Facebook: Amazon Is Shifting Gears and May Be Grinding Toward Social Media Land

June 19, 2019

The zippy 2019 news cycle is writing about Facebook: Its digital currency, a thriller for those working to enforce assorted rules and regulations about money. Facebook’s trust issues percolate in the stories as well; for example, “Facebook’s Crypto currency Has a Trust Problem,” which explains — well, obviously — Facebook’s method of saying one thing and just chugging along mostly doing what it wants to do. One must not overlook the legal tussles like the Cambridge Analytica matter; for example, “The Cambridge Analytica Debacle: A Legal Primer.” Exciting stuff.

There was an announcement which the DarkCyber team noted; specifically, “Game Streaming Site Twitch Buys Social Network Bebo.” Yawn. Bebo, a social media service founded in 2005. That’s so yesterday. Bebo pivoted to social apps, but that did not work out as planned. Then Bebo tried a hashtag messaging app. The idea was that a message had content and it had user assigned index terms just like Twitter. More recently, Bebo has dabbled in young people playing games. Think intramural sports with games like Fortnite. Bowling leagues for people who prefer digital games to those which can result in two a days, bruises, and rides on a team bus.

Wikipedia provides more details of the Bebo trajectory. The reports about this deal like “Amazon’s Twitch Acquired Social Networking Platform Bebo for up to $25 million to Bolster Its Esports Efforts” hit the basics:

  • Twitch will be buying pizzas for the Bebo team
  • Amazon paid an alleged $25 million for the Bebo property (fungible and intellectual property like Monkey Inferno)
  • Hope for the future.

DarkCyber’s view of the deal is mostly in line with the publicly available news reports. However, Amazon has access to data about Twitch, including outputs from users who exchange messages, inputs from “creators” or “live streamers” who want special features without having to arm wrestle with third party software, and Amazon’s own big thinkers who understand that “games” are not part of the fabric of outfits like Amazon, Facebook, and — are you ready for it? — Netflix.

There are also implications for intelligence and law enforcement and, of course, for Facebook, a digital country with its own fledgling sovereign currency. The Bezos bulldozer might be making tracks for Palo Alto to redevelop a certain billionaire’s compound.

Stephen E Arnold, June 19, 2019

Amazonia for June 17, 2019

June 17, 2019

With travel and a crazy eye doctor appointment, Amazonia snagged a handful of highlights. Enjoy the bulldozer’s path from 30,000 feet.

Amazon Is Okay with a Break Up

DarkCyber noted an interesting report from CNBC. One DarkCyber research professional thought this announcement was a green light for regulators to create one or more additional Fortune 100 companies by dismantling some of the Bezos bulldozer’s accessories. CNBC reported as “real” news:

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon’s cloud business, said Monday that, although he doesn’t see clear benefits for Amazon Web Services spinning off from the rest of the company, if the U.S. government were to force that move, then Amazon would have to comply.

The information flowed from an interview with talk overs from Kara Swisher, who has become the “voice” of Silicon Valley deep thinkers. The story also included these statements:

Jassy has often been asked if Amazon could be planning to separate AWS and turn it into its own business. Historically, Jassy has said no. On Monday he said he still felt there were no major obvious advantages to such a move. He added that customers should not want it to happen because having to do things like hold earnings calls could distract from more important tasks such as keeping cloud services functioning at a high level.

Does Amazon Record Children via Alexa?

An interesting write up appeared in Gizmodo. Online news, of course, may not be “real,” but you can decide for yourself. Just read “Lawsuits Claim Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant Illegally Records Children Without Consent.” The write up states:

the complaint argues that Amazon saves “a permanent recording of the user’s voice” as well as records and transmits clips of anything said after Alexa’s “wake word” is uttered. It also claims that Alexa neither informs users that these permanent recordings will be created nor bothers to ask for their consent beforehand…

DarkCyber will monitor this allegation.

Amazon Is Fine with Regulating Facial Recognition

Phys.org reported:

Amazon has joined the ranks of other technology companies, including Microsoft and Google, in acknowledging the risks of facial-recognition software and calling on the federal government to impose national regulations on the technology.

Amazon Financial Shifts into Low Gear

In my Amazon Policeware lectures, I talk about the way in which financial information “snaps in” to services for government authorities. Think in terms of IRS investigations, credit and background checks, and similar services delivered from GovCloud. Against this background, consider Amazon’s new credit card. The Amazon bulldozer’s push is for people with poor credit who want and need an Amazon credit card. Once the territory of the Vanilla pre-paid bank card and similar “financial” services, the Amazon offering is significant. Marketwatch stated:

Like many other retail cards, however, the Amazon Credit Build card can only be used for Amazon purchases, making it a “closed-loop” card.

Seems like a drawback, right? Maybe not. Individuals with poor credit are often difficult to profile like a high net worth Silicon Valley one percenter. The card has hooks to Amazon Prime, a useful way to obtain information about certain card users’ video viewing preferences.

The article points out:

“Secured credit cards are my favorite cards for folks who are getting started with credit or rebuilding it,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards.com. “They’re a great training-wheels card because there’s so little risk involved. After all, with typical credit lines of $200 or $250, there’s only so wild you can go with your spending.”

DarkCyber sees this one more interesting option bolted to the Bezos bulldozer. Unlike some of Amazon’s efforts in food delivery and operating in a “green” manner, this credit card play will be a useful probe for Amazon. If successful, perhaps after the bulldozer blazes a new trail, additional financial services will take root?

Amazon’s Blink XT2 Goes Dark

The Verge reported that the Amazon phone’s demons haunt the XT2. The XT2 is a video camera which garnered “mixed reviews.” Amazon wants love, gentle reader. As a result:

Amazon has temporarily stopped taking orders for the Blink XT2 smart camera that it launched last month. The XT2, which is Blink’s first new camera since Amazon acquired the company, is listed as “currently unavailable” for purchase. That applies to all configurations, including the single camera and multicamera kits. The Verge has reached out to Amazon for comment. Best Buy, which also carries the new camera, simply lists it as “coming soon”online, but some people have been able to buy it at their local stores.

The Blink XT2 may return. Amazon is still selling the Amazon Cloud Cam to Ring’s smart camera lineup. And DeepLens? Not mentioned in the write up.

Amazon’s Food Home Delivery Choked Out

Geekwire reported that Amazon has shut down its food delivery business. DarkCyber has never used Amazon’s or another other food delivery service. The fact that Amazon has offered the service since 2015 was “real” news for us. The service started in Seattle and then became available in more than 20 US cities and London, according to Geekwire. The write up points out:

The closure of Amazon Restaurants after investing serious time and money in the service is a rare retreat from the e-commerce behemoth.

As Amazon “dabbled,” Geekwire notes:

Uber Eats, which launched more than three years ago and is live in 500 cities globally, generated $1.46 billion in revenue last year, up from $587 million in 2017, and brought in $536 million during the first quarter of 2019…. Grubhub, meanwhile, saw revenues reach $324 million for the first quarter, up 39 percent year-over-year, though its operating margin dipped by more than 10 percent, The Motley Fool noted.

For Amazon’s competitors failure may be a delightful Amazon take away.

Amazon Personalize for Everyone

ClickZ likes Amazon’s personalize service. The article “Amazon’s Famed Recommendation Service Personalize Now Available to Every Application” uses the adjective “famed.” Famed? The write up states:

To utilize this personalization-as-a-service, a publisher provides an activity stream from an application, which can include such data as clicks, page views, signups or purchase history – along with info on the products to be recommended, such as products, videos, songs or articles. Additional user info, including demographic or geographic data, can also be included. AWS said the supplied data is kept private and secure, and only used for that application’s recommendations. The service selects the most appropriate algorithms, trains a personalized machine learning model that is designed for the data, and then hosts and manages the model as it provides the recommendations via an API call. Application owners can control the service through the AWS console, and billing is only for the amount of the service used, with no minimums or upfront fees.

If you want to read Amazon’s own explanation of its announcement, navigate to this link.

But “famed”?

Amazon and Blockchain

The UK insurance outfit Legal and General will use Amazon’s blockchain system for its bulk annuities business. Bulk annuities are what makes some UK pensions tick. “UK Insurer Legal & General Picks Amazon for First Pensions Blockchain Deal” reported:

L&G is only launching the blockchain platform for bulk annuity business outside its core markets of Britain and the United States, although an L&G spokesman said the platform could be extended to those two markets in future.

Amazon’s unique selling proposition is that the insurance company can focus on building new business, not keeping a blockchain up and running.

Another brick in the Amazon bulldozer policeware parking garage? Maybe?

George Mason, Yep, George Mason’s Cloud Degree

DarkCyber thinks this news story, overlooked by “real” media,” is important. The Business Journals reported on June 11, 2019, that the Bezos bulldozer dropped off some Amazon professionals at George Mason University. After talk and pizzas, the university favored by some government types, and Amazon had a deal. Student can enroll in George Mason (for example, some Department of Defense professionals, and after four years of study emerge with a four year cloud computing degree. Some of these cloud savvy professionals will return to the US government and others will join the consulting firms which serve the US government. DarkCyber believes that the cloud service the graduates will be able to make work is AWS. “Amazon Web Services Partners with George Mason on 4 Year Degree Program” states:

The announcement comes a year after AWS rolled out a cloud curriculum-based associate degree program at Northern Virginia Community College.

Amazon is also pumping in $3 million for housing.

Amazon explained it this way:

NOVA and Mason faculty worked with AWS Educate curriculum designers to create a BAS degree path that will equip students with technical skills and hands-on experiences to help prepare them for careers in cloud architecture, cybersecurity, software development, and DevOps. The degree pathway will be launched in fall 2020 as part of the ADVANCE program, the NOVA/Mason partnership that streamlines the path to a four-year degree and entry into the workforce by eliminating traditional transfer obstacles, providing students with additional coaching and financial incentives, and highlighting pathways to high-demand careers. The degree program will be backwards-mapped to in-demand skills along with competency-based credentials required by AWS and other cloud employers. All students will receive membership in the AWS Educate program and gain hands-on, real-world experience with leading cloud technology and tools.

As Yoda may have said, “Plan ahead, young JEDI. Cyber warriors need we soon.”

DarkCyber expects similar deals with NOVA and other nearby universities. We also want to point out that the bulldozer is pushing AWS cloud into community colleges and pre-college education. Computer Weekly reports:

Amazon Web Services joins forces with Career College Trust to create cloud course that will prepare students for entry-level tech jobs or further education at university

And if the money and support are insufficient, Amazon rolled out new badges for student who learn AWS RoboMaker, AWS Sumerian, and AWS Deep Racer. The RoboMaker badge is for creating robots to replace inefficient humanoids. the Sumerian badge is a virtual reality play. The DeepRacer badge is for racing virtual cars on virtual tracks. The game angle is a good way to interest young, hungry minds.

Amazon AWS Fees: Know Before You Sign

DarkCyber wants to point out that the complexity of Amazon’s services are equaled and perhaps outdone by Amazon’s pricing structures. “AWS Costs Every Programmer Should Know” is a useful write up. The article includes information for compute and storage, which often comprise the bulk of the customer attention. DarkCyber believes that similar analyses would be useful for the numerous other services Amazon makes available. Amazon’s pricing complexity and its different approaches to assigning fees to services is a bit of digital left overs. Like the company’s “two pizza teams,” the pricing appears and becomes part of the system. It is possible for a customer to sign up for a service and then forget to disable or simply forget that it was a for fee deal. The Amazon billing system keeps on chugging along. Thus, scope out the costs and think about the bumps in fees when thresholds for data, transaction, or some other operation are crossed. Like the AT&T of old, certain thresholds can add significant amounts to a monthly invoice. And like Ma Bell, the time machine approach to bill adjustments is not 100 percent efficient.

Partners and Resellers

The companies may not be household names, but Amazon is signing up partners and resellers. Selected deals this week:

Information Builders will create and deliver health care data management from the AWS cloud. Source: Yahoo

Pulumi has set up shop to selling “how to” services to future AWS customers. Source: Geekwire

SAIC is now a premier consulting partner for Amazon AWS.

VMware and AWS continue their UK push. The NHS deal is one facet of the plan. The article said: “Last year, VMware extended its public sector commitment by announcing VMware Cloud on AWS GovCloud, a hybrid cloud service designed to enable public sector agencies in the U.S. to leverage a common cloud infrastructure.” Source: Silicon Angle

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2019

Amazon and YouTube: The Hong Kong Protests Mark the Day that Twitch.tv Made Clear the Limitations of YouTube

June 16, 2019

I heard there was a small protest underway in Hong Kong. The time is now 6 30 am US Eastern time. I navigated to YouTube, entered the query “Hong Kong protest”, and I saw links to videos from a day ago (today is June 16, 2019). I navigated to the YouTube “Live” page which provides a limited selection of streaming videos on YouTube. If you have not seen that somewhat incomplete index, navigate to https://www.youtube.com/live. No live stream of the Hong Kong protest.

If it’s not on YouTube, then it doesn’t exist, goes some old times’ catchphrase.

Well, not quite.

Navigate to Amazon’s Twitch.tv. Run a query for Hong Kong. Here’s what I saw before I clicked on the live stream of Unable to Breath.

image

Amazon Twitch.tv search result. The Unable to Breath stream is not one but an aggregate of eight separate feeds from Hong Kong.

Front and center was a link to Unable to Breath, which presents this streaming image:

image

This is a screen shot of a single screen which is eight different feeds showing different views of the handful of people who are participating in the event. Note: Handful means more than one million.

Notice that three are eight live streams of this modest protest. This is one live stream with eight separate views of the modest demonstration in Hong Kong. Eight in one stream! No registration required. No in stream pop up ads. Just high value intelligence in pretty good streaming video quality.

Read more

Microsoft and Oracle: Fear Helps Make New Friends

June 6, 2019

I found “Microsoft, Oracle Team Up on Cloud Services in Jab at Amazon” amusing. The real news outfit Thomson Reuters reported this unusual big company relationship when I was making my way through torrential rain in lovely West Virginia coal country. The mist did disguise the land renewal, but this Microsoft Oracle relationship is going to make for a nifty road trip video.

Imagine. The elegant Larry Ellison and the sleek Satya Nadella explaining how old school databases are the pajamas made for the cool cats. Amazon and Google will pay attention to this odd couple because it makes very visible the fear which both companies have for their database futures. Forget the cloud. We’re talking databases anywhere: On premises, hybrid, in the cloud, or residing in some wonky quantum storage thing yet to be made stable, affordable, and usable by a normal rocket scientist.

The news report does not wax poetic, nor does it offer much in the way of addressing the fear thing. I did note this statement:

The two companies said the high-speed link between their data centers would start with facilities in the eastern United States and spread to other regions. They will also work together to let joint users log into to services from either company with a single user name and get tech support from either company. The move comes as both Oracle and Microsoft are courting large businesses and government customers considering moving computing tasks currently handled in their own data centers to cloud providers.

I would point out that Oracle has chosen to add its legal pointy stick to its approach to database efficacy. Microsoft, on the other hand, is working overtime to explain that it is the solution to a range of data management issues. If one does not think about Microsoft’s struggles to update its Windows operating system, the PR sounds darned convincing.

I wish to offer a couple of observations:

First, Amazon and Google continue to capture the attention of the next generation of innovators. Oh, I know that there are clever Microsoft and Oracle wizards inventing the future at this very moment. But let’s be real: Amazon has an innovation ecosystem. Google may not have the perseverance to make its products work and then “put wood behind” some to make them competitive, but the Google does have a low cost phone and the ability to go off line because of configuration errors. Amazon, on the other hand, is evolving into an innovation platform. I am not sure the database technologies are what makes Amazon attractive to smaller firms and specialists, but Amazon is revving the bulldozer’s engine.

Second, Microsoft and Oracle are “look back” technology providers. I think both companies share many of the adorable traits of Hewlett Packard (any flavor) and IBM. In today’s business environment, which is similar to the weather around Oklahoma City, being old is not what I interpret as a plus.

Third, the two besties have somewhat different personalities. Microsoft wants to be a do gooder. Oracle wants to fly its fighter jet over the San Jose suburbs. Microsoft wants to be the big dog in Seattle. Oracle wants to be relevant. Microsoft wants to avoid the fate of Vista. Oracle wants to keep the myth of the structured query language alive. Amazon and Google, on the other hand, just want to avoid regulation and emulate the business success of pleasant people like JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and a couple of other “good business men.”

To sum up, fear is tough to explain away. The exchange of fraternity rings and an appearance at the fraternity party or the high school reunion is in the future. Town & Country material I believe. Will the two parties dance each dance together at these shindigs?

Stephen E Arnold, June 6, 2019

 

Amazonia for June 3, 2019

June 3, 2019

Many companies are shifting down for the summer months. Not Amazon. The online bookstore slowed its flow of announcements about often confusing Amazon Web Services. DarkCyber noted a few interesting announcements in the last week.

Amazon’s Net Nanny

According to Jeff Bezos’ newspaper, Jeff Bezos will have a net nanny. The idea is that the Federal Trade Commission will keep its eye on the Bezos bulldozer’s GPS coordinates. “Amazon Could Face Heightened Antitrust Scrutiny Under a New Agreement Between U.S. Regulators” reported:

The FTC’s plans for Amazon and the Justice Department’s interest in Google are not immediately clear. But the kind of arrangement brokered between the Justice Department and the FTC typically presages more serious antitrust scrutiny, the likes of which many Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have sought out of fear that tech companies have become too big and powerful.

The lobbyists may have some inputs to provide to assorted government and Beltway professionals. Plus, there’s that JEDI contract. DarkCyber will monitor this interesting, but long-time-coming activity. European regulators have been a bit more spry.

Zero Gravity, Zero Friction: The Payoff from Amazon Advertising

What’s cheaper to deliver now that most of the digital infrastructure is in place? [a] Merchandise or [b] Advertising? The correct answer is [b] Advertising. How does Amazon move in to the ad territory occupied by a soon-to-be-investigated Google? [a] Chop merchants who don’t make Amazon a hefty profit or [b] Buy a company with better ad tech than Amazon currently has? The correct answer is [b] Buy a better ad mousetrap. The tip off is Amazon’s alleged purchase of Sizmek, a hippy dippy spelling of “seismic.” Very hip. According to this report from the surprisingly useful CNBC Web site:

The deal will bring an ad server, which is a tool to actually place advertisements around the web, to Amazon. It will also give Amazon “dynamic creative,” which is an industry term for ads tailored to a consumer’s data. For instance, it could help make ads that are tailored depending on geographical region, stock prices or even the local weather. Sizmek filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

Amazon knows how to chase down a deal. Ah, the GOOG. After years of unfettered excitement, the machinery in Washington lurches forward.

Amazon Telephone & Telegraph

Item is in the Friday, May 31, 2019, DarkCyber at this link.

Amazon’s Clever Little Pre Wake Word

Does Amazon listen to what ifs smart home devices capture? Not sure, but we do know that Amazon wants to have the ability to turn its smart home devices into bugs (listening and surveillance devices). The idea matches seamlessly with the company’s recruiting of a local news editor and some other bits and pieces of the Amazon policeware system. You can read “Pre Wake Word Processing” (US20190156818) at this link. DarkCyber loves the use of the phrase “pre wake” for surveillance.

 Amazon’s Smart Software

Amazon has smart software. One chunk is SageMaker. The fact that some of Amazon’s artificial intelligence cannot spot illegally streamed commercial films and TV shows suggests that artificial intelligence is more easily marketed than implemented in an effective way. Nevertheless, Amazon has added Textract, a name which actually makes it possible to associate the service with its moniker. SageMaker and other smart software needs properly structured content to teach the numerical recipes how to be smart. The idea behind Textract is a, according to Analytics India:

service said to be more than just an optical character recognition algorithm, as it can parse data tables, whole pages, forms, scans, PDFs, photos, and more. Moreover, it also identifies fields and tables, so as to contextualize the data and allow for the collection of cleaner datasets with deeper insights.

Google has filed patents for its smart content acquisition system. Just run queries for R. Guha and A. Halevy (now a Xoogler). Why’s this important? Perhaps Amazon is eager to reduce the cost and time required to make smart software smarter and build the type of datasets which the US Navy covets; for example, 350 billion social media and open source content objects. That’s just for two years of data? There are more years of data to acquire, extract, and analyze. Sounds like something that GovCloud might provide its users.

Amazon’s Smart Software

Amazon’s head of Amazon’s marketing talked about artificial intelligence at an Informatica conference. (I know marketing.) We noted this statement in Silicon Angle: “What we’re trying to do is communicate to the world how our customers are being successful using our technology, specifically machine-learning and AI. It’s one of those things where so many companies want to do it, but they say, “Well, what am I supposed to use it for?” If you dumb down what marketing is at AWS, it’s inspiring people about what they can run in the cloud with AWS. What use cases they should consider us for, and then we spend a lot of energy giving them the technical education they need, so they can be successful using our products. At the end of the day, we make money when our customers are successful using our products.” Yep, marketing.

Amazon Twitch

News is becoming to find its way into open sources. The game video streaming service appears to be struggling with governance. Specifically, individuals are using the service to post content which is protected by copyright. Amazon’s smart software and its professionals are working overtime to get the real time streaming under control. For more information, you can contact us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com or read this Verge story.

Mai Oui, Amazon

According to Data Center Dynamics, Amazon is gearing up to put a data center in Brétigny-Sur-Orge, France. If you are not up to speed on French towns soon to be absorbed into Paris, the data center will be about 15 miles from the Louvre. For the rush hour commuter, this translates to about one hour by automobile. Yes, the traffic is bad.

Amazon: Real Time Communications

Ribbon is a company selling software which performs a number of functions once exclusively the domain of the “old” AT&T. The company announced that its Session Border Controller Software Edition (SWe) is available via the Amazon Marketplace. The AWS Quick Start for Ribbon SBC SWe has been built specifically for AWS. What does SBC do? The company said: “The Ribbon SBC SWe has been optimized for AWS to provide advanced security, while supporting high capacity requirements, for real-time, multimedia Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) traffic. Additionally, Ribbon’s SBC SWe delivers carrier-class redundancy to ensure service continuity; is deployable on multiple cloud environments; provides industry-leading media transcoding using GPUs to scale for high-density transcoding; and is certified for Microsoft Phone System Direct Routing, Skype for Business, Lync 2013 and Lync 2010.” To simplify, think telephone company services via Amazon. Source: PRNewswire

Amazon Financial

Few people think about Amazon in the context of banking. No problem, but DarkCyber believes that Amazon may have designs on some traditional financial services as it expands its crypto currency capabilities. Cryptonewsz reported that Amazon has extended its support for Amazon Aelf Enterprise, which is the alleged “first cross chain blockchain.” The idea is that blockchains are data silos. Aelf and Amazon are changing that. The service is likely to be of interest to companies like Netflix which seeks to ensure user privacy and limit piracy. The service may appeal to vendors of policeware who want a way to make sense of multiple blockchains used by a single bad actor. Are there implications for other Amazon financial services? Good question.

Amazon and Manufacturing

Amazon sells electronic books and it enables traditional manufacturing. The Bezos bulldozer can pull some different loads in its AWS tractor-trailer. Arcweb reports that Amazon has showcased more than two dozen manufacturing services available on AWS. “Amazon Web Services (AWS) Showcases 25 Products & Services for Manufacturing” states: “Is AWS in manufacturing? Yes, they are.” The write up lists the services, so you will have to consult the source for the other 20:

  • Amazon Kinesis lets you easily collect, process, and analyze video and data streams in real time
  • Amazon Timestream is a fast, scalable, fully managed time series database service for IoT and operational applications that makes it easy to store and analyze trillions of events per day at 1/10th the cost of relational databases.
  • Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed application streaming service. You centrally manage your desktop applications on AppStream 2.0 and securely deliver them to any computer.
  • Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. Athena is serverless, so there is no infrastructure to manage, and you pay only for the queries that you run.
  • Amazon QuickSight is a fast, cloud-powered business intelligence service that makes it easy to deliver insights to everyone in your organization.

There’s a useful diagram as well.

Partners and Resellers

DarkCyber wants to point out that Computer Reseller News, now CRN, published a slideshow with each slide providing a thumbnail about products and services from 20 Amazon AWS partners. No, we did not make it through the 20 slides, but we did deduce that there are AWS partners who want media coverage even if it is in the form of a clunky slideshow. See the show at this link.

Interesting tie ups appeared this week:

  • Clevertap is now an Amazon digital customer experience provider. Source: Business Insider
  • Dash Solutions has achieved AWS healthcare competency status. Source: Business Insider
  • Infocyte. This vendor of proactive threat detection and instant incident response announced the availability of Infocyte HUNT Cloud for Amazon Web Services . The company says that it agentless deployment through AWS APIs and artificial intelligence by leveraging AWS CloudTrail, Source: Dark Reading
Need Help Migrating an App to AWS?

Help is available. Navigate to “So You’re Thinking about Moving a Legacy Application to AWS.” The write up explains the process. You may need to do some additional research if the breezy list of things to think about does not help you.

Amazon Policeware Conference

A glimpse of some of Amazon’s policeware capabilities will make their appearance at the Re:Inforce conference. More details about this event are at this Amazon link. There will be partners doing demonstrations. Attendees can play capture the flag Amazon style. Hydration breaks will be available. Some Amazon warehouse workers may be pleased to note.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2019

Alexa: Big Brother and Big Sister

June 2, 2019

The younger generations live their lives online, so it is surprising when one shows concern about privacy. The Guardian’s Comedic journalist Tim Dowling wrote about his son’s total dislike for Amazon’s Alexa in, “Tim Dowling: Two Alexas Have Moved In, And They’re Terrifying.” Smart speakers are Big Brother’s newest tool, because it is always listening.

Dowling was sent two free Alexa’s to review for his column and coerced his son into setting them up in his home. What is even funnier is that they are used Alexas and one of them had googly eyes, so one is “always watching.” The son in question is nineteen years old, but is scared of Alexa. Dowling and his offspring do not like Alexa, because she is listening. At first, it is charming to have questions answered instantaneously, but it quickly turns when they nearly avoid buying an expensive laptop. They do ask Alexa, how many people are spying on them right then, but the speaker did not known the answer. Dowling’s eldest child, however, was quite keen on the speakers and had one tell him the latest football scores (that is soccer for the US).

It got worse for the youngest one when Dowling had to leave him alone in the house with the two Alexas:

“ ‘Walk the dog, feed the cat, don’t say ‘Alexa’, and you’ll be fine,’ I say.

‘Great,’ he says.

Some hours later, I receive an email informing me that I will not be required to write about Alexa after all. A few minutes after that, I receive an apology from the youngest one, telling me he had to unplug both Alexas: they had started talking to each other.”

What do Alexas discuss? They probably ceaselessly ask one another to keep repeating, because they could not quite get what the other is saying. Sure, smart speakers are fun. They are a voice activated Google and radio, but they are always listening. Listening to hear the next command or reporting it to the government.

Whitney Grace, June 2, 2019

AT&T: Amazon Telephone & Telegraph

May 31, 2019

The Bell heads are dazed with the ringing in their ears. The “real” news out Thomson Reuters published “Amazon Interested in Buying Boost from T-Mobile, Sprint.” Amazon’s chief bulldozer driver Jeff Bezos has a sixth sense for creating buzz, generating distraction, and whipping stakeholders into a frenzy of upside.

According to the real news story:

It was not immediately clear why the largest U.S. online retailer would want the wireless network and spectrum.

Yep, that’s the insight in the write up.

How about this factoid or opinionette:

The U.S. Justice Department would need to scrutinize the buyer of a divested asset to ensure it would stay viable and preserve competition.

DarkCyber may be able to do a bit more creating thinking.

The juiciest opportunity to obtain data is? Here are your choices for this one question test:

[a] Amazon wants to extend its data acquisition capabilities beyond the Alexa enabled devices

[b] Amazon believes that in the present regulatory environment, it can construct a 21st century version of the pre-Judge Green AT&T

[c] Amazon wants to kick start its data marketplace with information about “calls”, metadata about those calls, and enrich certain cross dataset analyses

[d] Amazon understands that the regulatory environment is struggling with the old school methods of Facebook and Google and has not a clue about the Amazon construct.

What’s the answer? You will have to sign up for my for fee Amazon lecture about policeware. Write us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com for details. (Tip: The webinar costs money.)

Stephen E Arnold, May 31, 2019

Amazon Twitch: Streaming Copyright Protected Content? You Betcha!

May 30, 2019

I found the “insight” in “Twitch Is Temporarily Suspending New Creators from Streaming after Troll Attack” amusing. The least popular game on Twitch, an Amazon property, has been outed as a streamer of copyright protected content. Yeah, that’s news.

I would point out at 0733 am US Eastern on May 30, 2019, that Ciklonica, one of Twitch’s more interesting chat performers, is eating and streaming the Big Bang television program dubbed in Russian.

Here’s a snap taken at 0730 am US Eastern on May 20, 2019:

ciklonica sanp

How is Amazon’s SageMaker artificial intelligence system doing when it comes to recognizing streaming content with titling? What about the human reviewers who are working valiantly to manage the game lovers?

Maybe Google’s decision to kill its game streaming service is the equivalent of a mixed martial art corner man throwing in the towel.

I describe some of the more interesting content in my Dark Web 2.0 lecture next week at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference. The scope of copyright protected content theft is remarkable. Amazon Twitch is just a chuckle because regular Amazon does what it can to prevent its customers from stealing the “regular” service’s content.

Maybe the Amazon smart software technology can’t police Twitch? Maybe Amazon is looking the other way so it can assert plausible deniability about SweetSaltyPeach chatting? Maybe Amazon simply lacks the management expertise to deal with Twitch’s “how to cheat your friends at cards” information.

Games. Let them begin at the “real” news outfits and in the Twitch-verse.

Stephen E Arnold, May 30, 2019

Amazon Twitch Shakes Its Digital Fist Which Hits the Bits

May 29, 2019

In my talk on June 4, 2019, I have a couple of comments to make about illegal streaming services. One of my examples of outright copyright violation is Twitch. The DarkCyber team has been tracking popular music streamed during “game related chats” like pole dancing and body stretching exercise sessions. Individuals who play US television shows dubbed in Russian are waving their Fortnite weapons at US television producers. We also have examples of a Russia Today affiliate streaming the more visual incidents associated with yellow jacket protects. There are other examples of how the game streaming system is being manipulated. No Dark Web needed.

Amazon Twitch tries to curtail these activities. Some of them are just futile. There is a streamer from Florida who happily drives and live streams. The “star” often moves the camera around. Distracted driving? No just another example of what gamers can access without doing much more than clicking a link and popping a word or phrase into the Twitch search system.

Now the “real” media has discovered what the young at heart have known for quite a while: Amazon Twitch, like Facebook and YouTube live video, is a bit of a challenge. “Twitch Is Temporarily Suspending New Creators from Streaming after Troll Attack” documents one facet of the “live streaming” problem. From banning BadBunny (a star whom one pays to insult her followers) to SweetSaltyPeach (a star known for wearing interesting clothing and assembling toys), Amazon Twitch needs a rethink. DarkCyber is not sure cursing, soft porn, and stolen content are what some individuals think the service should be delivering. But there’s always the chance that DarkCyber cannot divine the master plan of the Bezos bulldozer.

The write up points out:

Twitch’s statement acknowledged that they “became aware of a number of accounts targeting the Artifact game directory” over the weekend. Twitch’s team also recognized trolls were using the category “to share content that grossly violates our terms of service.” The majority of the accounts that “shared and viewed content were automated.”

Now about Amazon’s Sagemaker system. Is it able to deal with Amazon Twitch? Humans to the bulldozer controls. On the double.

Stephen E Arnold, May 29, 2019

Amazonia, May 27, 2019

May 27, 2019

DarkCyber’s review of the Amazon news in the last seven days reveals an uptick in the critical tone in some of the open source commentary about the company. In addition to watching what Amazon says, DarkCyber will note what those writing about the company highlight. Note that the Amazonia for Monday, June 3, 2019, will be an abbreviated run down. Most of teh DarkCyber team will be at the TechnoSecurity conference.

Senator Questions Amazon Privacy

CNet reported that Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and member of the judiciary committee, has asked Amazon for information about the privacy methods for Amazon’s Echo. As information about alleged data retention and use of recorded conversations swirls through open source channels, Amazon may find itself subject to “Facebook think.” Is Amazon a data analysis company in addition to an online bookstore? Amazon has been able to dodge some of the scrutiny directed at certain social media companies. The Bezos bulldozer could be mired in investigations and subject to fines in the US and elsewhere if these “questions” morph into hearings, investigations, and other legal mechanisms.

You may want to download US 20190156818, a patent which allows Alexa to record before a customer says the “Alexa” word. Privacy?

AWS Share Prices Dip, Prices for AWS Seem to Go Down Too

There is probably no correlation between a dip in Amazon’s share price and the price changes explained in “Announcing the New Pricing Plan for AWS Config Rules.” The blog post said:

Effective August 1st, 2019, AWS Config rules will switch to a new pay-per-use pricing model, lowering the bill for almost all existing AWS Config rules customers. AWS Config helps you assess and maintain compliance over your AWS resource configurations.

The pay per use approach appears to be a benefit in the form of a cost reduction. DarkCyber wants to point out that AWS pricing can be complicated. What appears to be a deal may turn out that for a certain class of customers, the new pricing may add to some costs.

Business2Community has published tips for reducing AWS costs.

Amazon Pushes Forward with Facial Recognition Technology

Criticism of facial recognition continues in the US. TechCrunch reported that Amazon shareholders have voted down two proposals to terminate its sale of Rekognition to government customers.

TechCrunch said:

The resolutions failed despite an effort by the ACLU to back the measures, which the civil liberties group accused the tech giant of being “non-responsive” to privacy concerns.

Unless management actions can curtail employee and shareholder grousing about the direction of Amazon’s policeware initiatives, Amazon could find itself at risk from push back from those upon whom the company depends.

Business Insider provides some information about the Amazon complaints related to the sales of services and products to what is called “big oil.”

Amazon’s management actions may curtail the growth of the company despite the lax regulatory environment in which the firm thrives.

The Kindle Support Chinese

Engadget reports that the Amazon book reading and “baby tablet” Kindle devices now su9pport “traditional Chinese books.” We learned:

Amazon has launched a portal in the Kindle store with 20,000 Traditional Chinese titles you can download, including translations of popular books like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. You can now also self-publish eBooks written in the characters through Kindle Direct Publishing.

The service is supported worldwide.

Amazon Satellites

If you need tips to use Amazon satellites, you may not be the informed customers the online bookstore seeks. Nevertheless, information appears in the 247 Wall Street write up “Why Amazon Is Now Giving AWS Users Access to Its Satellites.” DarkCyber thought the idea was revenue and getting customers to pay part of Amazon’s increasing infrastructure and technical debt costs. The write up states:

sing AWS Ground Station, customers can save up to 80% of their ground station costs by paying for antenna access time on demand, and they can rely on AWS Ground Station’s growing global footprint of ground stations to downlink data when and where they need it.

An Amazon official is quoted as saying:

The goal of AWS Ground Station is to make space communications ubiquitous and to make ground stations simple and easy to use, so that more organizations can derive insights from satellite data to help improve life on Earth and embark on deeper exploration and discovery in space.

At this time DarkCyber understands that two ground stations are now active. DarkCyber sticks with the cost and revenue interpretation of Amazon satellites.

Amazon AWS Is Ready for Bigger Data

Geekwire reports that an Amazon AWS executive revealed that the online bookstore is ready for bigger data. The write up quotes the Amazon professional as saying:

“The explosion of data is going to be beyond what we’ve ever seen before…cloud customers really need new and powerful tools to unlock the potential of that data.”

Not many details, but it is good to know that Amazon can handle the JEDI contract if the firms wins that deal.

Partners and Resellers

More remarkable vendor names as the roster of AWS specialists continues to swell.

  • Advertity says that it “has achieved Amazon Web Services competency for digital customer experience. Source: Yahoo
  • Agilisium says that it is now okayed to sell Amazon’s QuickSight Service. (QuickSight is Amazon speak for analytics.) Source: Yahoo
  • BAE Systems, operator of NetReveal (Detica) has been deemed “competent” for creating applications for US government clouds. This is important because BAE is one of the go-to providers of intelware in the UK, US, and elsewhere. Source: Marketwatch
  • CapGemini, a consulting firm, is actively selling engagements to move SAP installations to the AWS cloud. Source: Yahoo
  • Informatica wants to apply smart software to the task of moving large amounts of data to the AWS cloud. The line up of Information services is available at this AWS Marketplace  location. Informatica has a similar capability with the Google Cloud. Betting on more than one horse? Yes.
  • modelizeIT is now an Amazon Advanced Tier Technology Partner. Source: Marketsinsider
  • Northwest Vista College has become the first Amazon Web Services academy in South Central Texas. The idea is to train future Amazon savvy coders. Source: Yahoo

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2019

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