Title: Event (SIGINT)

Release Date: 2015-09-25

Description: This undated page from GCHQ’s internal GCWiki provides a definition of “event”, the term the agency uses to refer to a metadata record, showing the variety of data collected: see the Intercept article Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities, 25 September 2015.

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Event (SIGINT)

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An Event within a SIGINT context refers to a phenomenon, something observable at a given time.
Typically, an event results from a direct observation of an electronic communication of some form but it
could also result from other sources.

Events contain only metadata and do not contain message content. Sometimes there are grey areas
between events and content. For example the subject of an e-mail is generally transmitted in the header
portion of the message that contains the Events metadata. However the subject can be considered Content
because it reveals information about the purpose of the message (as is the current interpretation).

There are generally fewer legal restrictions about the collection and processing of events than content
items. This is one enabler of events bulk collection and retention, which is not generally possible with


• 1 Event Granularity

• 2 Types of Event

o 2.1 Comms Event
o 2.2 Presence Event
o 2.3 Social Event
o 2.4 Geo reference Event

• 3 Derived Events

o 3.1 Convergence
o 3.2 Corrcllation

• 4 Events Databases

• 5 Interface Control Documents (ICDs)

o 5.2 Actor Action (AA)

• 6 See Also

feditl Event Granularity

More than one definition of an event is in use. In HAUSTORIUM (Now Decommissioned and replaced
with SOCIAL ANTHROPOID) an event normally has the granularity of a single message. The
observation of an e-mail constitutes a single event, even though the e-mail may be addressed to many
people. Other projects may define an event in a slightly different way. For example several distinctevents-p2-normal.gif:
communications involved in sending a single message may each form a separate event.

On occasion single events can end up being split into multiple events because of the nature of the
intercept mechanism. For example an e-mail may be split into individual messages by Mail Transport
Agents when delivering a single message to multiple destinations. This can result in the appearance of
multiple events depending on the point at which the event was intercepted.

Conversely, an event can be the summarisation of many individual transactions, taking place over a long
period of time. For example, instant messaging text chat events in HAUSTORIUM arc actually the
summarisation of a scries of separate messages, each of indicates people joining and leaving the chat,
inviting others and accepting invitations etc. The final event that is presented to the analyst shows only the
group list of people involved, in order to avoid swamping the analyst in huge numbers of separate trivial
rows of data.

[edit] Types of Event

Example Event types from Mobile traffic

Events have traditionally been categorised according to the technology involved - Telephony. C2C and
Geo. GCHQ is currently developing a more activity-centric (and technology agnostic) view based on
types such as:

• Communications (Comms) Events

• Presence Events

• Geo reference Events

The Mobile Applications Project have drawn up a diagram showing the relationships between some
example event types: RightArrow.jpg

[edit] Comms Event

A Communications or Comms Event occurs when one party communicates with another. Comms Event
types include:

• Telephone calls, both landlinc and mobile

• C2C telephony: VoIP and SIP

• Correspondence: sending and reading emails, including wcbmail

[edit] Presence Event

Presence Events are defined by the INTERSTELLAR DUST ICD - sec 1DUST (PPF App). This

• Presence TDIs - real world events where there is an active user (e.g. logging into a website,
requesting a web page)

• Google Maps and Earth events - where the active user has requested a map tile

• HTTP Get and Post - where the user has requested a web page

• Web search events - where the active user has searched for something (e.g. in google)

• Telephony presence (i.c. location updates, or other location information about the active user
contained in the signalling)

[edit] Social Eventevents-p3-normal.gif:
Social events arc currently being defined by the new Actor-Action ICD - see PPF APPS Actor Action
Event. Still in draft, this is to cover events where the user is interacting with a subject (c.g. another
communicant or object). There is no need for an active user in these events. Examples arc various, but
could include:

• Webmail

• Chat

• Mobile apps will form new actions within the model c.g. User X sends MMS to User Y

[editl Geo reference Event

Geo Reference Events provide information about the global communications network.

They will be geo-labelled using SAMREF or GEOFUS1QN as appropriate using the standard geo label
(as agreed by the Geo Team).

[editl Derived Events

Once some events have been collected, various analytics can be applied to derive useful relationships
between them:

feditl Convergence

ArrowRight.png See main article — Conversed Events

Converged Events is the association of events from different SIGINT universes, such as Telephony and
C2C, for a given target.

feditl Correlation

TDIs from collected events can be correlated together to form correlation records (c.g. in HARD ASSOC
between IMSI-TDI)

[editl Events Databases

GCHQ Events databases

Eye Icon.png See also — Query focused dataset

• SOCIAL ANTHROPOID - C2C Comms and Social events QFD. has replaced HAUSTORIUM.

• SALAMANCA - Telephony events. Due to be subsumed into SOCIAL ANTHROPOID.

• NGE Input Buffer - C2C events warehouse. User access is not usually direct, but via one of the

NSA Events databases and systems


• BANYAN - Telephony events

• MAINWAY - contact chaining

The NSA systems and databases above derive their metadata from the FASCIA data repositoryevents-p4-normal.gif:

Old Events databases

• TEEDALE was superseded by P1LBEAM which in turn was superseded by HAUSTORIUM

• HAUSTORIUM - C2C events

[edit! Interface Control Documents (ICDs)

Events arc forwarded in a format specified in an ICD. Traditionally each database, c.g. SALAMANCA or
HAUSTORIUM, has had its own ICD. With the arrival of QFDs and the requirement for Convergence it
is becoming necessary for ICDs to focus on the Event type rather than any specific database.

The most important new ICDs in use are:


• Actor Action (AA)


ArrowRight.png See main article — INTERSTELLAR DUST

IDUST was the first ICD capable of covering new GTDIs (Presence Events}. It is a Single-Line Record
(SLR) format.

Each Event type is specified individually in the ICD. They include:

• Presence Events (for MUTANT BROTH, AUTOASSOC)

• Google Maps/Earth (for MARBLED GECKO)


• HTTP Host Rcferer (for HR MAP)

• Web Search (for MEMORY HOLE)

• VBulletin (for INFINITE MONKEYS)

• Social Networks (for SOCIAL ANIMAL)

• Auto TDI (for AUTO TDI)



feditl Actor Action (AA)

ArrowRight.png See main article — PPF APPS Actor Action Event

AA is the newest ICD. It provides a generic schema allowing for different types of Event. It is replacing
the old CorrcspondcnccData, PrcscnccData, IMData and IMdataOffbox formats while new event types arc
also being developed, for example for Mobile Apps. Some IDUST Events arc also likely to migrate across
to AA, while others may remain in IDUST format.

AA is initially intended to cover Presence and Communication (Social) Events only:

• Presence (GTDI) (for HARD ASSOC, evolved MUTANT BROTH)

• Communication (for SOCIAL ANTHROPOID)

Protocols and Apps currently adopting AA format include:events-p5-normal.gif:
• email: SMTP, POP3. IMAP, Wcbmail (inc Mobile),

• messaging: IM (ICQ), MMS

• VoIP: SIP, H323

• GTP: Gn, Gp (GRX)

• General Apps: Google Mobile Maps, BlackBerry

[edit] See Also

• Operational Legalities Policy FAQ for Events

• Where is My Event for more info on why you may or may not see events data on your target.

• Next Generation Events (NGE) project

• TDB Events Product Centre


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