and, as a result, new entities and attributes that enrich our ontology.

Using ontology helps us make data fusion from multiple information sources to accomplish a puzzle. And when all the pieces of a puzzle are in place we can eventually predict the next fraud case! In future posts we’ll elaborate more on information discovery process and ontology analysis.  

Utilizing the intelligence approach allows us to gather the necessary data and analyze when there’s still time to act (as opposed to after the claim, which is what generally exists in today’s market).

Our next blog-post will focus more on the different types of insurance fraud and how to combat them. We’ll discuss some of our unique working methods and tools and explain our different approach.

May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016

Blog Intro

Welcome to getmeIns’ official blog! We’re excited to launch our blog section and we would like to welcome all of you to follow us regularly.

So, let’s start by explaining who we are, and what we do.

getmeIns is a mobile-first platform that utilizes behavioral analytics, link analysis, machine learning, and advanced visual algorithms to promote a more personalized insurance, while simultaneously detecting potential fraud at point of sale (as opposed to at claim, which is what generally exists in today’s market).

Why are we writing this blog? 
First, insurance fraud is much more common and destructive than most people would like to believe. In fact, we believe that insurance fraud is so destructive that it should be examined as terrorist activity.  We want to share our knowledge and experience with all of you, we want the world to get a better understanding of what insurance fraud is, why is it relevant to all of us, what types of fraud are out there and how can we combat this phenomena.

What are we going to talk about? On our blog we’re going to discuss the complexities involved in insurance fraud, along with intelligence, trends, different strategies to combat fraud, and our observations regarding the insurtech and fintech industries.

We’ll be more than happy to hear your feedback along the way and engage with all our readers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

So stay tuned to our blog for the latest, and make sure to subscribe!