Amazonia for August 19, 2019

August 19, 2019

Editorial note: Amazonia will not appear in September and October 2019. Due to international travel and conference commitments, it will be able to post this summary each week. If significant Amazon news surfaces and we have access to our publishing system, we will put the item in the daily DarkCyber posts. (The posts between September 10 and September 21, 2019, will be published automatically. Internet access in some of the areas from which the team will be operating may not be available.)

News about Amazon continues to trend toward the happy face side of the spectrum. The flood of “new” and “improved” announcements from the Bezos bulldozer have slowed. With record heat indices, perhaps the giant orange behemoth has overheated and cooling off in a large Amazon warehouse filled with happy, happy Tweeters?

Management, Employees, Immigration, and Religion: A Volatile Mix

DarkCyber noted “Jews Protesting Amazon’s Business with ICE Arrested.” This passage captured the basics of the report:

40 Jews were arrested in New York Protesting Amazon. A protest of Amazon’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) saw forty Jews arrested in New York City. Close to 700 people were pulled out in the previous week in the agency’s largest-ever raid. The activists rallied together to bring attention to Amazon’s cloud contracts with Palantir Technologies and ICE. Palantir Technologies gives ICE data which they make use of in enforcement actions as well as immigration raids.

The write up included this allegedly accurate factoid:

The protesters weren’t alone. They were joined by 50 other demonstrations which happened across the United States to highlight Tisha b’Av. Tisha b’Av is a Jewish day of mourning and was observed by Jews in the United States to oppose the immigration policy of the United States. The protests took place in many cities such as Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles.

If true, Amazon faces another staff management challenge. The mixture of religion and law enforcement is complex. DarkCyber will monitor the push back Amazon may be experiencing.

Happy Tweeters

The source of this “real news” is Bellingcat, an online “real news” outfit. We noted this story: “Amazon’s Online Bezos Brigade Unleashed on Twitter.” The thrust of the story is interesting because it reminded DarkCyber of methods employed by those who seek to manipulate the “augmenting” functions of certain social media channels.

The write up asserted:

Last year, Amazon rolled out a program where employees at these fulfillment centers (warehouses) are able to also work as brand ambassadors to describe their experiences working at Amazon. A number of media outlets reported on this new program last year after the first wave of Ambassadors sent out bizarre tweets promoting Amazon’s workplace conditions.

The acronym FC refers to an Amazon fulfillment center or warehouses. There have been allegations about the work environment in these facilities.

DarkCyber finds the report intriguing. If Amazon is manipulating some content streams, would other tech giants use similar tactics? What if search results on Bing, Google, or Yandex were shaped? What if Facebook were tweaking what content appears, where it appears, and when it appears?

DarkCyber has no answer to these questions. But the Amazon operation runs on efficiency and disintermediation, not raw innovation and invention. Therefore, it is possible that the fat bull’s eye of social media content streams may have caught an Amazon whiz kid’s attention.

There’s another approach to the topic in “There’s Something Fishy about Amazon’s FC Ambassadors.”

Amazon Capital One: No Problems

Cyberscoop reported that Amazon found no significant issues at other companies allegedly breached by Paige Thompson. The write up reports that Amazon said:

“As Capital One outlined in their public announcement, the attack occurred due to a misconfiguration error at the application layer of a firewall installed by Capital One, exacerbated by permissions set by Capital One that were likely broader than intended,” Stephen Schmidt, the chief information security officer for AWS, said in an Aug. 13 response to Wyden.

Paige Thompson once worked at Amazon. Amazon will be more proactive going forward. Amazon will “do more to ensure its anomaly detection services “more broadly adopted and accessible in every geographic region.” Otherwise, no problems.

Amazon Uses Old School Leveraging Methods: Vendors’ Choice

Amazon’s alleged vendor management tactics were the subject of “Amazon Offered Vendors ‘Amazon’s Choice’ Labels in Return for Ad Spending and Lower Prices.” The main point of the write up seems to be:

Amazon’s Choice label, which is a mark that denotes that an item is recommended, gives certain products and items higher and more obvious placement in search results. While it’s unclear how exactly the mark is earned, it’s been accepted that it’s generally a mix of product listing and specifications, price and reviews, operated by Amazon’s algorithms. But sources say that Amazon actually offered sellers the chance to bid on the mark back in 2017.

DarkCyber interprets this statement as the long way around a very small barn. The idea may be to use leverage to herd some products shepherds to a Bezos controlled happy valley. There are other terms which might be used to describe this approach. We prefer “leverage” to “strong arm” or “coercion.” If you are curious, the novel “Sophie’s Choice” is available for the Kindle for about $9, or you could buy it in hardcover for a low as $1.50. Look for the small blue price. Your choice.

Amazon: Price Controls for Some Sellers?

Modern Retail published “A Slippery Slope: Amazon Wants to Control Third Party Sellers Product Pricing.” The idea is that sellers in its third party marketplace submits a product to Amazon. Amazon’s smart software prices the product. The article states:

According to Amazon, SBA doesn’t cost anything additional to FBA, which charges sellers a fee to store and ship items from Amazon’s warehouses with Prime Shipping. With SBA, Amazon also exerts control over the product’s sale price, by dynamically pricing products to make sure Amazon’s prices are lowest.

Modern Retail notes:

But sellers should be wary when forfeiting control over any aspect of their business — and particularly pricing — to Amazon.

Slippery slope for whom? Amazon or its partners in the third party special category? The article sidesteps many questions. Hopefully investigators will be more persistent if Amazon’s use of its market position in an improper way becomes a matter of interest.

Amazon and Modern Marketing: Cheap Gasoline

Cops Put a Stop to Amazon’s 30 Cent “Mrs. Maisel Gas Promo” reports that the lure of cheap fuel was indeed a marketing magnet. To promote an Amazon film, Amazon hit upon the idea of using an idea from the 1950s. DarkCyber learned:

Santa Monica police made Amazon suspend a one-day Marvelous Mrs. Maisel promotion that charged people 30 cents for gas at a station to reflect prices in 1959 (when the show is set) due to sheer demand. Apparently, the traffic snarls from lined up cars were so severe that law enforcement had no choice but to shut it down.

Any publicity is good publicity, particularly in the Los Angeles area.

The Lure of India

Amazon Nears Deal for Up to 10% of India’s Second-Largest Retailer” explains that India is important to the Bezos bulldozer. The write up asserts:

Amazon.com Inc. is in late-stage talks to acquire as much as 10% of India’s Future Retail Ltd., people familiar with the negotiations said, as the U.S. company moves to bolster its brick-and-mortar presence in one of the world’s fastest-growing retail markets.

This is not a surprise. Amazon will follow the data to nation states where its approach to efficiency is likely to be welcomed. That’s the assumption.

Amazon Does Do Emotion. Not Its. Yours.

Amazon’s policeware capabilities continue to mature. The facial recognition subsystem has added emotion recognition to its capabilities. “AWS Adds Fear to Facial Recognition Repertoire, Draws Immediate Fire.” DarkCyber does not want to speculate about the use case for fear recognition. The write up is fearless and reports:

The public cloud behemoth has also improved accuracy for emotion detection of the other seven emotions it recognizes. These are “happy”, “sad”, “angry”, “surprised”, “disgusted”, “calm”, and “confused. It has also improved age range estimation accuracy.

DarkCyber anticipates more public announcements about the features and functionality of the SageMaker linked facial recognition subsystem; for example, how could age recognition integrate with surveillance of bars and dance clubs?

Amazon Donates Returns

Amazon Will Now Donate Unsold Merchandize by Default Instead of Trashing It” explains that “will donate unwanted products from third-party Marketplace sellers instead of sending them to the garbage dump.” The new program is Fulfilled by Amazon Donations. The write up included this statement:

The goal is to reduce waste and to allow sellers a more environmental friendly and cheaper way to get rid of unsold inventory. Prior to the new program, Amazon charged 35 cents less, or just 15 cents per unit, to dispose of a product rather than donate it.

The article did not comment on the tax upside or downside of the donation program. DarkCyber thinks this may be of interest to some Amazon observers.

Amazon and Publishing: Is a Takeover Underway?

The Amazon Publishing Juggernaut” explains that Amazon may take over traditional publishing. The idea is not a new one. Here’s a summary of where Amazon is in the once chummy world of publishing:

As Amazon Studios does with movies, Amazon Publishing feeds the content pipelines created by the tech giant’s online storefront and Amazon Prime membership program. At its most extreme, Amazon Publishing is a triumph of vertical engineering: If a reader buys one of its titles on a Kindle, Amazon receives a cut both as publisher and as bookseller—not to mention whatever markup it made on the device in the first place, as well as the amortized value of having created more content to draw people into its various book-subscription offerings. (One literary agent summed it up succinctly to The Wall Street Journal in January: “They aren’t gaming the system. They own the system.”)

The idea that Amazon would take over “publishing” is interesting, but once the hot properties are skimmed, what’s left in what has been for many firms a low margin business reduced to begging for dollars, pay walls, and ads which obscure the “real news”?

Amazon Police Interaction: Ring, Ring

Ring Rewarded Users for Reporting Suspicious Activities” provides more allegedly accurate information about Amazon’s burgeoning policeware business. The article states that Amazon

encouraged users to form Watch teams and to post videos on social media to receive promo codes for future devices. It also promised free swag to anyone who recruits 10 new users and to those who blog about Ring “in a positive way,” as well as 50 percent discounts on Ring products to those who can solve a crime with the help of local cops.

More information may be available at this link. Note: Content may be removed and/or a paywall may be in place. DarkCyber does not update links to keep pace with the fluid, uncertain world of free content from “real news” source.

Amazon and Blockchain

DarkCyber noted FXStreet’s article “Amazon Web Services (AWS) CloudFormation Will Be Integrated with the Firm’s Managed Blockchain.” Amazon has indicated that some of its services can perform deanonymization. The article does not address that interesting facet of Amazon’s blockchain activities. Instead the write up focuses on the fact that:

AWS, the firm’s cloud computing division, is going to be supporting Amazon’s blockchain in the management and structuring of all its interconnected networks and member nodes.

Important? Yep.

AWS Fargate Close Analysis

Curious about AWS Fargate? If so, you will want to read “How Far Out Is Fargate?

The key phrase in the write up is “clusterless container orchestration,” which strikes DarkCyber as a useful way to think of this feature/service/function.

Amazon describes Fargate this way:

AWS Fargate is a compute engine for Amazon ECS that allows you to run containers without having to manage servers or clusters. With AWS Fargate, you no longer have to provision, configure, and scale clusters of virtual machines to run containers. This removes the need to choose server types, decide when to scale your clusters, or optimize cluster packing. AWS Fargate removes the need for you to interact with or think about servers or clusters. Fargate lets you focus on designing and building your applications instead of managing the infrastructure that runs them.

The article contains a brief comparison of Fargate and Kubernetes and Fargate and Lambda. Good write up.

A related story is “Basecamp’s Cofounder Explains Why It Ditched Google Cloud for Amazon this summer. Note: you will have to pay to read this rah rah article about Amazon. In a nutshell, risk. Amazon is not cheaper and it is not without its own risks. But Basecamp is willing to deal with more complexity. Logical? The argument did not stop one DarkCyber researcher from asking, “Did Amazon cut this outfit a sweetheart deal to get a PR type article published?” We don’t know, but it seems plausible.

Partners/Integrators/Consultants

Amazon’s third party business relationships continue to bloom despite the blistering heat in the Lower 48. Here’s a selection of outfits involved with Amazon. Many of these sport extremely creative names:

AutoGrid. The company offers flexibility management software for the energy industry. The company now collaborates with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring artificial intelligence-powered distributed energy management to its energy-industry customers. Source: Yahoo

Center for Internet Security. Amazon has a security partner. Apparently Amazon is eager to do more security in the wake of some interesting developments. This particular service is call ATO on AWS. Does anyone remember the Capital One breach? Well, there may be 29 others after the handiwork of a former AWS professional. Source: MarketWatch

CloudHesive. CloudHesive has achieved Premier Consulting Partner status in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN). Source: Yahoo

Elastic. Remember the idea that Amazon would bulldoze Elasticsearch. Now Elastic is offering Elasticsearch on AWS in London. Source: Yahoo

Globe and Mail. The publishing company has adopted Amazon’s SageMaker and related service to promote its content. Source: SiliconAngle

Kickdynamic. This company will use TigerGraph on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud to deliver hyper personalized marketing. Does this meaning user tracking? Maybe, and it means that TigerGraph is an Amazon customer. Source: MarketWatch

Rapid7. The company has increased its involvement with Amazon AWS. The company’s growth has come from products, many of which run on AWS. The firm’s consulting revenues declined. Source: Seeking Alpha

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2019

Amazonia for August 12, 2019

August 12, 2019

The crushed shrubs and small trees indicate that the Bezos bulldozer rolled through the digital landscape last week. Let’s look at some of the maneuvers the massive crawlers executed.

Amazon Facial Recognition Accuracy

One of the more important reports which appeared last week was “Which Company Does the Best Job at Image Recognition? Microsoft, Amazon, Google, or IBM?” The story, according to one DarkCyber researcher, seemed to be a public relations play. Keep that in mind because the data in the write up are provided without meeting DarkCyber’s factuality scratch test. A sample size of 500 images is unlikely to represent image type (full profile, side view, close up, distance, etc.), different nationalities, lighting conditions, image resolution, and other variables necessary to have confidence in a facial recognition analysis.

The analysis considered four recognition systems: Amazon Rekognition, Google Vision, IBM Watson, and Microsoft Azure (the current name but that can change at any time).

The loser was IBM Watson. DarkCyber found that amusing. Of the three in the race, the winner was — wait for it — Google Vision. Amazon came in second with 77.7 percent “accuracy.” The Orlando Police Department is unlikely to reverse their decision about the Rekognition system. The department appears to have waved goodbye to Rekognition. Microsoft came in “second.”

Here’s the scorecard for the super scientific analysis:

image

One minor point: The context of studies is important. Sample size and other aspects of “context” make a difference. But IBM Watson?

Reseller Agreement Scrutiny

The US government put its pedal to the metal regarding the dominant positions of some high flying US companies. One of these is Amazon./ According to the Verge (which presents the best podcast in the galaxy), Amazon’s reseller deal with Apple is in the spotlight. The Verge reported:

The deal was first announced last fall, ostensibly as a way for Apple to sell on Amazon in an official capacity and cut down on counterfeit or misleadingly marketed products. However, it had the effect of kicking off hundreds of legitimate sellers that were offering low-cost and refurbished Apple products that were no longer for sale by the company itself.

DarkCyber believes that Amazon and Apple may find themselves making more trips to Washington, DC, in the coming months. The investigation comes at a delicate time in the JEDI procurement process. Amazon might lose out to Microsoft, which has some experience in the antitrust arena.

Arrogance and thinking a company is bigger than a government might prove to be an issue. “Senator Wyden Wants Answers from Amazon on Capital One Hack” wants to understand Amazon AWS’s role (or lack of it) in the Capital One data breach. DarkCyber wonders how long Amazon can “just provide a utility service”, leaving the licensees to figure out how to configure, manage, and secure what is the very complex Amazon Web Services “platform.” A wrong answer might have an impact on the $10 billion JEDI contract award. Will Amazon’s “feet on the street” be called on to testify? DarkCyber hopes so.

Amazon and Blockchain

Coverage of Amazon’s digital currency initiatives has been sparse. In our lectures about Amazon’s policeware, the idea of deanonymizing transactions does not compute. Amazon sells eBooks and T shirts, right? DarkCyber noted this story: “Amazon Hints at Putting Advertising Data on a New Blockchain.” The write up states:

The online retailer is looking for a senior software engineer to work in its “Advertising FinTech team focused on a blockchain ledger,” the job listing reads.

DarkCyber finds this interesting. Is there a connection among Amazon’s Ethereum efforts, policeware, and a financial blockchain? Of course not. Amazon sells can openers and customer surveillance devices. No connections.

AWS As an Attack Platform

DarkCyber noted “Phishing Attacks Enlist Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure in Ploys.” The write up stated:

Recent phishing campaigns have been spotted boosting their anti-detection efforts by using Amazon Web Services to host their landing pages. It’s a sign of a nascent trend towards using public cloud storage, according to researchers.

The cyber security firm Proofpoint may have been the first company to go public with this information.

DarkCyber finds this interesting and “old news.” More information about bad actors’ possible leveraging of the sprawling AWS platform is presented in our for fee lecture “Amazon’s Policeware Platform.”

If this open source write up is accurate, there may be more information released in the near future by “real news” organizations.

AWS and Azure: Alleged Hosts for Ploys

A “ploy” is a nice way of saying malware, scams, and other interesting cyber applications. “Phishing Attacks Enlist Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure in Ploys” amplifies the Proofpoint message.

Does Amazon Think Some People Are Stupid?

I read “AWS VP: Old Fashioned Resellers Didn’t Truly Understand Cloud.” I am not sure if the person writing this headline paid attention to his or her fourth grade teacher. One of the DarkCyber research team knew a person whose report card conveyed this hand written message to the child’s parents:

Your child did not understand the concept of exploration and Columbus’ discovery of America.

The write up reports that either the AWS executive or the author of the article is a trifle undiplomatic or politically insensitive.

I noted this passage:

“A lot of the old-fashioned resellers didn’t truly understand cloud,” McCann [an Amazon executive] told CRN in a sit-down last week at the Amazon Spheres, on the technology giant’s headquarters campus in Seattle. “Right now…they’re all learning cloud at high speed.” McCann has been overseeing AWS Marketplace, AWS’ digital catalog of software offerings from some 1,400 independent software vendors (ISVs), since late 2014.

The resellers — at least some of the bright ones — are getting on the Bezos bulldozer.

image

“Stay abreast,” enjoins Dave McCann, VP of AWS Market Place. DarkCyber is not sure it can measure up to the lofty standards of a company engaged in such delightful and engaging suggestions.

Plus, the write up reports that the “channel” wants services on the AWS Marketplace. Plus people want to sell software on AWS. And Amazon’s consulting partner business is performing. Amazon is poised to roll out a consulting and services business too. Will Amazon go after the ethically challenged blue-chip and mid-tier consulting firms? Perhaps there is a GLG play in the wings too.

The write up ends with another, almost parental warning:

Channel partners trying to stay abreast of new cloud computing technologies should be boning up on machine learning, the internet of things, containers and serverless, according to McCann.

Well, get with the program and try harder. Ah, the promise of an Amazon echoing with the growl of the Bezos bulldozer drivers.

Is there a detention hall if someone does not “stay abreast”?

Amazon and Child Labor

There many ways to become rich. One of them is to seek out low cost labor. Has Amazon followed this path? DarkCyber does not know. IBI Times published “Amazon to Investigate Child Labour Claims Against China Supplier.” Yep, China. I thought there were some tensions between the US and China. It will be interesting to see how an investigation moves along within the interesting Chinese judicial system. The write up asserts:

Tech giant Amazon will investigate its Chinese supplier Foxconn after reports suggested that it resorted to child labor by hiring schoolchildren and forced them into night shifts and overtime work to meet production targets. The school children were inducted in production lines that were making Amazon Alexa devices including smart speakers. The teenagers worked at overtime and night shifts to attain production quotas for Amazon’s Echo, Echo Dot, and Kindle products.

If Foxconn hired kids to build Amazon gizmos, will Amazon be responsible? Probably not. Think in terms of security and AWS responsibility for a licensee’s technical ineptitude.

Moving production is an option, but won’t the same issue arise in other countries where “low cost” labor supports the US consumer thirst for disposable and frequently outmoded gadgets.

DarkCyber has a question, which is probably not important. It is: Will an Amazon investigation work in the manner of the Boeing safety review?

Worth monitoring.

Ah, the Baltics

Amazon may be heading to the Baltic states. “Report: Amazon Mulls Baltic State AWS Expansion” states:

Amazon has registered subsidiaries in Latvia and Estonia called Amazon Data Services Latvia and ADS Estonia, respectively, suggesting that it could be planning a dedicated cloud region for the Baltic states. While Amazon Web Services regions are spread across the world, the current closest facility to the Baltic states are AWS data centers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Latvia and Estonia are close to Russia. What if Russian companies operating via fronts sign up to do business with AWS? What if the interesting Estonian Russian community leverages the AWS infrastructure for selling gold and providing other services to a third party?

Like the US government, perhaps some of the government agencies in Russia would find ways to leverage Amazon AWS resources. An office in Tallinn’s old town might make it easier to interact with some of the more entrepreneurial Russians who live in the city.

TechRepublic provides some possibly accurate information in “Russian Phishing Campaign Using AWS to Host Landing Pages Designed to Avoid Detection.”

Amazon Earnings: Good or Bad?

DarkCyber does not provide financial or investment advice. We did note the Investor Place write up “This Earnings Disappointment Is Another Chance to Buy Amazon Stock.” The key word is “disappointment.” The write up states as “real news”:

Despite 20% growth in sales year-over-year, earnings failed to meet consensus. While operating income was within guidance, the company missed consensus earnings per share of $5.54 by $0.32. Despite this short-term stumble, Amazon.com Inc. continues to be a cash-generating machine.

Those money people can find a way to turn lemonade into lemons. But there was a ray of sunshine peaking through the dark, threatening clouds:

The company’s operating cash flow for the trailing twelve months is up 65% from the prior year. Long-term, Amazon has the dry powder to fund their continued domination of e-commerce (and beyond).

And how did the “disappointment” affect the bulldozer’s chief driver? Check out the “Cashing In” item below. That may provide some — as the Wall Street whiz kids say — color.

Cashing In

We noted a couple of news items about Jeff Bezos’ selling some stock. For pocket money or to pay PR firms to scatter sparklies around those yacht stories. According to My Broadband, published in South Africa, Mr. Bezos sold shares in Amazon worth $2 billion. Other reports peg the dollar return as higher, but $2 billion is a comfortable number. DarkCyber has that amount tucked in a small piggy bank in the Bank of Harrod’s Creek.

We Won’t Listen… We Promise

Information about how the Amazon appliances pay attention and perform some background operations is getting more coverage in the “real news” media. The unbiased MSPowerUser reported that Amazon allows a customer with an Amazon listening and watching and talking device to opt out of voice recordings and the ultra trustworthy human review process. The write up states:

Amazon has been the first to act definitely by allowing users to opt-out of the review process.

We like “the first.” Amazon is a leader.

Non Competes Make News

Amazon seems to have a keen desire to prevent people from getting a job once an individual goes to work for another company. DarkCyber read “Amazon Sues Former AWS Exec for Joining Rival Google Division As Cloud Wars Escalate.” The main idea is that if a person works for a rival, that individual will, knowingly or unknowingly, reveal secrets. Maybe for a Snowden type. Maybe not for a person with a functional ethical compass. Wait. What’s that word? Ethical. I know. A word destined for the lumber room.

DarkCyber noted this statement:

Seattle has become the battleground in the cloud wars as Amazon’s longtime home, with Microsoft just across Lake Washington in Redmond. Google Cloud is moving into a massive campus down the street from Amazon and the two rivals are not off to a very neighborly start. That’s because competition for cloud workers is fierce and the two companies are now wading in the same shallow talent pool.

DarkCyber thinks that this will be a messy legal battle. When elephants fight, the employees get trampled in our experience.

In an increasingly specialized and rarified discipline like cloud computing, will it be possible for a person never to work again.

Just like old school and probably some new school Hollywood producers allegedly scream at a wandering star: “You will never work in this town again!”

Okay, SNAP benefits and sleeping rough seem to be the goal.

Amazon and Data Lake Formation

Venture Beat published “Amazon Announces General Availability of AWS Lake Formation.” The write up reports:

Amazon … announced general availability of AWS Lake Formation, a fully managed service that facilitates the building, securing, and management of data lakes.

The idea is to perform a sequence of tasks (workflow) to federate content and metadata. Once federated, many functions become possible. The automation of content federation is important to many organizations; for example, the CIA, DHS, and GHCQ. What other companies offer similar automation and ancillary services? Maybe Oracle? Who provides database technology to DHS? DarkCyber does not really know. Maybe Oracle? Maybe Voyager Analytics? We will have to wait for a “real news” outfit to answer this question for us, won’t we?

The Elastic Fabric Adaptor

With a data lake and a fabric adaptor, the AWS offerings are starting to evoke the language of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Kubla Khan guy. I read “Scale HPC Workloads with Elastic Fabric Adapter and AWS Parallel Cluster.” This statement was reasonably understandable:

EFA is a network interface for Amazon EC2 instances that enables you to run HPC applications requiring high levels of inter-instance communications (such as computational fluid dynamics, weather modeling, and reservoir simulation) at scale on AWS. It uses an industry-standard operating system bypass technique, with a new custom Scalable Reliable Datagram (SRD) Protocol to enhance the performance of inter-instance communications, which is critical to scaling HPC applications. AWS ParallelCluster takes care of the undifferentiated heavy lifting involved in setting up an HPC cluster with EFA enabled.

The write up provides some step by step instructions for those who did not “bone up” on the wonders of the Byzantine AWS service array. There may be a test on the contents of ~/.parallelcluster/config file.

Amazon Channels IBM Watson Marketing

DarkCyber does not want to make too much of this “me too” approach to sales and marketing. But we noted “Amazon’s AWS Will Help Health Researchers Diagnose Patients and Monitor Disease.” The write up explains:

The company’s Amazon Web Services arm is lending its machine learning technology to the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance to assist in the development of new technologies around diagnosing patients and monitoring disease.

The write up does mention some of Amazon’s other health initiatives; for example:

Amazon has been increasingly pushing its way into public health, most notably with the formation of Haven, a consortium between itself, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway to experiment with healthcare systems. Last year, Amazon bought mail-order pharmacy PillPack for $753 million, and this year it made Alexa HIPAA compliant, giving it the ability to transmit patient healthcare data.

What’s not covered is the utility of these data to other Amazon business initiatives. On one hand, that’s typical of “real news.” On the other, the failure to connect the dots with regard to medical fraud is indicative of the lack of understanding some have about the Amazon trajectory.

Partners, Resellers, and Consultants

It may be summertime, but the living is not easy for hard working Amazon centric initiatives. Here’s a selection of announcements in the last week:

CloudHesive is now a premier consulting partner in the Amazon Services Partner Network. Source: Yahoo

GigaSpaces has moved its big data analytics processing platform to Amazon. DarkCyber likes the name: InsightEdge.  Source: Yahoo

Amazonia for August 5, 2019

August 5, 2019

The Bezos bulldozer has a bell. It goes “ring, ring, ring.” For information on what may be last week’s most important Amazon story, navigate to our DarkCyber story “Amazon and Law Enforcement: Irrelevant or Something Else?” Other items the DarkCyber research team noted in the past seven days:

JEDI Award on Hold: Amazon the Reason

The Inquirer clarified the JEDI contract decision. The UK online information service said:

The Pentagon is holding off on awarding its $10bn JEDI contract while the Defense Secretary reviews whether it was rigged in favor of Amazon. The contract, expected to be awarded to either Amazon or Microsoft later this month, has been criticized by bit-part actor Donald Trump, who argued that the process was biased towards Amazon.

The UK publication noted:

However, the contracting process for the project, which attracted bids from IBM, Oracle, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, has been marred by issues. Google announced its withdrawal from the bidding in October after employees called out the company out for violating its now deprecated “Don’t be evil” motto by supplying technology to the military. Microsoft employees also published an open letter urging the company not to bid on the project, arguing that doing so would “enhance lethality”.

Perhaps Amazon’s low profile, yet robust tactics, may roil the waters of the Potomac swamp. Amazon now has to slog through a different type of equatorial micro climate. There are dangerous creatures in the swamps on which the nation’s capital is constructed.

eBay Accuses Amazon Seller Poaching

The Wall Street Journal (August 2, 2019, Page B 4) published “eBay Says Amazon Staff Poached Sellers.” The online bookstore allegedly engages in tactics one of its competitors and soon to be victims acts in an un-eBay way. The newspaper reports:

Lawsuit accuses three from e-commerce rival of breaking racketeer laws with alleged lure.

The prey — sorry, DarkCyber meant to say “competitor” — filed a lawsuit on July 31, 2019, which asserts that the online bookstore broke Federal racketeering laws. The result was “harm.” According to Mr. Murdoch’s “real news” outlet:

The eBay lawsuit accuses the defendants of providing quotas for Amazon representatives to to recruit eBay sellers.

DarkCyber wonders if Amazon’s aggressive tactics are different from Amazon’s normal tactics; that is, baked into the culture of the online bookstore?

Amazon is attracting considerable scrutiny regarding its business practices, including the “not our fault” issue regarding Capital One data and the not so surprising delay thrust upon the Department of Defense by President Trump.

Has some of Mark Zuckerberg’s success in doing what he wishes influenced Amazon’s senior managers. When filtered down to the alleged interactions with eBay sellers, perhaps governance is being practiced, just in a way different from eBay’s expectations.

Amazon Sues Employee for Taking a Job at the Google

GeekWire published “Amazon Sues Former AWS Executive for Joining Rival Google Division As Cloud Wars Escalate.” Ironic? Nope, just a Bezos bulldozer tactic. The write up explains:

The executive in Amazon’s crosshairs is Philip Moyer, a Pennsylvania-based former AWS sales executive whose past experience includes several CEO roles and a long stint as a manager for Microsoft. Moyer was the chief executive for software-as-a-service companies Edgar Online and Cassiopae, according to his LinkedIn. In 2017, Amazon hired Moyer as a sales executive for AWS focusing on the financial services industry. By the time he resigned in 2019, he had 13 direct reports and managed 100 employees, according to the complaint. When Moyer accepted the job with Amazon, he signed a non-competition agreement, a contract in which an employee agrees not to work for a competitor for a period of time to avoid sharing confidential trade secrets.

Who will win? The lawyers for sure.

Amazon Security: Good, Bad, or Meh?

Amazon was at the center of the Capital One data breach. Amazon was quick to point out Amazon was not at fault. Capital One asserted that the security problem occurred in infrastructure. So was Amazon at fault? DarkCyber has lost track of the number of security breaches occurring because an AWS customer failed to implement appropriate security on the customers’ rented AWS service. The customer is responsible.

Apparently some elected officials want to know more. Business Insider (note that you may have to pony up some cash to read the article) published “Republican Lawmakers Want Answers from Jeff Bezos on Amazon Web Services Security Before the $10 Billion Defense Cloud Contract Is Awarded” suggests that Amazon is the winner of the competition.

The write up reports:

lawmakers say that they want to investigate because the government is on the brink of trusting AWS with some of the nation’s most sensitive data.

Another take on the security problem, which was allegedly not Amazon’s fault, appears in Computing. DarkCyber noted this statement:

Further reports suggested that companies named in the leaked Capital one files, including Ford and Italian bank Unaccredited, may also have been breached. However, Amazon said there is no evidence to support these claims.  Speaking to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for AWS explained that the company had “reached out to the customers mentioned in online forums by the perpetrator to help them assess their own logs for any evidence of an issue”.

DarkCyber opines that Amazon will repeat its mantra: “It’s the customer’s responsibility. We just provide the platform.”

Sound familiar? Does the mantra echo Facebook and Google explanations?

There is the issue of the cat loving, former Amazon AWS employee, the past history of AWS customer data breaches, and the $10 billion.

Amazon Acquires E8

Amazon acquired the Israeli storage company founded in 2014. The company builds gear relying on flash memory. The idea is to reduce latency. This company assembles hardware. According CNBC, E8 “boasts that the company’s hardware products “provide up to 10 times the performance of other all-flash-arrays, with consistently strong performance and low latency.” DarkCyber estimates that the price tag was in the $100 million range, but that’s unsubstantiated except by the burritos I fed my research team after the group produced this number. Will Amazon move more aggressively into hardware? Looks like it.

Amazon Oracle Feud: What’s Next?

I thought Oracle was out of the JEDI competition. Oracle apparently got the memo and elects to disagree. There’s an interesting run down of the latest action in this escalating battle. On one side is the Bezos bulldozer and on the other is the fading Russian fighter pilot, Larry Ellison. “Pentagon Rebukes Oracle As Debate over a Massive Federal Contract Turns Caustic” provides a helpful run down of the latest rebuke to the database company which calls Sea World Way home. Either Amazon or Microsoft will get a contract which could be worth $10 billion over five years. Oracle wants the deal, and unlike Microsoft and Amazon, Oracle could use the revenue.

The write up states:

Oracle alleged in a lawsuit that the Defense Department’s bidding process has been plagued with potential conflicts of interest and rigged in favor of Amazon’s cloud computing business. Oracle’s attempt to block the award was rejected earlier this month, with the judge in charge of the case explaining his reasoning in a lengthy document unsealed Friday. But in his decision, the judge posed new questions about the Pentagon’s legal argument for awarding one big contract. DoD spokeswoman Elissa Smith noted in a statement that the judge also affirmed that the Pentagon was “reasonably justified” to award a single contract. Despite the “tension” in the judge’s ruling, the department is planning to move ahead and award the contract in August, nearly a year and a half after it was announced.

Like Oracle’s fight with Google over Java, the old school database company won’t go quietly into that good night.

Just Walk Around Money

DarkCyber’s researchers walk around with a few dollars in pocket, backpack, or purse. Jeff Bezos requires more. “Jeff Bezos Sells $2 Billion in Stock after 4% Stake Transfer.” The money appears to be related to Mr. Bezos’ divorce settlement. MacKenzie Bezos is “official Amazon’s second largest individual shareholder,” according to Bloomberg. (You may have to pay to read the fluff around this factoid.)

Amazon Boxes and Boxes Earn Vendors Boxed Ears

We are fascinated with the matruska doll approach to packaging for some our Amazon orders. “Amazon Will Fine Sellers Who Ship Products in Oversized Packaging” explains that change is coming for offenders of Amazon’s “size” rule. (Will Amazon warehouses follow this rule? DarkCyber does not know. Humans under pressure to package do some interesting things we have heard.)

Amazon Smart Software

Amazon wants its software to be smarter or appear to be smarter. The company revealed a new method for making sense of certain humanoid related actions. The technique allegedly combines text-based search and a custom-built knowledge graph. You can get the Amazon explanation at this link.

Amazon Adds to Its Policeware Data Repository

Gizmodo alleges that “Cops Are Giving Amazon’s Ring Your Real Time 911 Caller Data.” DarkCyber finds this interesting. The online information service states:

The California-based company is seeking police departments’ permission to tap into the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) feeds used to automate and improve decisions made by emergency dispatch personnel and cut down on police response times. Ring has requested access to the data streams so it can curate “crime news” posts for its “neighborhood watch” app, Neighbors.

Good neighbors are important. Community building is a plus. Cross correlated with other data in Amazon’s policeware system could yield some interesting insights.

Amazon Market Position

DarkCyber noted this number: 50 percent and more. The number refers to the AWS share of the public cloud infrastructure market. The capitalist tool pegs the dollar value at over $32 billion so Amazon controls $16 billion or more. The write up says the data come from the Gartner Group. Believe the number or not.

Amazon and Big Cars

Getting Under the Hood of Amazon’s Auto Ambitions” is mostly Amazon cheerleading. The write up explains that Amazon is active in many facets of the automobile industry. The springboard is AWS, robots, policeware, and alliances. The stakes are high. Apple and Android are in autos, but no company has locked down the “Amazon approach” to market monopolization.

The write up states:

A Reuters analysis of more than 5,000 patents granted to Amazon from December 2016 through May 2019 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates at least 210 of those patents cover transportation-related topics from drones to automated ground vehicles. The auto-related patent push outpaced tech rivals Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, whose sister company Waymo is a self-driving pioneer.

But patents are not the principal thrust. The ace in the hole is Amazon’s designs on becoming the provider of an “industrial cloud.” Procurement, management, back office services, and more are part of the plan.

Amazon and Tiny Cars

TechCrunch, which appears to be covering more Amazon information,  published “Why AWS Is Building Tiny AI Race Cars to Teach Machine Learning.” According to the write up:

[The “tiny car” play] was really about how do we put machine learning in the hands of every developer and data scientist.

Before you open the door, be sure to check the price tag: $399.

Amazon Emulates Google

Google kills services. Amazon is following in the footsteps of the online advertising company. If you are a fan of the push to order Dash button, find a new shopping pleasure jolt. According to GeekWire,

Amazon will turn off capabilities for Dash buttons on Aug. 31.

The physical buttons are not as slick as talking to an Amazon home device. Geekwire says:

Amazon still operates the Dash Replenishment program for connected appliances that automatically reorder items when supplies are low. The company also created a virtual version of the Dash Button on its website. In addition, Amazon has built out voice shopping capabilities for Alexa, the digital brain that powers Echo devices.

Amazon Speech Engine Gets a New Speaker

AWS’ New Text to Speech Engine Sounds Like a Newscaster” explains that Amazon’s speech engine sounds like a — well, hmmmm — a newscaster. DarkCyber has heard some pretty interesting newscasters, but we assume that the newscasters are people like the talking heads on US cable television or the morning shows in the UK. Sorry, BBC, with your changes, we can’t understand some of the newscasters getting air time.

The write up reports:

The new newscaster style is now available in two U.S. voices (Joanna and Matthew) and Amazon is already working with USA Today and Canada’s The Globe and Mail, among a number of other companies, to help them voice their texts.

We are disappointed that the North Korean newscaster who recently retired has not been pressed into duty.

The article includes an audio of the Amazon Polly Newscaster. We love that Polly name. Very Victorian. Proper. No association with a parrot, of course.

Amazon and Images: Some Ethical Insight?

We noted “Man Interviewed at Amazon, Didn’t Get the Job, but They Used His Photo on Their Jobs Site,” not for the grammar errors, but for the interesting privileged approach of the world’s largest online bookstore.

The write up reported in good enough English:

…Jordan Guthmann, a VP at Edelman PR, interviewed for a job at Amazon. While he was on the company campus chatting with folks, someone asked to take his photo and he kindly obliged. Guthmann didn’t get the gig, but apparently he at least looked like the right person for the job: Until a few days ago his photo appeared on Amazon’s Talent Acquisition website.

The good news is that Amazon swapped out the photo. The bad news is that the Amazonian behavior reveals a tiny insight about the ethical compass at Amazon. There is no true north, just whatever direction is expedient maybe?

Going Green

Amazon reminds me of a jungle. Green, in this case, evokes renewable energy, not the life and death struggle in the Amazon landscape. USA Today reports that the world’s largest online bookstore is “launching renewable energy projects in Virginia and Ireland.” Perhaps the Bezos bulldozer is turning over a leaf?

Digital Currency

Amazon supports a number of digital currency inspired activities. One of the newer initiatives is putting $100,000 into a competition designed to “Change the Face of Blockchain.” Solve this problem and collect the money:

image

Yahoo includes this explanation from a content sparkplug:

“You are going to need people who are really good at hardware design, but also people with algorithmic skills,” he said. “My guess is the winning team will have a combination of that expertise.”

DarkCyber thinks that the point of the competition may be to identify potential hires for those supporting the event. Once again: DarkCyber speculation because the environmental impact of digital currency related activities may become grist for someone’s water mill.

Amazon High Performance Cluster You Have Always Wanted

A rah rah article which begins, “…Building an HPC system can be complex”, is a must read. HPCWire explains that “High performance computing customers love the breadth of services offered by AWS and the flexibility offered by the cloud to address their computational challenges. AWS provides you with the opportunity to innovate quickly and accelerate your workflow thanks to a virtually unlimited capacity.”

Although a trifle one sided, the article provides a teaser for the more complex explanation which is located on the Amazon AWS pages at this link. Easy? Absolutely. How does DarkCyber know? The word “simple is used to index the page.”

Dash Slows and Then Halts

Amazon has many ordering options. One can talk at Alexa. One can use the Amazon eCommerce Web site. But the Dash button is dashed. DarkCyber learned that Dash has crashed. “Amazon is terminating the Dash button on August 31” said:

The Dash button was created to allow consumers to instantly order a product with the push of a button. The ease of use made it perfect for consumables you often need restocked, such as laundry detergent or paper towels, but served little purpose outside of that.

Killing off dud products or products developers don’t want to work on is a Google tactic. Should Amazon be viewed through Google goggles?

Consultant, Partner, Reseller News

Cerner. The health information technology company has partnered with Amazon. According to MedCity News: “The collaboration will boost the business of both companies against the backdrop of tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft vying for healthcare market share in the industry’s shift to cloud-based infrastructure.” For additional color about Amazon healthcare, navigate to “Amazon Web Services Exec Partovi on Where the Biggest AI Opportunities Are in Healthcare.”

KCF Technologies. The tie up with Amazon AWS “a simple-to-use, fully automated, cloud-based backup and recovery solution for Cassandra databases on Amazon Web Services (AWS).” Source: Business Insider

MapleTech. This vendor of property and insurance services has migrated to Amazon AWS. Thus, its customers are now Amazonians. Source: Virtual Strategy

Motion Picture Academy Software Foundation. Amazon has joined. An official of the organization said: “Our membership has almost doubled since we launched the Academy Software Foundation a year ago, and we’re grateful that both studios and software vendors are seeing the value in having a neutral home for collaboration and shared development of open source software.” Source: The Hollywood Reporter

SoftServe. The company has announced an expanded relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) extending SoftServe’s offerings for media and entertainment enterprises. Source: Yahoo

VeChain rolls out is VeChain Thor Blockchain solutions. The venue was Amazon’s Beijing “global” summit. Why’s this important? Beijing. Blockchain. Global. Source: Yahoo

WiPro. This consulting company has teamed with Amazon to create a “co innovation center.” Where is the innovation center in case you want to mosey over and introduce yourself?

This state-of-the-art ‘innovation-in-action’ center, located in Wipro’s campus at Kodathi, Bengaluru…

And what’s cooking in the center:

The center will serve as a multi-disciplinary customer showcase hub for specialized teams to ideate, collaborate, develop and deliver futuristic solutions, leveraging AWS Cloud services in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, among others.

Source: CIOL

Amazon and Apple: Two Anti Trust Investigation Attractors

The Verge reported that “Amazon cut a deal with Apple to bring direct iPhone sales to its platform for the first time. Now, that deal is coming under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission.” The main idea is that the deal nuked the market for other Amazon sellers and helped Apple put a dent in folks who were repairing in an un Apple-like way Apple devices.

DarkCyber noted this chunk of the write up:

Still, experts say the Apple-Amazon deal could easily be grounds for an antitrust complaint. According to Sally Hubbard, an antitrust expert and the director of enforcement strategy at the OpenMarkets Institute, the practice of cutting a deal with a brand to shut out third-party sellers who may be peddling counterfeit products or simply just lower-cost versions is called “brand gating.” It’s rampant on Amazon, and it may be illegal, she argues. “You put a gate around the brand and say all the third-party sellers of whatever that brand is get a notice saying you can no longer sell this product on our platform unless you get authorization from the brand,” Hubbard tells The Verge. “But of course the brand is not going to let you sell if you’re under the [minimum advertised price]. Problem is that it’s illegal under antitrust law.”

Fair? You and the legal eagles decide.

Grab Your Popcorn: Re:Inforce 2019 Videos Online

You can get the information presented at one of Amazon’s upscale conferences on your computing device. Just bring popcorn and patience. There’s nothing like low contrast slides and jargon to tell a story. Here’s the link you need.

Amazon Is Number One in IaaS

IaaS means infrastructure as a service. As if Amazon’s revenues and tidal waves of AWS announcements were not enough, now IT Pro Portal makes it official: “Amazon Keeps Top Spot in IaaS Market.” True, the data come from a very objective source, the Gartner Group. Who’s number two? Microsoft. What happens if Microsoft wins JEDI as Amazon fires bullets into its feet? Gartner’s very objective analysts will reveal the truth in a world of fake news.

Amazon Twitch Watches a Star Leave the Ecosystem

I know you are heart broken that Ninja has jumped from Twitch to Mixer. DarkCyber thinks more of these future Clark Gabels will head for greener pastures. Twitch is cracking down and the changes are annoying the talent who make the service thrive. Source: The Verge

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2019

Amazonia for July 29, 2019

July 29, 2019

Summertime, the bulldozing is easy. Money is flowing, and regulators are hopping. There was some Amazon news despite the heat waves and the rumblings of impending monopoly investigations in the US and elsewhere.

JEDI Excitement

President Donald Trump, according to the semi paywalled, “insider” news service delivered a stunning rumor in “President Donald Trump Reportedly Wants to ‘Scuttle’ the $10 Billion Pentagon Cloud Contract That Amazon and Microsoft Are Fighting Over.” Let’s assume this report is spot on, accurate, and wrapped in factualities. Several questions pop up:

  • How happy will Oracle be with this decision?
  • How unhappy will Amazon be if it receives zero Department of Defense JEDI work?
  • How will Microsoft make Azure sort of work? (DarkCyber asks this question because some of Microsoft’s software has been — how shall I phrase it? — problematic?)

More than a week ago, Nextgov reported that “Trump ‘Looking Into’ Pentagon’s JEDI Contract.” There was swamp mist swirling around an assertion that some Republicans wanted the JEDI contract issued. Why? Love of Amazon? Love of Microsoft? Love of DoD procurement processes? Nope. “National security.”

Also, Amazon allegedly snapped up a modest 270,000 square feet of office space in lovely, 21st century Herndon, Virginia. There is no congestion near Sunrise Drive, some told DarkCyber. The company has a modest 400,000 square feet on the Dulles Access Road between Dulles Airport and the once sylvan Reston, Virginia. Source: Biznow

Fox News (an outstanding “real” news outfit published “Lawmakers Urge Trump to Delay $10B Defense Contract over Amazon Conflicts Probe.” The write up states:

The lawmakers who signed Tuesday’s letter are all Republicans and include Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio sent a similar letter to national security adviser John Bolton last Thursday, seeking a delay to the awarding of the JEDI contract due to a “lack of competition.”

The article did not include a quote from Amazon’s Washington, DC executive. Non government gray would have been enriched with local color.

Amazon Quarterly Report

Amazon’s quarterly revenue was $63 billion. The number of interest to DarkCyber is that AWS revenue was up 37 percent to $8.4 billion which works out to a $30 billion plus business for a 12 month period. MarketWatch has some additional details. Net net: Amazon will tighten the thumbscrews on merchant partners, vendors, and AWS customers. The Bezos bulldozer needs a new coat of paint, so price hikes will be needed.

DarkCyber wants to point out that the Gartner Group, an outstanding crystal ball outfit, predicts that Amazon can deliver a surprise for customers who don’t keep their eye on:

  • Amazon costs and prices
  • Amazon’s features
  • Amazon’s competitive behavior.

Does Gartner Group advise the Secretary of the Treasury?

Amazon Health Care

Curious as to Dr. Jeff Bezos’ medical acumen? There’s some information tucked into “Amazon Web Services Exec Partovi on Where the Biggest AI Opportunities Are in Healthcare.” In the interview / essay, we spotted this statement:

On the patient side, the value that cloud brings is that you can do predictive modeling. By applying machine learning and predictive modeling to data, it allows you to predict patient health events.

Perfect for health insurance and other services which could benefit from smart software and some cross correlation.

To put this interview in context, Amazon has rolled out a Web services center in Houston. Wasn’t that city interested in IBM Watson before those using the system realized it did not work the way doctors did? Source: Houston Chronicle

Retail on the US Government’s Mind

About that Department of Defense JEDI contract? What happens if the current Administration continues to find fault with Amazon? What about real estate values in Alexandria, Arlington, and other “close to the jungle” locations?

We noted “US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Says Amazon Has Destroyed Retail.” At the same time, US government professionals are gearing up for inquiries.

The write up stated:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he supports the Justice Department’s formal antitrust review of the country’s largest tech companies, particularly Amazon, which he said has ruined retail. In an interview Wednesday with CNBC, Mnuchin said the company has “destroyed the retail industry across the United States” and said there’s “no question they’ve limited competition.”

DarkCyber does not speculate about procurement, but could the JEDI deal go to Microsoft?

Big News: Amazon Offers Sellers a Deal

I worked in New York City sort of for several years. I was from a small town in Illinois, and I had to learn how to speak “New York.” One of the first phrases I learned was, “Such a deal.”

Amazon may be offering “a deal” to its sellers. The Wall Street Journal (paywall, gentle reader) appears to have blown the whistle on a new program for sellers and merchants who use the Amazon ecommerce site to move their products. The idea is simple:

  1. Independent merchants can get Amazon’s help with marketing
  2. Amazon can then purchase the merchant’s brand for $10,000
  3. The merchant gets to find another product to convert into a winner.
  4. Jump to Line 2

Such a deal.

Amazon’s Accelerator will accelerate all right. A faster path to monopolistic dominance of whatever product sells. I also learned another New York phrase, “Have I got a deal for you.” Sure you do.

A related item is that Amazon’s suspension policy contributes to “partner” stress. See this link.

Amazon Facial Recognition Leaves Disneyesque Orlando

Orlando Police Department has allegedly ended its Amazon Rekognition facial recognition test. The Orlando Weekly reported:

 

Orlando’s two-phase pilot with Amazon to try out real-time facial recognition software ended Thursday, capping 15 months of technical lags, bandwidth issues and uncertainty over whether the controversial face-scanning technology actually works.

The termination was allegedly due to resources. DarkCyber believes that this statement is accurate, but it may not include a spectrum of issues associated with facial recognition.

We noted the inclusion of this statement as well:

Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU, congratulated OPD for “finally figuring out what we long warned – Amazon’s surveillance technology doesn’t work and is a threat to our privacy and civil liberties.” “This failed pilot program demonstrates precisely why surveillance decisions should be made by the public through their elected leaders, and not by corporations secretly lobbying police officials to deploy dangerous systems against the public,” Cagle said.

The report noted:

Orlando is the only city in the country to openly test Amazon’s fledgling real-time facial recognition software. Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon is the only other known client using a variant of the software, where deputies can upload a photo of an unidentified suspect and run it through a database of images for a possible match long after an incident occurred.

Was Orlando a success or failure? It seems the thrill ride may have ended.

Amazon India: Bulking Up

AWS Can Be a Great Enabler for India to Jump a Tech Gen in AI and ML: Amazon Internet Services’ Rahul Sharma” is a rah rah article about Amazon’s growing interest in India. The write up reports:

AWS wants to lead India into becoming a cloud-first economy. From providing streams of open data and offering easy-to-use AI/ML services to skilling millions of youth, the company is out to service its biggest customer: the Indian citizen.

DarkCyber ignored the social good handwaving and focused on the meat of the push into India: Govtech.

Amazon and Israel

A new data center and a play for Israeli government contracts? Seems logical. Data Center Dynamics reports:

In September, Israel’s Finance Ministry and the Government Procurement Administration said that they planned to issue a tender in 2019-2020 for the supply of services based on a public cloud platform, servicing multiple government organizations

Amazon Chatbots: Still Chattering

ZDNet report that Amazon has rolled out a chatbot which issues system alerts to developers, through Slack and its own Chime app. The write up states:

Under the current AWS Chatbot Beta, notifications can be provided from Amazon Cloud Watch, AWS Health, AWS Budgets, AWS Security Hub, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS CloudFormation.

Yep, notifications.

AWS Lightsail How To

Want to build a virtual machine in AWS Lightsale. The “real news” outfit TechRepublic has published a how to in “How to Create a Virtual Machine Using Lightsail in AWS.” The write up is a very upbeat presentation of Amazon help page content. We liked this phrase too: “…Just a few mouse clicks.” There’s a free white paper available too. Just click this link. Plus, Lightsail is a deal, just $3.50 per month. DarkCyber believes that each customer’s costs will vary. TechRepublic is quite helpful to Amazon. DarkCyber wonders if there is any “consideration” or “inclusion” assessment associated with this story. Probably not. Just “real news”.

Reeling from Surprise AWS Costs?

Some help may be on the way. According to Silicon Angle, DarkCyber learned that EC2 Resource Optimization Recommendations helps users to optimize the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud resources they use. Allegedly the new service:

[will] find idle or underused instances so customers can adjust their usage patterns to save on costs. Should the tool find an idle instance, which Amazon defines as one that has less than 1% maximum central processing unit utilization, it will recommend that users simply shut it down. And when it finds an underused instance, it will recommend different-sized instances to which customers can switch to fit their usage pattern better and get more bang for their buck.

Yes, You Can Control a Car with Amazon

DarkCyber spotted this video: “Controlling a Car with Artificial Intelligence – AWS Deep Racer.” If you are a fan of serial content acquisition in non text form, here’s the url you need. For Amazon’s explanation of the use of its smart software, navigate to “Developers, Start Your Engines.” Vroom, vroom.

Amazon and Financial Information

We read “Amazon Echo Banking: Get Alexa to Check Your Balance, Make Payments and More.” DarkCyber liked the word “more.” How much more? One can imagine if the online bookstore has access to one’s bank accounts: Checking, savings, home loans, etc. Shove these data into any other personal information Amazon has. What pops out of the Alexa enabled microwave? How about a competitor to Oracle’s data service?

The write up ignores the big picture and states:

Linking your Echo to your account is quick and private. Don’t worry, you’re not sharing your personal banking info with Amazon when you connect it to the Alexa app. Just make sure you feel comfortable with the people who might be within earshot when Alexa responds.

There you go. Secret info from the outfit which records and retains data transmitted via Echo. How useful would such “unretained” data be to an investigator, an outfit doing a credit check, or to an insurance company? Probably above average.

Surfing on Weaveworks?

TechRepublic, an outfit which writes very positively about IBM, has turned its reportorial rapier on Amazon. “The Clearest Sign of AWS’ Open Source Success Wasn’t Built by Amazon” seems negative at first glance. But, no, TechRepublic seems to love Amazon as much as it does IBM. We noted this statement in the write up:

As AWS executive Matt Wilson put it, “As a very early adopter of Free and open source software (going back to migrating from Unix to Linux in 2002!), folks at Amazon have extensive understanding of Open Source, and also how developer communities of all types grow around technology.”  With Firecracker, this shows, because Weaveworks, not AWS, built Weave Ignite. That’s how good open source ecosystems grow.

A new jungle to bulldoze.

Pop That Trunk for Deliveries

DarkCyber wonders if law enforcement officers will find this Amazon delivery option helpful?

Amazon Will Now Deliver to the Trunk of Your Honda” states:

Amazon keeps on expanding its delivery options, perhaps to ensure that you won’t have an excuse not to buy that thing you’ve just carted. In 2018, it launched an in-car delivery service for GM and Volvo owners, which it also eventually offered to Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Now, the e-commerce giant is giving select Honda models access to Key by Amazon In-Car delivery, as well, so you can have your package dropped right inside your car wherever it is you’ve parked.

DarkCyber has heard that certain other models are supported in Europe.

There are some limitations, but the upside seems evident to Engadget’s expert:

While the HondaLink app itself is free, the Remote Services package will set you back $110 per year after a 3-month trial. Key by Amazon doesn’t cost anything on top of that, though, so it’s a nice perk if you’re already paying for the add-on.

Yes, a nice perk. Particularly if an authority watches the delivery person open a trunk long enough for the officer to peer inside.

Amazon Accused for Requiring Officers to “Shill” Rekognition

Vice seems unhappy with Amazon. The company provides a trial system so law enforcement can get some hands on (better yet, eyes on) time with the Rekognition imaging system. Vice points out: “Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement.”

The write up states:

The Lakeland, Florida police department is required to “encourage adoption” of Ring products as part of a secret agreement with the company.

We noted:

Amazon is convincing people to self-surveil through aggressive, fear-based marketing, aided by de facto police endorsements and free Ring camera giveaways. Consumers are opting into surveillance. And police are more than eager to capitalize on this wealth of surveillance data. The result of Ring-police partnerships is a self-perpetuating surveillance network: More people download Neighbors, more people get Ring, surveillance footage proliferates, and police can request whatever they want.

China’s government has implemented this type of approach. In the US, Amazon appears to be providing a similar service to the government. DarkCyber is interested in this approach to generating data for the Bezos bulldozer’s policeware platform.

Now the “secret”. A contract is a document which may have terms and conditions. If Vice obtained such a document; therefore, the document is not secret. Or is it?

Partners / Resellers
  • Brightloom uses AWS for its restaurant services business. Starbucks just signed up, not just for the service but for an ownership stake. Source: Forbes
  • Equinix has increased the bandwidth of its AWS direct connections. Source: SDxCentral
  • Sigma rolls out support for live debugging in its integrated development environment for AWS. Source: Yahoo
  • Stackery streamlines AWS server development on local machines. Source: GeekWire
  • Uptime has developed a single sign on service for AWS. Source: Yahoo
  • Zendesk makes ASW customer support services more actionable. Source: Yahoo

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2019

Amazonia, July 22, 2019

July 22, 2019

About that JEDI contract? The big news is that President Trump is going to check out the $10 billion deal for the Department of Defense’s cloud computing initiative. The driver of the Bezos bulldozer owns the Washington Post. Allegedly Mr. Trump refers to the prestigious “real news” outfit as “Amazon’s Washington Post.” A good sign? Who knows. Other Amazon items the DarkCyber team processed this week were less interesting. Here’s a few which seemed intriguing.

Amazon-SUE-ticals

Amazon wants patient data. (Note: With the patient data comes useful information about the prescription itself. Doctors in Florida, are you paying attention?) CNBC, which continues to surprise as a source of useful information, published “Amazon Threatens to Sue Major Pharmacy Player If It Prevents PillPack from Accessing Patient Drug Data.” We noted this statement in the write up:

PillPack was informed this week that it will soon be cut off from accessing that data via a third-party entity, ReMy Health — a move that could seriously complicate its business. Amazon is considering legal action against Surescripts to halt those efforts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. One person told CNBC that PillPack has already sent a cease-and-desist letter to Surescripts.

Several observations:

  • Executives are fearful of Amazon. For a reason, read “Amazon Brand Control” below
  • These data feed into other Amazon “areas of interest”. DarkCyber speculates that delivery information, compliance data, and policeware services may benefit
  • Amazon doesn’t have a direct deal with Surescripts.

DarkCyber believes that Amazon’s “customers” may provide a bit of shadow power to make “sure” the information is provided. And if Surescripts decides to sue Amazon in an expensive, lengthy court battle? A deal may result. Worth monitoring this pharma-SUE-tical matter? Yep.

The Pesky EU and Amazon

Antitrust: Commission Opens Investigation into Possible Anti-Competitive Conduct of Amazon” makes clear that the European Commission has a new project for some of its lawyers, INSEAD graduates, and accountants: Amazon. Here’s the problem:

Amazon has a dual role as a platform: (i) it sells products on its website as a retailer; and (ii) it provides a marketplace where independent sellers can sell products directly to consumers.

Is Amazon a monopoly? Judge for yourself by reading “Amazon Brand Control.”

Amazon Brand Control

The Rupert Murdoch “real news” outfit published “Amazon Seeks More Brand Control.” DarkCyber thought the story left an important point unstated; for example, monopolies exercise their power directly and by fiat. The “real news” outfit reported:

The program — which allows brand rights to be bought for a fixed price on 60 days’; notice—… is part of a push by Amazon to obtain a stable of exclusive brands for the platform.

What happens if a “brand” does not want to play ball? Well, there’s eBay, driving for Uber, or an Amazon warehouse job. You can read the write up for free if you can find the dead tree version of the Murdoch property for Friday, July 19, 2019, B-1. If not, you can click here but you may have to pay. “Cutting out the middleman” is a nice way of saying, “My way or the highway.” A rose by any other name is still a  — Prime day rose?

Bloomberg Identifies Amazon’s Most Serious Research Project

Bloomberg’s judgment can be measured against its reports of spy chips on motherboards. Now the company has turned its attention to Amazon’s research projects. Forget the policeware and intelware activities. The rubber hits the door mat with Amazon’s retail store experiments. You can get the Bloomberg analysis of Amazon’s “most ambitious research project” in this July 18, 2019, essay/analysis. Note that you may have to pay for this insight. The write up states:

Will all this work be worth it? Some Go stores seem almost deserted except for the lunchtime rush. Employees familiar with Amazon’s internal projections say the outlets in Chicago, in particular, are falling short of expectations, and the company has had to resort to raffles and giveaways of tote bags and other branded goodies. Yet, as the turbulent history of the project suggests, the Go store isn’t so much the culmination of the company’s efforts but something closer to an ongoing experiment.

Plus, there’s a picture:

image

DarkCyber heard that in one Go store, humans were added because theft was an issue.

Amazon Police Map

Here’s The Most Complete Map So Far Of Amazon’s Ring Camera Surveillance Partnerships With Local Police” looks like this:

image

Is Amazon in the policeware business? You judge for yourself by checking out this mostly ignored item. Also, how many of these “installations” are trials, freebies, and demonstrations? Some trial are ending; for example, Orlando’s.

 

For more on this topic, DarkCyber offers a for fee webinar on this topic. Write us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com.

Prime Day Data

DarkCyber has no way of knowing if the data in “Amazon Just Announced Prime Day Data, and the Staggering Numbers Beat Black Friday and Cyber Monday Combined” are accurate. But the numbers do seem to be beefier than those reported by Nordstrom and other outfits of that ilk.

So how big? Well…

  • 175 million items sold
  • 175 million Prime members
  • Each Prime member bought 1.75 items

Do these numbers look similar? Sophisticated analysis for sure.

First Transnational Bank of Amazon

The FTBA does not exist yet, but some think it may arrive. “Can Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon Transform Banking? Yes, and They’re Closer Than You Think” states:

Amazon’s competitive advantage is its ability to build cloud-banking much more securely than banks. It’s leading in the cloud, so this means your banking would no longer need to be local, it can be global. One account for all currencies.

The write up even suggests that one obtain a consultant’s research report to make the case for FTBA. Objective? Sure. DarkCyber believes everything its team reads on the Internet, including ITPortal’s analyses.

Amazon Fee Triggers

Amazon published in April 2019 a paper called “AWS Reliability Primer.” The idea is that one must consider how much of each of these “values” an AWS developer requires:

  • Operational excellence
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Performance efficiency
  • Cost optimization.

From a technical or architectural point of view, the write up provides useful information about the linkage between what Amazon can deliver and what one’s budget can tolerate.

DarkCyber thinks that this list of five factors explained in 62 pages of text highlights where costs can skyrocket if the AWS “customer” makes bad decisions.

Best practices or we warned you? You decide.

Amazon Stock Value

Seeking Alpha knows that fear, uncertainty, and doubt are good for some businesses. “Amazon’s Slowing Growth May Sink The Stock Following Results” opines:

AMZN is seeing a deceleration of growth in many of its business units. It could result in the stock pulling back following the results to around $1,800 based on an analysis of the chart.

Disaster looms, but one can tap Seeking Alpha for financial advice.

Amazon Satellites

Is this a $100 billion per year business? Motley Fool (“fool” in shorthand) states:

Amazon confirmed its plans, saying, “Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Satellites may be more reliable than floating Loon balloons.

Amazon Sales Reorg

Seeking Alpha published “AWS Reorganizes Sales Leader.” The site reported:

Web Services shuffled its sales team’s senior leadership earlier this year to clarify roles and eliminate confusion of multiple pitches to the same customer.

Criticism of AWS Firecracker?

Tech Republic’s “The Clearest Sign of AWS’ Open Source Success Wasn’t Built by Amazon” seems to be critical of the Bezos bulldozer. The write up states:

AWS Firecracker is great open source technology, but the best indication of its open source success is what Weaveworks built on top of it.

We think this means that Amazon provided a foundation, and another company used that foundation to create a successful solution.

The write up is a bit convoluted, and it preserves Tech Republic’s ability to keep the doors open to content sponsors.

Partners and Integrators

Datadog is now competent in AWS migration. Source: MarketWatch

Northern Virginia Community College will train US Marines to use AWS. Amazon seems to have some confidence in its winning the JEDI competition. Or, this could just be another “train people to use Amazon” play. Source: World Socialist Web Site (real news all the time we assume)

SnapLogic offers a quick start for those wanting to put a data lake on AWS. It appears that SnapLogic will work with Agilisium. Source: Help Net Security

ZenDesk moves to make customer data more actionable. We are not sure what “actionable” means, but with an expanded AWS service, DarkCyber has high hopes for understanding the concept. Source: Yahoo

Stephen E Arnold, July 22, 2019

Amazonia for July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

The Amazon displacement effect appears to be gaining momentum. Here’s a selection of Bezos bulldozer actions for the past week. DarkCyber has included a handful of items that took place outside this review window, but holidays can perturb in unexpected ways.

Amazon: Disinformation or Dissing the Competition?

A quite interesting article appeared in the Brisbane Times. The title caught my attention: “Former Amazon Scientist Pokes Holes in Data Collection at Brisbane Summit.” DarkCyber noted these quotes and statements in the write up:

  • …People in poorer economic areas may not drive, so might not see potholes as a problem, or they were less likely to be connected online, so were less likely to report them. DarkCyber note: This means that the data will mis-report potholes. In short, the data leads to uninformed decisions.
  • Organizations should be transparent about how they used private data, and that citizens should be able to see their own data within the organization…The “right to inspect the refinery”, he said, was another right – that any person must be able to see and observe how organizations were using their data.” DarkCyber note: Amazon seems to preserve and use Alexa data, but that information is not revealed to customers of the Alexa devices.

Note that the speaker is a “former” Amazon scientist.

Employment Developments: Efficiency and Beyond

A report which appeared on July 8, 2019, suggested that Amazon workers will strike on Prime Day. That is a Monday, the same day this Amazonia news run down appears. Alas, we can’t update before this goes live on Prime Day. The origin of this story appears to be Engadget which pegs the action in Minnesota. If false, Amazon has dodged a problem. If it is true, disgruntled Amazon low tier workers may become more bold. What happened in the Middle Ages when those lower down the Great Chain of Being were unhappy? I don’t remember. Perhaps Amazon will have a book about these historical antecedents.

Amazon Finds an Alternative Workforce Through Northwest Center, a Seattle Nonprofit Helping People with Disabilities” explains another Amazon management approach to staffing. The title explains the tactic.

Another tactic is the use of home workers for customer service roles. These employees receive some benefits. For details see “Amazon Is Hiring 3,000 Work-from-Home Employees with Full Benefits.”

Amazon will retrain its workers. Automation is coming and with it, many jobs will be crushed under the Bezos bulldozer. The New York Times explains the $700 million “retraining” effort but does not reference similar initiatives in Stalinist soviets.

ZDNet contributes the notion of a protest about upskilling. ZDNet reported:

Amazon’s announcement comes amid an Amazon Web Services conference in New York where CTO Werner Vogels was interrupted by protesters. Chants, which revolved around AWS providing technology to the US government, repeatedly picked up as Vogels talked early in his keynote. Vogels, flustered a smidge but rolling with it, said: “I’m more than willing to have a conversation, but maybe they should let me finish first.” AWS’ New York Summit had a similar issue last year, but the 2019 version was more persistent. On AWS’ live stream the protester audio was muted. “We’ll all get our voices heard,” said Vogels.

Does the Bezos bulldozer listen to humans directly or just through Alexa devices? DarkCyber does not know the answer.

Business Insider reveals that Amazon employees want the online bookstore to take a stand against the US government’s enforcement of immigration law. These individuals may not realize that Amazon facial recognition technology may be able to identify them.

Build a Serverless Architecture with AWS

A how to, diagrams, and step by step instructions. Navigate to Hypertrack and learn how “awesome” serverless is. The write up includes suggestions for specific AWS functions to include.

AWS Control Tower Available

I bet you didn’t know that Amazon AWS had a control tower. DarkCyber did not. Satellites, yes. Control towers? Sure, but these are a service automating “the process of setting up a new baseline multi account AWS environment.” InfoQ explains:

With Control Tower, a cloud administrator has a tool, which automates various tasks involving the initial setup of a new AWS environment such as identity and access management, centralized logging, and security audits across accounts. Furthermore, the service consists of several components, including:

  • A Landing Zone – the multi-account AWS environment the tool sets up
  • Blueprints – design patterns used to establish the Landing Zone
  • A set of default policy controls known as Guardrails
  • The Environment – an AWS account with all of the attendant resources set up to run an application.
Amazon QLDB

Jerry Hargrove published a useful diagram. Yes, we know it is small, but you can get a larger one and more from the link:

image

A link to the QLDB is included in the source.

Amazon Offers Centralized and Decentralized Blockchain Services

Most of the people with whom DarkCyber speaks are not aware of Amazon’s digital currency and blockchain services. We noted that Forbes, the capitalist tool, has noticed some blockchain capabilities available from Amazon. We noted:

AWS announced the preview for both of these models, centralized and decentralized, in late November of 2018, according to a press release. At the time of the July 3, 2019 interview with me, Pathak noted, “Quantum Ledger Database, QLDB, is still in preview,” while “Amazon Managed Blockchain went into General Availability at the end of April.” While in preview, customers can gain free access to these projects by filling out a form and signing up, an AWS representative clarified via email. When released for General Availability, anyone can use them.

Timely coverage.

Amazon Emotion Detection

Detecting a person’s emotions can be useful. Examples range from an insurance company’s identifying an insured driver evidencing signs of impending “rage” behavior to an Amazon DeepLens camera identifying an individual becoming increasingly problematic in a restaurant, night club, or sporting event. “Amazon May be Developing a Wearable That Detects Human Emotions” discusses this innovation. DarkCyber wonders if the technology has already been implemented in other Amazon devices; for example, the Alexa home gizmos. Could security and government authorities find this type of data-generating technology useful? DarkCyber thinks this is an interesting question.

DeepLens Now Available in Europe

DarkCyber covers the imaging devices in its Dark Web Version 2 lecture. We want to note The Register’s article “AWS’s Upgraded DeepLens AI Camera Zooms in on Europe” states:

The product is the result of work between AWS and Intel. DeepLens’s hardware consists of a mini PC running Ubuntu 16.4 LTS (Long Term Servicing) upon which is mounted an HD camera.

We noted:

The advantage of DeepLens is that it is ready to go, presuming you want to use AWS for your ML project. The pre-installed software includes AWS IoT Greengrass, which does local processing of IoT data such as the stream of images from your DeepLens camera.

This comment warranted a checkmark:

AWS has its own forthcoming Inferentia project, custom hardware for processing all the common ML frameworks, but currently it seems Google Cloud Platform has an advantage for TensorFlow.

Amazon Neighborhood Watch

A viewer of the DarkCyber Video news program questioned our assertion that Amazon was monitoring with humans, not just DeepLens and other zippy technology. Here’s a no cost source of information: “Amazon’s Neighborhood Watch App Raises Discrimination, Privacy Fears.” The problem is, of course, is that people cannot track Amazon’s activities nor do most professionals want to exert that effort. Hey, those meetings are important and there’s yoga and the off site. The write up points out:

Advocates and experts are worried that an Amazon-owned mobile app, used by owners of its Ring security cameras to upload videos for neighbors to see, could entrench racial discrimination and violate people’s privacy.

Why it matters: The app, called Neighbors, is striking deals to partner with police departments across the country.

Driving the news: Last week, journalists on Twitter noticed Ring was hiring an editor — prompting concerns that Amazon was stoking community fears to sell security systems. (Amazon bought the company last year.)

How it works: People with and without Ring cameras can download the Neighbors app. It features a feed where users can post videos and photos from their cameras, file reports of activity they think is suspicious and read crime reports from the app’s “News Team.”

Poke around online and other bits and pieces of information will surface. If you are lucky, you may get to meet Teresa Carlson, a former Microsoftie who is now Amazon’s VP of the Worldwide Public Sector. (This means government work.)

Amazon Brands

Trust Amazon?

Nope. “There’s No Reason to Trust Amazon’s Choice.” The idea is that Amazon recommends its own products. Do consumers know which products are really Amazon’s? No. The write up states:

Amazon’s typical statement on the matter is this: “Amazon’s Choice is just our recommendation, and customers can always ask for specific brands or products if they choose.” But Amazon’s recommendation doesn’t mean much if the recommendation engine is getting fooled.

Typical? Nope, standard operating procedure.

Furthermore, the article “These Are All the Businesses You Never Knew Were Owned by Amazon” was a heroic effort by a shopaholic. Among the gems in the list were these five brands with names DarkCyber found suggestive:

  • 206 Collective (Was a variant of this in use in Stalinist stores?)
  • Coastal Blue (Similar to the code name for the first stealth aircraft, “Have Blue”)
  • Core 10 (a phrase similar to those in use in the nuclear industry)
  • The Fix (slang for a rigged event or a drug injection)
  • Mint Lilac (a code name similar to those used by SAS operatives).
Amazon Acquisitions

Business Insider (which may or may not beg for your email or demand cash to view the article) compiled from open sources of information a list of Amazon acquisitions. These lists are usually incomplete because the researchers typically exclude partial investments, stakes held by individuals who employed by Amazon, and clever deals in which services are exchanged for stock. The real excitement is often in these secondary holdings. In the case of this article, the coverage of the list is superficial. Contact your local Wall Street purveyor of investor research for a more thorough run down.

Amazon’s Impact on Truck Drivers

Business Insider ran this story: “Truckers Say Amazon’s New Logistics Empire Is Being Underpinned by Low, Ridiculous Rates — and Some Are Refusing to Work with Them.” Amazon’s investments in self driving are not included in the lists of Amazon’s acquisitions. But Amazon is focused on efficiency. Robots are efficient. Humans require benefits, retirement plans, and other “soft” and “squishy” things which add escalating and variable costs. Nope, not in Amazon’s future.

How to Put Amazon in Your Business?

Answer: Just use Amazon. Plus, CTO Vision ran a “real” news story called “Amazon on How Businesses Can Implement AI.” The write up is a pointer to an Amazon movie “How AWS Is Changing Businesses Using Artificial Intelligence.” The video runs about four minutes, too short for popcorn, long enough to get the message across, “Embrace Amazon.” Admission is free even if one does not have a Prime membership. More Amazon PR is included in “At Re:MARS, Amazon Sells Itself As an AI Innovator.” Unlike Facebook and Google, Amazon is taking note of America Online’s disc campaign and refined it. Instead of CD ROMs, Amazon is using digital reminders, flashy technology, and glitzy conferences to make clear that it is the Bezos way or one will be sitting on the side of the Amazon toll way.

Amazon Revenue

According to GeekWire, Amazon’s sale of products make up less than half of Amazon’s revenue. Where’s the other revenue come from? Amazon Web Services, advertising, and “other” revenue streams. Is this important? Facebook, Google, and Microsoft may care. Regulators? Tough to say.

We noted a question posed by the Motley Fool, a rock solid financial advisory service: Is Amazon spending too much cash on Lord of the Rings? You can read the MBAistic discussion at this link. The answer is that the streaming world is a competitive place. Deep pockets are needed for this game. Even Google is working to fix up its YouTube service. If Amazon doesn’t get with the seeing stone, Apple, Disney, Netflix, or another outfit with cash will. Netflix has lost “Friends” and that’s the new world of streaming video. Losing friends.

Amazon: Asking Permission

Amazon Asks to Join Broadband Space Race with Elon Musk’s SpaceX” signals a new spirit at Amazon. The write up reports:

Amazon.com asked for U.S. permission to launch 3,236 communications satellites, joining a new space race to offer internet service from low orbits and challenge the fleet planned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Yes, asking permission.

Amazon’s satellite initiative is designed to help people get Internet access. Those without Internet access can use Amazon for shopping, videos, and computer services. But the permission angle is noteworthy.

Amazon Faces Challenges

There has been an uptick in “Amazon faces challenges” news. The Telegraph published “As Amazon Turns 25, What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing the World’s Most Powerful Company?” The Week, another UK publishing outfit, chimed in with “Amazon at 25: Where Next for the Online Giant?” These “analyses” recycle truisms. But after a decade of inattention, the rush to criticize is amusing.

More interesting were these items about Amazon’s new world:

Deliveroo Stalled

CNN reported:

UK regulators have ordered Amazon to pause its investment in UK food delivery startup Deliveroo while they consider whether the deal amounts to a takeover.

UK Investigates Amazon

The Associated Press, an outfit which frightens us, emitted a write up called “UK Investigation of Amazon Investment Shows Tougher Approach.” The AP story appeared in SFGate. We won’t quote from the story. What’s up is that government authorities are going to scrutinize Amazon. Amazon has been in business for more than 20 years. What’s the rush? Possible revenue from fines and taxes. These are potent forces in some nation states.

French Push Back
SFGate reported that Amazon faced some environmental pushback in Paris, France. We learned:

Protesters also disrupted Amazon sites in the southern city of Toulouse and northern city of Lille, hoping to inspire similar action in other countries.

C’est dommage.

Adding fuel to the environmental dumpster fire was a report that the online bookstore will not reveal how much carbon is pumped into the atmosphere by its Australian server operations. The Register said:

It’s one rule for Jeff Bezos’ online empire, and another for everyone else.

Security Issue

A new exploit has appeared. The code is Magecart and it attacks misconfigured AWS S3 instances. The method used is called “skimming.” The basic idea is to siphon off credit card data.

One unique feature of the S3 attacks is that the group is using a “spray and pray” technique as opposed to previous attacks that were highly targeted. In this case, the Magecart group is installing the skimmer code on any open S3 instances it can find in the hope that some of them may be linked to sites that have e-commerce functions.

Financial fraud is a new core competency of some bad actors and industrialized crime cartels. You can read more in Silicon Angle.

Selected Partner / Integrator News
  • The Chengdu Hi-tech Zone has teamed up with the Chinese non governmental organization to create a joint innovation zone. The idea is that Amazon and its partner will have an accelerator, incubator, international maker space and talent base. Source: Yahoo
  • Datadog has achieved AWS Microsoft workloads competency status. Source: Business Wire
  • Dobler Consulting has achieved Select Partner status as part of the Amazon Partner Network (APN). Source: Business Insider
  • Saviynt announced support for the newly launched Amazon EventBridge, from Amazon Web Services (AWS). (Amazon EventBridge is a serverless event bus service that connects applications using events.) Source: Digital Journal
  • Iron Mountain now supports AWS. The announcement included this remarkable phrase: ‘’Iron Mountain announced it has joined the AWS Partner Network (APN) as a Select Technology Partner, enabling customers to accelerate their digital transformation journey with AWS.” Source: Yahoo
  • The Spanish vendor Media Interactiva Media Interactiva offers system developers and engineers the chance to prepare for certification in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Source: Business Insider (may be paywall protected or free. It’s sort of hit and miss with this media and “real” news giant.)
  • SentryOne has also achieved Advanced Tier status in the Amazon Web Partner Services Network (APN) as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft Workloads Competency status. Source: Yahoo
  • SIOS Technology Corp. achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft Workloads Competency status within the AWS Partner Network (APN). Source: Yahoo
  • Trend Micro will deliver transparent, inline network security with Amazon Web Services Transit Gateway. Source: MarketWatch
  • Turbonomic has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft Workloads Competency status as an inaugural global launch AWS Partner Network (APN) Partner. Source: Yahoo
  • Unissant has joined the AWS consulting partner network. Source: Globe News Wire
  • Oooh rah. The US Marines and Amazon have teamed up for AWS training. Source: Education Drive

Stephen E Arnold, July 15, 2019

Amazonia for July 8, 2019

July 8, 2019

Even though many Amazonians celebrated the Fourth of July with their Amazon-ordered grills, spatulas, aprons, and Whole Foods’ goodies — the company’s Bezos bulldozer pulverized some small shrubs and a big tree or two. Here’s a selection of Amazon’s harvest from the previous week.

A Glimpse of the Future of Government IT Procurement

JEDI has not been awarded. Australia, however, has decided upon a country wide Amazon AWS deal. Australia will use the Amazon platform for its government IT. If the deal holds and the system works, traditional procurement approaches will be kicked to the side of the Information Highway. The idea is standardization, lower costs, and efficiency. The fact that these benefits may be difficult to quantify and deliver is beside the point. For details, navigate to “Australia-Wide AWS Deal Could Signal the End for Legacy IT Procurement.” DarkCyber wants to remind you, gentle reader, that the country is a member of the Five Eyes group. Most of the members behave in surprisingly similar ways. Amazon could land IT deals in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and the United States. JEDI is important to big outfits like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and the companies in these firms’ orbits.

Amazon’s Delete Does Not Delete

I know. Delete means gone, disappeared, vaporized into the ether. Well, not at Amazon. Amazon allegedly retains Alexa recordings even if an authorized user deletes them. There are many different reports about this Amazon approach to deletion. These come from IAfrican to Silicon Republic. Devices can listen. Amazon sells its own line of surveillance devices. Now these devices are migrating to other countries; for example, the UK. Will delete mean retain in other countries too?

What Happens When an Amazon Third Party Seller Fools You?

That’s a good question. I received a pair of hiking pants allegedly with a 36 inch waist. My leg would not fit through the pants leg. I sent the pants back and asked for a replacement pair. I got the replacement with a label stating 36 inch waist. Same problem, my leg would not fit. Never got to the waist. I gave up.

No more. I just gave up.

Amazon Can Be Held Liable for third Party Sales, Court Rules” suggests a different path. DarkCyber learned:

Wednesday’s ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia reversed a lower court decision, and has the potential to expose Amazon to numerous lawsuits related to defective or counterfeit products sold by third-party sellers on its site, Reuters reported. Up to now, such lawsuits have been batted away by Amazon, but this may no longer be the case going forward.

DarkCyber buys hiking pants at a local retail store. That outfit has a dressing room, not a court judgment, a procedure, and merchants who can be surprisingly clever humanoids.

Amazon’s Approach to Smarter Work

The Verge reported about Amazon’s semi-secret conference called re:MARS. At the conference Amazon revealed smart software and smarter robots. According to the write up:

re:MARS is the first public version of Amazon’s secretive MARS (machine learning, automation, robotics, and space) conference. MARS is usually a private event where a few hundred scientists, creatives, and business types are hosted by Jeff Bezos. They eat canapés, attend group meditations, and discuss technologies that will make or break the future. The chat is pretty much the same here in Vegas. But instead of 200 select attendees, there are 3,000 of us shuffling around in lanyards, backpacks, and comfy shoes. And instead of luxury workshops on blacksmithing and sausage making, there are seminars on how to build better robots, smarter AI, and maybe even colonize the Solar System.

Amazon seems to be more “public”. In addition to getting publicity, the Verge quotes one attendee as saying:

“It seems like they’re trying to get the smartest people in the same building and get them to talk to one another,” said Michael Bell, a PhD candidate and research fellow at Harvard’s School of Engineering who was demoing the university’s latest work with soft robotic grippers. “People have come by and asked me whether they can use these things to clean up the oceans. You don’t really get that at other conferences.”

Amazon, therefore, is innovating in conferences as well as drone surveillance within a geo-fenced area. (See the Tuesday, July 9, 2019, DarkCyber for more about this five year old Amazon innovation.)

The conference was interrupted by a pro-animal protester. The author of the write up suggested he felt like a package on a conveyor belt. Plus robots are in the Amazon future.

Chug, chug, chug goes the Bezos bulldozer.

Cat Flap with DeepLens

Digital Trends revealed that an Amazon employee connected the smart DeepLens video camera to an automatic pet door. The link up work. The feline can no longer bring dead animals into the Amazon worker’s home. The Rekognition image recognition system seems to work well for dead birds, deceased squirrels, and terminated rats. People? DarkCyber can only point to the next story in this week’s Amazonia.

Amazon Facial Analysis: Some Blind Spots?

An online information service called Jezebel published “Amazon’s Facial Analysis Program Is Building a Dystopic Future for Trans and Nonbinary People.” DarkCyber has a hunch that this means that Amazon’s facial recognition is [a] inaccurate and [b] biased. You will have to judge for yourself. DarkCyber noted this passage:

Rekognition, in particular, has some prodigious—and highly concerning—blind spots, especially around gender identity. A Jezebel investigation has found that Rekognition frequently misgenders trans, queer and nonbinary individuals. Furthermore, in a set of photos of explicitly nonbinary individuals Rekognition misgendered all of them—a mistake that’s baked into the program’s design, since it measures gender as a binary. In itself, that’s a problem: it erases the existence of an already marginalized group of people, and, in doing so, creates a system that mirrors the myriad ways that nonbinary people are left out of basic societal structures. What’s more, as Rekognition becomes more widely used, among government agencies, police departments, researchers and tech companies, that oversight has the potential to spread.

As Amazon becomes less secret and marginally more open, criticism of Amazon has increased. DarkCyber is not convinced that facial recognition systems vary much from developer to developer. Nevertheless, Amazon image technology is being sold and applied in interesting new ways.

Amazon and Automation: Job Losses? Yep.

Amazon’s Future Vision of AI, Warehouse Bots and Alexa” is an exclusive look at Amazon’s artificial intelligence and automation work and how it may impact jobs.” In a nutshell, humans will have a tough time getting hired after Amazon’s vision is implemented. The write up points out:

Amazon executives say they don’t see gloom and doom in AI and automation, noting that they continue to hire thousands more people to work alongside their warehouse bots and to create the latest machine-learning code.

By the way, code camps may not provide the ticket to future employment. One can give Amazon’s training programs a try. Universities are embracing the Amazon way. Student loans? Not an Amazon problem.

Amazon to Add Jobs in the UK

Forbes reports that Amazon will add 2,000 jobs in the Brexit-challenged country. If those hires take place, Amazon will employ 29,500 people across its more than 17 locations. Forbes suggests that these will be low wage jobs in the Amazon “fulfillment network.” That euphemism translates to warehouses for the DarkCyber team.

Amazon Prime Twitches

DarkCyber has noted that Twitch has out delivered on the Hong Kong riots as YouTube sat back and mostly ignored them. Many of the people with whom Amazon talks after our lectures about Dark Web Version 2 are not clued in about Twitch. Learning about Twitch might be a good idea. Who knows you, gentle reader, might become a streamer.

Amazon wants to be more Twitchy if the information in “Twitch Will Join Amazon Prime Day with Giveaways, Events and QVC Style Live Show” is accurate. QVC is a 24 hour a day live shopping cable TV show. Twitchers stream 24 hours a day, right? Probably a coincidence. DarkCyber highlighted this passage from the write up:

Given its push for more live video, it only makes sense that Twitch would get involved with Prime Day in this way, too. Beyond Twitch’s plans for live video, the streaming site is also offering a number of giveaways and hosting live events.

Perhaps this time Amazon live shopping will deliver the bucks that company needs to pay its taxes, innovate, and support charities. Perhaps?

AWS Security

Cloud computing offers benefits and drawbacks. On the drawback side of the teeter totter is security. “AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment” reports that:

To mitigate this risk [from insider threats], Schmidt launched an initiative within AWS to radically reduce employees’ access to data by 80%. This was a large number, he noted, and one he partly chose to raise eyebrows – and partly because of its effectiveness. Reducing data access by 10 or 20 percent wouldn’t have had the same effect; an 80% cut forced investment in security tools.

Amazon AWS itself figures in some security issues; for example, data left exposed on AWS systems can be discovered and compromised by bad actors. To cite one example: Navigate to this TechRadar report. Data from Fortune 100 companies were exposed online. The write up, however, does not address that real time, here and now risk. Insider threats are a problem, but are they more significant than the security methods in place for AWS customers? Taken together, is it possible that Amazon has more security issues than some perceive?

Amazon Goes North to Alaska

Amazon’s delivery service has expanded to Alaska. According to Business Insider (pay wall may apply):

Amazon Air is adding another gateway to its network of airports: Anchorage, Alaska. Amazon’s in-house air cargo fleet, which will total 70 planes by 2021, is key to the e-commerce behemoth’s plan to achieve one-day shipping for its Prime members this year.

Alaska is closer to some of Amazon’s providers. FedEx and UPS are likely to dismiss Amazon’s ambitions, but DarkCyber believes that Amazon can disrupt because it may have a slight advantage: Lower wages due to some of its policies.

Amazon: South to Buenos Aires

The New York Times (gentle reader, you may have to pay to access the source article,” reports that AWS will set up a data center in Argentina. This is the seventh data center Amazon has set up in an area which contains the actual organic, green Amazon.

Partner and Integrators

Last week was a quiet one for Amazon’s partner / reseller category.

eLogic Learning is now partners with AWS. Training courses will be parked in the Amazon cloud. Source: MarketWatch

Velocity Technology Solutions is now a strategic collaborator with Amazon. DarkCyber does not know what a strategic collaborator is, but it appears to have something to do with moving to the Amazon cloud. Source: MarketWatch

Amazon: A TV News Focal Point

Love Amazon? Want to know how it changed your life. ABC has the answer. View the video at this link.

Amazonia for July 1, 2019: The Firecracker Edition

July 1, 2019

Quite a flurry of partner, integrator, and consultant news in the last seven days. DarkCyber was unfamiliar with some of these outfits. If you take the known partner names, circle the wild and weird ones, one or two on your list will be generating significant sums as the Bezos bulldozer grinds forward. Not much speed, but the bulldozer has torque. Lots of torque.

Amazon Visual Search

Few people pay much attention to the number of people running queries on Google for products. In 2002, Google commanded about 90 percent of the search traffic as other Web search system collapsed. Numbers like the rock solid estimates in DarkCyber’s weekly Factualities write up are hard to obtain and validate. Chatter suggests that Amazon now dominates product search. That’s bad, bad news for the Google. The early “Froogle” fizzled. Amazon is now the search engine millions of people rely upon for basic product information. There are reviews, and many are bogus. But there are often numerous reviews and a careful reader can figure out what a product’s attributes are. Plus there are pictures. Yeah, about those pictures. Forbes, the capitalist tool and “real news” outfit published “Why Amazon’s Visual Search Could Eliminate Keywords For Online Retail.” The article suggests that the Google may be behind the curve in visual search. Perhaps the Google should buy Pinterest? DarkCyber learned:

Earlier this month, Amazon announced its sizable investment in visual search, which gives users the ability to search by picture. Through this new feature called “StyleSnap” on the Alexa app, users can replicate their favorite fashion simply by uploading a photo and letting artificial intelligence technology deliver the most relevant products to their search.

We noted this statement:

This news follows a trend that has been a long time in the making. And of course, Pinterest which rolled out its visual search feature back in 2015, has been capitalizing on this computer-vision technology for some time by attracting users and providing an excellent user experience.

The Google is tallying a number of high profile challenges. Forbes seems to have added visual search to the list. Google was the leader in search. Amazon may be poised to capture the traffic and the advertising dollars.

Amazon AW SAI

DarkCyber thinks this sequence of letters may be pronounced “aw, see.” The explanation of the enhanced smart software appears in “AWS Enhances Deep Learning AMI, AI Services SageMaker Ground Truth, and Rekognition.” These are important gears in the Amazon “policeware” machine. We noted this competitive statement in the write up:

The other major cloud players have services similar to Rekognition. Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision service offers a comparable set of features. Like Rekognition, it is not available in every region. Google’s Vision API is available globally, but only works images, not on full video.

But neither Google nor Microsoft can match the addition of dozens of cyber security services. Maybe the Department of Defense will notice the absence of these functions from the Microsoft Azure offering?

Therefore, “aw see” Amazon is differentiating itself from some of its competition. That may be ground truth which only some procurement officers “Rekognize.”

AWS Management Tools for Corporate Customers

One of the hassles of the Amazon AWS system is that it is lacking in the management tools behavioral deportment category on an enterprise system report card. Not exactly an F, but a D, maybe a C minus. There are signals that AWS is trying to grow up—at least a little bit.

Amazon Web Services Rolls Out Control Tower and Security Hub, Courting Big Business Customers” says:

Amazon Web Services on Monday night announced the general availability of AWS Control Tower and AWS Security Hub, aiming to make it easier for corporate customers to set up, secure and monitor cloud environments.

Instead of getting whacked with a telephone-style quota exceeded penalty, AWS will provide a tools so customers can plan. Maybe not long term, but at least avoid a threshold sticker shock. You can get additional details from the Amazon blog in a post written by a person with an absolutely marvelous name, Rodney Bozo.

AWS Security Services Push: Why?

If you want to know about Amazon’s security services, you can dive into “AWS Security Hub Aggregates Security Alerts and Conducts Continuous Compliance Checks.” A reasonable question is, “Why are numerous vendors using AWS to deliver difficult-to –differentiate cyber services?” It is not a US only push. We learned:

AWS Security Hub is available … in US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), US West (N. California), US West (Oregon), Canada (Central), Asia Pacific (Mumbai), Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Europe (Frankfurt), Europe (Ireland), Europe (London), Europe (Paris), and South America (Sao Paulo), with additional regions coming soon.

This week’s partner run down features a number of security related announcements. That’s interesting, but the announcements must be viewed in the context of this story: “AWS S3 Server Leaks Data from Fortune 100 Companies: Ford, Netflix, TD Bank.

What’s the story about Amazon AWS security? DarkCyber has a webinar which answers this question in part. For more information, write us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com.

AWS Internet of Things Services

CloudTweaks published a pro-AWS write up about the bulldozer’s AWS solutions. We learned:

The most secure and best way to ensure all data is processed and stored is to redirect all device topics data to an SNS which is designed to handle data flood processing, ensuring that incoming-data is reliably maintained, processed and delivered to the proper channel. To make it more scalable, multiple SNS topics, SQS queue, Lambda for a different/group of AWS device topics can be used. One should consider storing the data in safe-storage like a Queue, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, and Amazon Redshift before processing. This practice ensures no data loss due to message floods, un-wanted exception code or deployment issues.

Now you know why Amazon is working with educational institutions like George Mason University not too far from a three letter agency to teach the lingo of Amazon. Otherwise, much of the jargon is incomprehensible, which is great news for consultants, advisors, and mid tier consulting firms looking to make a buck.

Plus, there are some equally incomprehensible diagrams. Amazon has arrived in the big time it seems.

2019-06-27_174614

A Sampling of AWS Partner, Integrator, and Reseller Announcements

The DarkCyber team is unfamiliar with many of these firms. It seems obvious that the Amazon “bus” is picking up passengers as it follows behind the Bezos bulldozer. Quite a few of the ride alongs are wearing “cyber security” logos.

  • Blue Hexagon unveils native deep learning-powered threat protection platform For Amazon Web Services. Source: Digital Journal
  • Coupa Expands its service line up on Amazon. The idea appears to be designed to provide more control over the costs of Amazon services, a business which Amazon appears to find attractive. Source: Business Insider (sometimes free, sometimes paywalled. Go figure.)
  • Fortinet has readjusted so that its WAF-as-a-Service is available via Amazon Web Services. Source: Yahoo
  • Gigamon has announced the GigaVUE Cloud Suite with Amazon virtual private cloud traffic mirroring service. Source Finanzen
  • JASK delivers enhanced cloud workload traffic security visibility with Amazon Web Services or ECWTSV. Very catchy. Source: Digital Journal
    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/4356408#ixzz5s5wJw75q
  • McAfee (the security outfit, not the person avoiding certain government authorities) has announced a compliance service called MVision Cloud. This is available on AWS. Source: Register Herald
  • Nubeva Prisms TLS (SSL) decrypt solution supports Amazon virtual private cloud traffic mirroring. Enterprises using Amazon Web Services can now acquire keys and decrypt mirrored traffic. Source: Globe News Wire
  • NeuVector has announced a run-time container security service for AWS Cloud. The service integrates with apps on AWS EKS, AWS ECS and AWS App Mesh. Love those acronyms. So clear and easily differentiateable. Source: MarketWatch
  • Rapid 7 Insight now integrates with the AWS Security Hub. Source: MarketWatch
  • Rite Aid becomes a pick up partner. Order online. Go to a brick and mortar store to get the Amazon goodies. No drone needed. Source: GeekWire
  • Riverbed brings cloud and enterprise network traffic analysis to AWS. Source: Digital Journal
    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/4356419#ixzz5s5y1xpGD
  • Sumo Logic has launched a global threat benchmarking service for AWS. Source: Business Insider
  • Vectra has introduced the first network threat detection and response solution in Amazon Web Services. Source: Finanzen
  • VoiceFoundry – and I quote from the Business Insider “real news” story: “VoiceFoundry, an SDP-accredited Amazon Connect consulting partner and reseller and provider of enterprise cloud-based contact center solutions with a unique focus on customer engagement, today announced with Service Management Group (SMG), a global customer experience management firm, the release of VoiceFoundry Post-Call Survey powered by SMG AgentTrack for Amazon Connect.” The full write up can be found at this link.
  • Wallarm states that it has achieved advanced technology partner status in Amazon Web Services. If you are not familiar with this firm, the company Wallarm focuses on automated protection of Web sites, micro services, and APIs running on public and private clouds. Source: Virtual Strategy

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2019

Amazonia for June 24, 2019

June 24, 2019

The Amazon online bookstore continues to push outside the virtual mall. Some of the more interesting announcements about the landscape changing Bezos bulldozer include:

Bebo Bepops into Amazon Twitch: Name That Gamer Tune

DarkCyber believes that Amazon’s acquisition of Bebo, a moribund social network outfit, is a big deal. You can get the Silicon Valley take on this cheapo acquisition in “Amazon’s Twitch Acquired Social Networking Platform Bebo for Up to $25M to Bolster Its Esports Efforts.” DarkCyber thinks that there are other reasons for this deal. Socializing esports is a great red herring snagged by a public relations hook. There is more behind this deal, but the explanation will not be disclosed in this blog. Catch me after my Amazon lecture in late September 2019. I will be in San Antonio at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference holding forth for law enforcement, security, and intelligence professionals.

Some Amazon game programmers now have an opportunity to drive Amazon delivery vans or flip burgers. Green Man Gaming reports that Amazon Game Studios lays off dozens of staff. We think Google Stadia may be hiring.

Surveillance as a Service

Quite a few pundits and wizards noted that Amazon received a patent for flying a drone with a camera. Now that is one of those inventions which is not on a par with the spat over calculus. If you want to read the document, navigate to this link. Why’s this important? It’s not, but it snaps into the matrix I use for Amazon’s push into policeware. Lecture available for a fee. Just write darkcyber333 at yandex dot com. Although not directly about Amazon, this write up edges close to the revenue potential of the alleged Amazon service.

DHS Has Moved Biometrics to Amazon’s Cloud

Ouch. Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle just took one to the jaw. We noted this article in Geekwire: “DHS Moving Biometric Screening System to Amazon Web Services Amid Debate over Government Tech.” Here’s a statement we circled in bright blue marker:

The Department of Homeland Security is migrating the system it uses to search for people using biometric data to Amazon’s cloud….

The system is a catchall for fingerprints, iris scans, images of faces, and other information collected by the agency’s various departments, like TSA, FEMA, and ICE. It allows officials to scan a database and quickly identify undocumented immigrants, terrorist suspects, and other people of interest. The database is used by “DHS, other Federal agencies, State and local law enforcement, the intelligence community, and international partners to support counterterrorism, immigration and law enforcement, and credentialing efforts pertaining to identity services.”

You may be able to ferret out more clues in this RFI. Keep in mind that if the link goes dead, complain to USA.gov, DHS, or your favorite citizen services office, not DarkCyber.

Is this important? On a par with Bebo, the defunct social network company Amazon bought as most people read about Facebook’s sovereign currency play.

Ring May Amazonify Itself

Quartz reports that the Ring doorbell may undergo what MBAs call “ product extension.” What can Amazon do with Ring beyond connecting a Ring to Amazon’s connected lock service? There’s the sharing of video footage with neighbors and others, including “more than 50 police departments.” According to the “real” news outfit:

Amazon is apparently not stopping there with its one-stop viewing. The company recently received trademarks, uncovered by Quartz, for multiple products that bear the Ring name, including Ring Beams, Ring Halo, and Ring Net. All three trademarks are listed as covering a range of uses, many matching what Ring products currently offer, including internet-connected security cameras, alarm systems, lighting, and cloud video storage. They also mention new applications, such as cameras intended to be mounted on motor vehicles, electronic locks, indoor cameras like pet and baby monitors, and “home and business surveillance systems.” All three trademarks even suggest the marks should cover “navigation software for use with smart, autonomous vehicles and mobile machines for use in connection with internet of things (IoT) enabled devices.”

DarkCyber is disappointed that no “Ring a Dinga Ding Dong” was mentioned.

Amazon Twitch: Copyright Issues and Porn

Most of the people with whom I speak in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, think a twitch is what grandpa’s leg does when he wants to go to the tavern and grandma won’t let him. Twitch is Amazon’s “game” streaming service. The Verge reported “Twitch sues to unmask trolls that posted violent and pornographic streams.” DarkCyber noted this statement:

The videos were posted last month by an organized group of trolls in Twitch’s Artifact category, who are named in the lawsuit as John and Jane Does 1-100. Aside from the video filmed by the Christchurch shooter, trolls also streamed porn, copyrighted movies and television shows, and other illegal and harmful content.

Is the issue one that took place in the past, or is the problem of copyright violation and questionable content a “here and now” issue? I cover several facets of the Twitch service in terms of law enforcement and intelligence matters in my Dark Web 2 lectures. The reality of Twitch is not well understood.

Has someone like the Verge asked, “If it is your platform, how can you not know the identity of a user?” The answer is, “What?”

Amazon Is a Domain, Not a Jungle, a River, or a Region

We learned from the Conversation (a sort of one way thing) that Dot Amazon is a reality. How happy will be the countries bordering the region, the jungle, and the river? Probably happy enough to order products, buy ebooks, and learn about the AWS cloud. The article “Amazon Wins Amazon Domain Name, Aggravating South American Region and Undermining Digital Commons” reports:

Under international human rights law, the indigenous peoples in the region should have been consulted. Exclusive use of “.amazon” will deprive them of using it for economic opportunities in their historical lands, such as eco-tourism.

Amazon wants “amazon” to do many positive, US company things. The write up states:

The implications for the future of the internet are troubling.

DarkCyber is not sure the real Amazon cares or if the jungle, river, and governments bordering what is real estate care. Navigate to www.amazon.amazon, Amazonians around the world and in the area once uniquely named “Amazon.”

Amazon Bashing?

Fox News ran a story about the Amazon JEDI contract competition. “Amazon, Pentagon Accused of Swampy Dealings over $10B Contract” reported:

Amazon is poised to receive a lucrative government contract with the Pentagon, but a competitor is arguing it’s nothing more than a prime example of D.C. swamp politics.

That’s an interesting bit of prognostication. The Fox report then recounts the claims made by firms likely to be pushed to the gutter if Amazon wins the deal.

The write up points out:

The JEDI Contracting Officer said in a court document that a July 2018 review of potential conflicts of interest related to Ubhi and four other government employees with ties to AWS showed that they did not “negatively impact the integrity of the JEDI procurement.”

But predicting the outcome of a horse race with some of the jockeys wearing the logos of Amazon competitors? Interesting.

Amazon Poster Person

The Wall Street Journal on June 22 or 23, 2019 (love that precision in metatagging, don’t we?) published an encomium to Amazonian Nancy Nims. According to the glowing semi-interview, mostly rah rah rah:

…Nancy Nims pitches in on everything from blank screens to burst pipes.

You can find the story online at wsj.com (paywall) or snag a dead tree edition of the newspaper if you can find one on either June 22 or June 23, 2019.

Amazon Alexa and Yamaha TV Add Ons

Don’t have an Amazon device in your home? Just buy the Yamahas YAS-109 and the YAS-209 TV sound bars, and you have the problem solved. According to Slashgear:

Yamaha has introduced two new home sound bars, the YAS-109 and YAS-209. Both models feature native Alexa voice control, enabling users to directly access Amazon’s voice assistant and its various control functions. In addition, both new models pack wireless connectivity, support for various music streaming services, a discreet design, and more.

“Alexa, what’s the weather?”

Who Sponsored the AWS Public Sector Summit?

That’s a good question. Here’s the list. Where are the presentations? Well, that’s another good question to which DarkCyber does not have the answer. There are some PR type speeches available on YouTube plus the often opaque Amazon blog entries.

Look Out, NYT Best Sellers’ List

Amazon has announced the best books of 2019 “so far”. Yeah, it is June 2019, but this is a real time, year to date, Amazon analytics output. None of that checking with bookstores in places like Charlottesville, Virginia, and Boston, Massachusetts, where people still read old fashioned books. Digital Reader reports:

“We love selecting the Best Book of the Year So Far,” said Sarah Gelman, Editorial Director, Amazon Books. “We’ve read so many great books this year – a heart-wrenching memoir of loss, an intoxicating novel of a ’70s rock band, a psychological thriller worthy of Agatha Christie comparisons, and so much more. But one book stood out for us, Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. It has so many elements that make reading fun – the sparkle of youth, indiscretions, sassy characters, and freedom in a city that doesn’t sleep – perfect summer reading in our book.”

And the top book? City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books). And where can one acquire this big dog? Did you guess Amazon? If so, you may be Jeopardy material.

Amazon Reveals How to Implement AI

CTOVision explains the ins and outs in “Amazon on How Businesses Can Implement AI.” The method is revealed in an AWS video, a “succinct video” because, as you know, artificial intelligence is really easy using Amazon’s software and its platform. Here’s an example of an explanation in the video:

image

Yep, easy.

Amazon Is More Than a Bookstore

Amazon is on a PR blitz. The BBC snagged an interview with the former Cornell professor and now big tech person at Amazon. There were some gems in “Amazon’s Next Big Thing May Redefine Big.” The first “big” thing is that DarkCyber must learn a new definition of “big.” Okay, what else? These are items extracted from the Beeb’s somewhat uncritical article:

  1. Only “mortal humans” ever saw Amazon as merely a retailer.
  2. Its big data capabilities are now the tool of police forces, and maybe soon the military.
  3. New Amazon could make today’s Amazon look quaint in both scale and power.
  4. AWS accounts for most of Amazon’s profits.
  5. Amazon provides the infrastructure backbone for major firms such as AirBnB and Netflix, as well as more than one million other clients who collectively give Amazon “control” of large swathes of the web.
  6. Amazon Rekognition can scan video footage and, for example, pick up people’s faces that can then be checked against a client’s database.
  7. Amazon will need to answer continued questioning about how it handles user privacy, and whether it is being entirely up-front with users when it comes to how data is stored and analyzed.

Interesting stuff. But the police and military? DarkCyber theorizes that these entities will buy something other than boots and tactical vests.

Amazon’s Choice: An Evaluation

Leave it to the real news outfit Buzzfeed. Its story “Amazon’s Choice Does Not Necessarily Mean a Product Is Good.” Shocker. The write up reveals:

A review of dozens of Amazon’s Choice products by BuzzFeed News found listings with troubling product defects and warnings, as well as review manipulation.

DarkCyber’s hunch is that “quality” is defined in terms of revenue and margin. The notion about “troubling” is probably not high on the list of considerations. We noted this passage:

But “Amazon’s Choice” isn’t that at all, and here’s the disappointing news: It’s a label automatically awarded to listings by an algorithm based on customer reviews, price, and whether the product is in stock. And those choices Amazon’s software makes aren’t always reliable — in fact, sometimes they’re Amazon-recommended crap.

We highlighted this snippet as well:

But what consumers are finding is that while a product that performs well on key marketplace metrics might get an “Amazon’s Choice” label, it isn’t necessarily a good product. There are many examples. A forehead-and-ear thermometer with a 3.6-star average rating over 1,509 reviews is distinguished as Amazon’s Choice for an “infant thermometer.” Yet the product description from the manufacturer itself said, “Widely inaccurate and the results could be found from the comments by yourself.” (After BuzzFeed News reached out to the company for comment, that description was removed from the Amazon listing.)

Interesting, if true.

Amazon Fights Human Trafficking

Here’s another example of Amazon PR and a less than obvious reminder of the company’s push into policeware. Quartz’s story “Amazon’s AI Is Being Used to Rescue Children from Sex Trafficking.” We learned:

The nonprofit Thorn, founded by actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in 2009, wants to help to find these children and bring them to safety. To do so, it’s looking to AI… DetectText quickly extracts this information from the images, allowing Thorn to work backwards to find children from their last known number. IndexFaces, meanwhile, detects and matches faces to images of missing and exploited children from open web data sources, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s register of missing children.

Another message is, “Facial recognition is a pretty good thing.”

Now It Is Amazon Reinforcement Learning

Forbes is, it seems, an Amazon believer. “Amazon Dives Deep into Reinforcement Learning” explains:

The company [Amazon] applies RL in combination with other ML methods to optimize its warehouse and logistics operations, and assisting with automation in its various fulfillment facilities. The company has also applied RL to solving supply chain optimization problems and helping to discover optimal paths for delivery.

RL is an acronym for “reinforcement learning.” Useful when talking about ML and AI and APR (Amazon public relations).

The capitalist tool added:

the company has applied RL and other ML approaches to help create the latest iteration of its autonomous drone delivery device.

Okay, drones. What about those drones and RL?

Amazon used machine learning to iterate and simulate over 50,000 configurations of drone design before choosing the optimal approach.

Working at Amazon Twitch

SFGate, which is a bit rah rah for the Silicon Valley thing, published “Here’s What It’s Like to Work at Twitch, One of the Hottest Gaming Companies in the US.” Here’s a snapshot of the main point: Fun, food, autonomy, choice at an entertainment revolution.

Sounds like heaven or a bizarro world, almost the inverse of working at an Amazon warehouse.

Want to work in this paradise digital? I learned:

People who can show that they’re unabashedly passionate about something they do, whether it’s for fun or work, is a really nice cultural fit for us. We think that passion translates to your work, ultimately.—Alleged live streamed statement from a Twitch University Recruiter Gina Greenwalt.

Nothing about the streams which contain commercial TV shows (Russian streamers pump out US TV shows with dubbed Russian), movies (Pokémon is a fave), and the interesting pay-me-to have a private chat services. Odd that.

Next time around maybe SFGate will dig a bit deeper than free donuts. Plus a comparison with an Amazon warehouse job would be quite interesting. Perhaps free adult diapers instead of bagels?

Amazon: PR Diversity or Child Labor?

DarkCyber believes this is a PR play. Amazon is doing a lot of PR it seems. A 10 year old is now working alongside Amazonians who are young at heart if not in years. NBC Washington reports that Karthick Arun will enter the fifth grade. He will also work on robots because he is the youngest person to pass the Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner examination. Will he take the now retired Google Labs Aptitude Test or GLAT? I once sent a page to an investment banker who told me he was good at math. I never heard a peep from this fellow after the snail mail was delivered to him. Arun would probably ace that confection. Too bad Google dumped its robotics company. You remember the one with the terrifying reindeer wandering the company’s front lawn. Arun wants to build a robot dog. Sorry, Arun, already done.

Amazon: More Planes Because…

DarkCyber’s answer is, “FedEx and UPS are like old, rotting trees to the gleaming blade on the front of the Bezos bulldozer.”

Amazon Prime Air Gets More Planes to Boost One Day Shipping to You” offers a different explanation. To wit:

Amazon said it agreed to lease 15 more Boeing cargo planes from GE Capital Aviation Services, helping the e-commerce titan continue growing its air fleet so it can speed up Prime deliveries.

FedEx and UPS will take heart with this statement:

Pilots working for Prime Air have regularly complained about poor pay and lousy working conditions.

Hmmm. Different from Twitch working conditions perhaps?

DarkCyber understands the Prime delivery notion. Customers are number one. However, DarkCyber believes the motivation is to leverage Amazon’s infrastructure and robots, a white elephant airport, and the loose regulatory environment to become the same-day delivery giant, none of this overnight, three day, or seven day approach.

Amazon Connect Lex Speech Recognition

Here’s a link to a news story titled “Amazon Connect Lex Speech Recognition advanced Configuration.” The short write up is duplicated plus there’s a link to a video. Lex is Amazon’s speech recognition system. You will have to navigate to the link and figure out what DrVoIP on Collaboration is trying to communicate.

The real news is that Amazon Connect has launched AI powered speech analytics. The idea is to capture speech, convert to text, add metadata, and run numerical recipes across the content. Who is excited about this? Well, marketers, of course. We noted this statement in the write up:

The solution combines Amazon Transcribe to perform real-time speech recognition and create a high-quality text transcription of each call into text; Amazon Comprehend to analyze the interaction, detect the sentiment of the caller, and identify keywords and phrases in the conversation; and Amazon Translate to translate the conversation into an agent’s preferred language. To learn more about AI Powered Speech Analytics for Amazon Connect, see the solution webpage.

Want more? You can read marketing detail in Martech Advisor.

Amazon Partners, Resellers, Innovators

Summer is approaching in rubber boots and with a brolly here in Harrod’s Creek. There was some partner and reseller news. We’ve tossed in innovators because there are some interesting rumblings in the Amazonian digital jungle.

  • Datacal supports AWS databases. Source: SD Times
  • Digital Asset Partners puts smart contracts on AWS. Source: Coin Telegraph
  • Domo has launched Domo on AWS. “Domo for AWS is a new purpose-built package that gives AWS customers an easy way to make data from nearly two dozen AWS services securely accessible to virtually anyone across the company to drive new business value.” Here’s another baffler: “to drive new business value.” Source: MarketWatch
  • FINEOS is now competent in AWS financial services. Did you forget that Amazon is into finance but in a different way than privacy-centric Facebook? Source: Digital Journal
  • HaTech is named an AWS advanced partner. We’re not sure what it means, but you can read more in the Yahoo write up. Only 10 percent have reached this tier. We have to ask, “10 percent of how many?”
  • iBaset, a manufacturing services outfit, is using AWS for aerospace and defense applications. Source: Yahoo.
  • IEEE and Amazon are teaming up to encourage entrepreneurs in the IEEE community. Would Amazon invest in a promising start up? Would Amazon encourage a promising start up to use Azure, Google, or another cloud? Source: Business Insider (a source which really wants money)
  • SenecaGlobal is now an Amazon EC2 partner for Microsoft Windows Server. Strange bedfellows perhaps? Source: Host Review
  • Smartsheet is now AWS government competent. Smartsheet is in the “work execution business.” No, we don’t understand the phrase either. Workflow, project management, and the like we get. But not work execution. Source: Bakersfield Californian
  • Solodev is using Amazon AWS as a customer experience platform. We think this means customer service. Source: EContent What’s this have to do with electronic content? [a] Self help Web site, [b] search FAQs, [c] another publication jumping on the Amazon bandwagon for content, [d] who knows. Pick one, please.
  • Tripwire signs up for Amazon AWS. Tripwire provides security and compliance services. Source: Host Review
  • Legal and General will use AWS’s blockchain service. Source: Forbes
  • ZeroNorth is now an Amazon advanced technology partner. Source: Digital Journal

Stephen E Arnold, June 24, 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

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