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ACA Application Process Still Vulnerable to Fraudulent Documents

November 20, 2015

The post on Slashdot titled Affordable Care Act Exchanges Fail to Detect Counterfeit Documentation relates the ongoing issue of document verification within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) process. The Government Accountability Office) GAO submitted fake applications to test the controls at the state and federal level for application and enrollment in the ACA. The article states,

“Ten fictitious applicants were created to test whether verification steps including validating an applicant’s Social Security number, verifying citizenship, and verifying household income were completed properly. In order to test these controls, GAO’s test applications provided fraudulent documentation: “For each of the 10 undercover applications where we obtained qualified health-plan coverage, the respective marketplace directed that our applicants submit supplementary documentation we provided counterfeit follow-up documentation, such as fictitious Social Security cards with impossible Social Security numbers, for all 10…”

The GAO report itself mentions that eight of the ten fakes were failed at first, but later accepted. It shows that among the various ways that the fake applications were fraudulent included not only “impossible” Social Security Numbers, but also duplicate enrollments, and lack of employer-sponsored coverage. Ultimately, the report concludes that the ACA is still “vulnerable.” Granted, this is why the GOA conducted the audit of the system, to catch issues. The article provides no details on what new controls and fixes are being implemented.
Chelsea Kerwin, November 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

It Is Not a Bird in the Law Firm

November 3, 2015

In science-fiction, artificial intelligence is mostly toyed around with in robots and androids.  Machines that bear artificial intelligence either try to destroy humanity for their imperfection or coexist with humanity in a manner that results in comedic situations.  In reality, artificial intelligence exists in most everyday objects from a mobile phone to a children’s toy.  Artificial intelligence is a much more common occurrence than we give our scientists credit for and it has more practical applications than we could imagine.  According to PR Newswire one of the top artificial intelligence developers has made a new deal for their popular product, “RAVN Systems’ Artificial Intelligence Platform Is Deployed At Berwin Leighton Paisner.”

RAVN Systems is known for their top of line software in enterprise search, unstructured big data analytics, knowledge management, and, of course, artificial intelligence. The international law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner recently deployed RAVN Systems’s  RAVN Applied Cognitive Engine (RAVN ACE).  RAVN ACE will work in the law firm’s real estate practice, not as a realtor, but as the UK’s first contract robot.  It will use cutting-edge AI to read and interpret information from documents, converting unstructured data into structured output.  RAVN ACE will free up attorneys to complete more complex, less menial tasks.

“Matthew Whalley, Head of Legal Risk Consultancy at BLP commented, ‘The robot has fast become a key member of the team. It delivers perfect results every time we use it. Team morale and productivity has benefited hugely, and I expect us to create a cadre of contract robots throughout the firm. If the reaction to our first application is any indication, we will be leading the implementation of AI in the Law for some time to come.’ ”

RAVN ACE has more applications than writing real estate contracts.  It can be deployed for financial services, media, telecommunications, and more.  Taking over the menial tasks will save on time , allowing organizations to reinvest time into other projects.

Whitney Grace, November 3, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Declares It Has the Best Cloud Service…Again

October 15, 2015

Google is never afraid to brag about its services and how much better they are compared to their competitors.  Google brandishes its supposed superiority with cloud computing on its Google Cloud Platform Blog with the post, “Google Cloud Platform Delivers The Industry’s Best Technical And Differentiated Features.”  The first line in the post even comes out as a blanket statement for how Google feels about its cloud platform: “I’ll come right out and say it: Google Cloud Platform is a better cloud.”

One must always take assertations from a company’s Web site as part of its advertising campaign to peddle the service.  Google products and services, however, usually have quality written into their programming, but Google defends the above claim saying it has core advantages and technical differentiators in compute, storage, network, and distributed software tiers.  Google says this is for two reasons:

“1. Cloud Platform offers features that are very valuable for customers, and very difficult for competitors to emulate.

  1. The underlying technologies, created and honed by Google over the last 15 years, enable us to offer our services at a much lower price point.

Next the post explains the different features that make the cloud platform superior: live migration, scaling load balances, forty-five second boot times, three second archive restore, and 680,000 IOPS sustained Local SSD read rate.  Google can offer these features, because it claims to have the best technology and software engineers.  It does not stop there, because Google also offers its cloud platform at forty percent cheaper than other cloud platforms.  It delves into details about why it can offer a better and cheaper service.  While the argument is compelling, it is still Google cheerleading itself.

Google is one of the best technology companies, but it is better to test and review other cloud platforms rather than blinding following a blog post.

Whitney Grace, October 15, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Harsh Criticism of Yahoo

September 24, 2015

Kill dear old Yahoo? IBTimes reports on some harsh words from an ivory-tower type in, “NYU Professor: Yahoo Ought to Be ‘Euthanised’ and Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy Saved her Job.” It seems marketing professor Scott Galloway recently criticized the company, and its famous CEO, in a televised Bloomberg interview. In his opinion, any website with Yahoo’s traffic should be rolling in dough, and the company’s struggles are the result of mismanagement. As for his claim that the “most overpaid CEO in history” only retains her position due to her pregnancy? Reporter Mary-Ann Russon writes:

“Galloway says that Yahoo would not be willing to face the public backlash that would come from firing a woman in such a position of power who has just announced she is pregnant.

“This is not a stretch since there are still far fewer women in leadership positions than men – as of March 2015, only 24 of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women – and the issue with how companies perceive family planning remains a sore point for many career-minded women (Read: Gamechangers: Why multimillionaire ‘mom’ Marissa Mayer is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t).

“However, Galloway also pointed the finger of blame for Yahoo’s woes at its board, which he said has been a ‘lesson in poor corporate governance,’ since there have been five CEOs in the last seven years.”

Though Yahoo was a great success around the turn of the millennium, it has fallen behind as users migrate their internet usage to mobile devices (with that format’s smaller, cheaper ads). Though many still use its free apps, nowadays most of Yahoo’s revenue comes from its Alibaba investment.

So what does Galloway recommend? “It should be sold to Microsoft,” he declared. “We should put a bullet in this story called ‘Yahoo’.” Ouch. Can Yahoo reverse their fortunes, or is it too late for the veteran Internet company?

Cynthia Murrell, September 24, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Free InetSoft Data Tools for AWS Users

September 14, 2015

Users of AWS now have access to dashboard and analytics tools from data intelligence firm InetSoft, we learn from “InetSoft’s Style Scope Agile Edition Launched on Amazon Web Services for No Extra Cost Cloud-based Dashboards and Analytics” at PRWeb. The press release announces:

“Installable directly from the marketplace into an organization’s Amazon environment, the application can connect to Amazon RDS, Redshift, MySQL, and other data sources. Its primary limitation is a limit of two simultaneous users. In terms of functionality, the enterprise administration layer with granular security controls is omitted. The application gives fast access to powerful KPI reporting and multi-dimensional analysis, enabling the private sharing of dashboards and visualizations ideally suited for individual analysts, data scientists, and small teams in any departmental function. It also provides a self-service way of evaluating much of the same technology available in InetSoft’s commercial offerings, applications suitable for enterprise-wide deployment or embedding into other cloud-based solutions.”

So now AWS users can pick up free tools with this Style Scope Agile Edition, and InetSoft may pick up a customers for its commercial version of Style Scope. The company emphasizes that their product does not require users to re-architect data warehouses, and their data access layer, based on MapReduce principles, boosts performance. Founded in 1996, InetSoft is based in New Jersey.

Cynthia Murrell, September 14, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Computers Learn Discrimination from Their Programmers

September 14, 2015

One of the greatest lessons one take learn from the Broadway classic South Pacific is that children aren’t born racist, rather they learn about racism from their parents and other adults.  Computers are supposed to be infallible, objective machines, but according to Gizmodo’s article, “Computer Programs Can Be As Biased As Humans.”  In this case, computers are “children” and they observe discriminatory behavior from their programmers.

As an example, the article explains how companies use job application software to sift through prospective employees’ resumes.  Algorithms are used to search for keywords related to experience and skills with the goal of being unbiased related to sex and ethnicity.  The algorithms could also be used to sift out resumes that contain certain phrases and other information.

“Recently, there’s been discussion of whether these selection algorithms might be learning how to be biased. Many of the programs used to screen job applications are what computer scientists call machine-learning algorithms, which are good at detecting and learning patterns of behavior. Amazon uses machine-learning algorithms to learn your shopping habits and recommend products; Netflix uses them, too.”

The machine learning algorithms are mimicking the same discrimination habits of humans.  To catch these computer generated biases, other machine learning algorithms are being implemented to keep the other algorithms in check.  Another option to avoid the biases is to reload the data in a different manner so the algorithms do not fall into the old habits.  From a practical stand point it makes sense: if something does not work the first few times, change the way it is done.

Whitney Grace, September 14, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Snapshots for In-App Searches

September 9, 2015

Developers have a new tool for incorporating search data directly into apps, we learn in “Bing Snapshots First to Bring Advanced In-App Search to Users” at Search Engine Watch. Apparently Google announced a similar feature, Google Now on Tap, earlier this year, but Microsoft’s Bing has beaten them to the consumer market. Of course, part of Snapshot’s goal is to keep users from wandering out of “Microsoft territory,” but many users are sure to appreciate the convenience nevertheless. Reporter Mike O’Brien writes:

“With Bing Snapshots, developers will be able to incorporate all of the search engine’s information into their apps, allowing users to perform searches in context without navigating outside. For example, a friend could mention a restaurant on Facebook Messenger. When you long-press the Home button, Bing will analyze the contents of the screen and bring up a snapshot of a restaurant, with actionable information, such as the restaurant’s official website and Yelp reviews, as well Uber.”

Bing officials are excited about the development (and, perhaps, scoring a perceived win over Google), declaring this the start of a promising relationship with developers. The article continues:

“Beyond making sure Snapshots got a headstart over Google Now on Tap, Bing is also able to stand out by becoming the first search engine to make its knowledge graph available to developers. That will happen this fall, though some APIs are already available on the company’s online developer center. Bing is currently giving potential users sneak peeks on its Android app.”

Hmm, that’s a tad ironic. I look forward to seeing how Google positions the launch of Google Now on Tap when the time comes.

Cynthia Murrell, September 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Elasticsearch is the Jack of All Trades at Goldman Sachs

August 25, 2015

The article titled Goldman Sachs Puts Elasticsearch to Work on Information Week discusses how programmers at Goldman Sachs are using Elasticsearch. Programmers there are working on applications to exploit both the data retrieval capabilities as well as the faculty it has for unstructured data. The article explains,

“Elasticsearch and its co-products — Logstash, Elastic’s server log data retrieval system, and Kibana, a dashboard reporting system — are written in Java and behave as core Java systems. This gives them an edge with enterprise developers who quickly recognize how to integrate them into applications. Logstash has plug-ins that draw data from the log files of 165 different information systems. It works natively with Elasticsearch and Kibana to feed them data for downstream analytics, said Elastic’s Jeff Yoshimura, global marketing leader.”

The article provides detailed examples of how Elastic is being used in legal, finance, and engineering departments within Goldman Sachs. For example, rather than hiring a “platoon of lawyers” to comb through Goldman’s legal contracts, a single software engineer was able to build a system that digitized everything and flagged contract documents that needed revision. With over 9,000 employees, Goldman currently has several thousand using Elasticsearch. The role of search has expanded, and it is important that companies recognize the many functions it can provide.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 25, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Facebook Opens Messenger to Non-Members

July 20, 2015

Facebook is making its Messenger app free, even to those who don’t have a Facebook account, we learn in “Does this Spell the End for WhatsApp?” at the U.K.’s Daily Star. What does that have to do with mobile messaging tool WhatsApp? Reporter Dave Snelling writes:

“This means even people without a Facebook account will be able to start using the service and that could put it in direct competition with WhatsApp. And guess who owns WhatApp…yes Facebook! The social network paid an insane $19 billion for WhatsApp late last year and it’s gone on to see a huge rise in success. WhatsApp now has over 800 million users and the figure is growing daily. Facebook Messenger brings users the same features as WhatsApp including sending photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling and stickers.”

We notice that “search ability” is not among the features. Pity that; users must continue to employ an outside method to find a certain drop of info in their sea of messages. We’d value a search box over “stickers” any day, but perhaps that’s just us.

So far, the non-Facebook-member Messenger is only available in Canada and the U.S., but is expected to cross the Atlantic soon. Snelling wonders whether users will switch from WhatsApp to Messenger. I wonder whether Facebook plans to merge the apps, and their users; why would they hang on to both? As the article concludes, we’ll have to wait and see.

Cynthia Murrell, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Is SharePoint A Knowledge Management Tool

July 9, 2015

One of the biggest questions information experts are asked a lot is, “is SharePoint a knowledge management tool?”  The answer, according to Lucidea, is: it depends.  The answer is vague, but a blog post on Lucidea’s Web site explains why: “But Isn’t SharePoint A KM Application?”

SharePoint’s usefulness is explained in this one quote:

“SharePoint is a very powerful and flexible platform for building all sorts of applications. Many organizations have adopted SharePoint because of its promise to displace all sorts of big and little applications. With SharePoint, IT can learn one framework and build out applications on an as-needed basis, rather than buying and then maintaining 1001 different applications, all with various system requirements, etc. But the key thing is that you need someone to build out the SharePoint platform and actually turn it into a useful application.”

The post cannot stress enough the importance of customizing SharePoint to make it function as a knowledge management tool.  If that was not enough, in order to keep SharePoint working well it needs to continuously be developed.

Lucidea does explain that SharePoint is not a good knowledge management application if you expect it to be implemented in a short time frame, focuses on a single problem, the users improve the system, and can meet immediate knowledge management needs.

The biggest thing to understand is that knowledge management is a process.  There are applications that can take control of immediate knowledge management needs, but for long term the actual terms “knowledge” and “management” need to be defined to get what actually needs to be controlled.

Whitney Grace, July 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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