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How Semantic Technology Will Revolutionize Education

November 27, 2015

Will advanced semantic technology return us to an age of Socratic education? In a guest post at Forbes, Declara’s Nelson González suggests that’s exactly where we’re heading; the headline declares, “The Revolution Will Be Semantic: Web3.0 and the Emergence of Collaborative Intelligence.” In today’s world, stuffing a lot of facts into each of our heads is much less important than the ability to find and share information effectively. González writes:

“Most importantly, Web3.0 is opening paths to collaborative intelligence. Isolated individual learning is increasingly irrelevant to organizational health, which is measured largely through group metrics. Today, public and private institutions live or die based on the efficiency, innovation, and impact of corporate efforts.”

The post points to content curators like Flipboard and Pinterest as examples of such collective adaptive  capacity, then looks at effects this shift is already beginning to have on education. González gives a couple of examples he’s seen around the world, and discusses ways collaboration software like his company’s can facilitate new ways of learning. See the article for details. He writes:

“Web 3.0 is unleashing a kind of ‘back to the future’ innovation, the digital democratization of what élites have always practiced: deep learning through imitative apprenticeship, humanistic personalization via real-time observation, and mastery through crowdsourced validation. Silicon Valley is thus enabling us all to become the sons and daughters of Socrates.”

Launched in 2012, Declara set out to build better bridges between online sources of knowledge. The company is based in Palo Alto, California.

Cynthia Murrell, November 27, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

MarkLogic Does Ecommerce

November 25, 2015

On their blog, MarkLogic announces they are “Eliminating Shopper Fatigue: Making Online Commerce Faster, More Accurate.” Anyone who has tried to shop online for a very particular item understands the frustration. Despite all the incentives to quickly serve up exactly what a customer is looking for, ecommerce sites still struggle with searches that get too specific. Writer (and MarkLogic chief marketing officer) Michaline Todd gives this example: A site that sells 652 different versions of a “screwdriver” returns zero results to the phrase “one-quarter-inch slotted magnetic screwdriver.” You know it must be there somewhere, but you have to comb through the 652 screwdriver entries to find it. That or give up and drive to the local hardware store, where a human will hook you up with exactly what you need. Good for local business, but bad for that ecommerce site.

Todd says the problem lies in traditional relational databases, upon which any eCommerce sites are built. These databases were not meant to handle unstructured data, like supplier-created product descriptions. She describes her company’s solution to the problem, which naturally includes MarkLogic’s NoSQL technology:

“The beauty of NoSQL is that it’s a schema-agnostic data model that ingests data in whatever its current form. Codifyd uses MarkLogic to quickly and reliably merge millions of data points from thousands of suppliers into a product catalogue for each of its clients. By gathering such fine-tuned information instantaneously, Codifyd recommends products matched to specific attributes in real time, increasing customer trust, loyalty and retention. This more precise information also allows retailers to bundle relevant product offers in a set, improving upselling and increasing the average order size. For example, a retailer can serve up the ‘one-quarter-inch slotted magnetic screwdriver’ the customers searched for as well as a toolkit that contains that particular screwdriver.”

Todd notes that Codifyd also dramatically speeds up the process of posting entries for new products, since unstructured data can be reproduced as-is. Launched in 2001, MarkLogic proudly declares that theirs is the only enterprise-level NoSQL platform in existence. The company is headquartered in San Carlos, California, and maintains offices around the world.

Cynthia Murrell, November 25, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Business Intelligence Services Partnership Between Swedish Tech Companies Zinnovate and Yellowfin

November 25, 2015

The article titled Business Intelligence Vendor Yellowfin Signs Global Reseller Agreement with Zinnovate on Sys-Con Media provides an overview of the recent partnership between the two companies. Zinnovate will be able to offer Yellowfin’s Business Intelligence solutions and services, and better fulfill the needs that small and mid-size businesses have involving enterprise quality BI. The article quotes Zinnovate CEO Hakan Nilsson on the exciting capabilities of Yellowfin’s technology,

“Flexible deployment options were also important… As a completely Web-based application, Yellowfin has been designed with SaaS hosting in mind from the beginning, making it simple to deploy on-premise or as a cloud-based solution. Yellowfin’s licensing model is simple. Clients can automatically access Yellowfin’s full range of features, including its intuitive data visualization options, excellent Mobile BI support and collaborative capabilities. Yellowfin provides a robust enterprise BI platform at a very competitive price point.”

As for the perks to Yellowfin, the Managing Director Peter Baxter explained that Zinnovate was positioned to help grow the presence of the brand in Sweden and in the global transport and logistics market. In the last few years, Zinnovate has developed its service portfolio to include customers in banking and finance. Both companies share a dedication to customer-friendly, intuitive solutions.
Chelsea Kerwin, November 25, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Axel Springer Snaps Up Business Insider

November 24, 2015

I often find myself at Business Insider, reading about a recent development. That’s why I was intrigued by the article, “Sold! Axel Springer Bets Big on Digital, Buys Business Insider” at re/code. Though for me the name conjures an image of a sensationalistic talk-show host with a bandana and a wide vocal range, Axel Springer is actually a publisher based in Germany, and has been around since 1946. We note that they also own stake in the Qwant search engine, and their website touts they are now the “leading digital publisher in Europe.” This is one traditional publisher that is taking the world’s shift to the digital realm head on.

Writer Peter Kafka sees a connection between this acquisition and Axel Springer’s failed bid to buy the venerable Financial Times. He writes:

“Axel Springer is a Berlin-based publisher best known as the owner of newspapers Die Welt and Bild. In July, it missed its chance to buy the Financial Times, the august, 127-year-old business news publisher, when it was outbid at the last second by Japan’s Nikkei. Business Insider shares very little in common with the FT, other than they both deal with financial topics: While the FT has built out its own digital operations in recent years, it’s a subscription-based business whose stock-in-trade is sober, restrained reporting. Business Insider is a fast-twitch publisher, pitched at readers who’ve grown up on the Web and based on a free, ad-supported business model. While the site was famous for its you-bet-you’ll-keep-clicking headlines and slideshows, it also did plenty of serious reporting; in the last year it has been on an expansion binge, adding a British outpost, a new tech site and a new gambit that’s supposed to create viral content that lives on platforms like Facebook. Today’s transaction appears to link the FT and BI: Industry executives think Springer’s inability to land the Financial Times made them that much hungrier to get Business Insider.”

Perhaps, but this deal may be a wise choice nevertheless. Digital news and information is here to stay, and Business Insider seems to have figured out the format. We’ll see how Axel Springer leverages that know-how.

Cynthia Murrell, November 24, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

No Mole, Just Data

November 23, 2015

It all comes down to putting together the pieces, we learn from Salon’s article, “How to Explain the KGB’s Aazing Success Identifying CIA Agents in the Field?” For years, the CIA was convinced there was a Soviet mole in their midst; how else to explain the uncanny knack of the 20th Century’s KGB to identify CIA agents? Now we know it was due to the brilliance of one data-savvy KGB agent, Yuri Totrov, who analyzed U.S. government’s personnel data to separate the spies from the rest of our workers overseas. The technique was very effective, and all without the benefit of today’s analytics engines.

Totrov began by searching the KGB’s own data, and that of allies like Cuba, for patterns in known CIA agent postings. He also gleaned a lot if info from  publicly available U.S. literature and from local police. Totrov was able to derive 26 “unchanging indicators” that would pinpoint a CIA agent, as well as many other markers less universal but useful. Things like CIA agents driving the same car and renting the same apartment as their immediate predecessors. Apparently, logistics agents back at Langley did not foresee that such consistency, though cost-effective, could be used against us.

Reporter Jonathan Haslam elaborates:

“Thus one productive line of inquiry quickly yielded evidence: the differences in the way agency officers undercover as diplomats were treated from genuine foreign service officers (FSOs). The pay scale at entry was much higher for a CIA officer; after three to four years abroad a genuine FSO could return home, whereas an agency employee could not; real FSOs had to be recruited between the ages of 21 and 31, whereas this did not apply to an agency officer; only real FSOs had to attend the Institute of Foreign Service for three months before entering the service; naturalized Americans could not become FSOs for at least nine years but they could become agency employees; when agency officers returned home, they did not normally appear in State Department listings; should they appear they were classified as research and planning, research and intelligence, consular or chancery for security affairs; unlike FSOs, agency officers could change their place of work for no apparent reason; their published biographies contained obvious gaps; agency officers could be relocated within the country to which they were posted, FSOs were not; agency officers usually had more than one working foreign language; their cover was usually as a ‘political’ or ‘consular’ official (often vice-consul); internal embassy reorganizations usually left agency personnel untouched, whether their rank, their office space or their telephones; their offices were located in restricted zones within the embassy; they would appear on the streets during the working day using public telephone boxes; they would arrange meetings for the evening, out of town, usually around 7.30 p.m. or 8.00 p.m.; and whereas FSOs had to observe strict rules about attending dinner, agency officers could come and go as they pleased.”

In the era of Big Data, it seems like common sense to expect such deviations to be noticed and correlated, but it was not always so obvious. Nevertheless, Totrov’s methods did cause embarrassment for the agency when they were revealed. Surely, the CIA has changed their logistic ways dramatically since then to avoid such discernable patterns. Right?

Cynthia Murrell, November 23, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


No Microfiche Required

November 16, 2015

Longstanding publications are breathing new life into their archives by re-publishing key stories online, we learn from NiemanLab’s article, “Esquire Has a Cold: How the Magazine is Mining its Archives with the Launch of Esquire Classics.” We learn that Esquire has been posting older articles on their Esquire Classics website, timed to coincide with related current events. For example, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death last April, the site republished a 1968 article about his assassination.

Other venerable publications are similarly tapping into their archives. Writer Joseph Lichterman notes:

“Esquire, of course, isn’t the only legacy publication that’s taking advantage of archival material once accessible only via bound volumes or microfiche. Earlier this month, the Associated Press republished its original coverage of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination 150 years ago…. Gawker Media’s Deadspin has The Stacks, which republishes classic sports journalism originally published elsewhere. For its 125th anniversary last year, The Wall Street Journal published more than 300 archival articles. The New York Times runs a Twitter account, NYT Archives, that resurfaces archival content from the Times. It also runs First Glimpses, a series that examines the first time famous people or concepts appeared in the paper.”

This is one way to adapt to the altered reality of publication. Perhaps with more innovative thinking, the institutions that have kept us informed for decades (or centuries) will survive to deliver news to our great-grandchildren. But will it be beamed directly into their brains? That is another subject entirely.


Cynthia Murrell, November 16, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Expect Disruption from Future Technology

November 13, 2015

A dystopian future where technology has made humanity obsolete is a theme older than the Industrial Revolution.  History has proven that while some jobs are phased out thanks to technology more jobs are created by it, after all someone needs to monitor and make the machines.  As technology grows and makes computing systems capable of reason, startups are making temporary gigs permanent jobs, and 3D printing makes it possible to make any object, the obsolete humanity idea does not seem so far-fetched.  Kurzweilai shares a possible future with “The SAP Future Series: Digital Technology’s Exponential Growth Curve Foretells Avalanche Of Business Disruption.”

While technology has improved lives of countless people, it is disrupting industries.  These facts prove to be insightful into how disruptive:

  • In 2015 Airbnb will become the largest hotel chain in the world, launched in 2008, with more than 850,000 rooms, and without owning any hotels.
  • From 2012 to 2014, Uber consumed 65% of San Francisco’s taxi business.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics put 47% of US employment — over 60 million jobs — at high risk of being replaced in the next decade.
  • 10 million new autonomous vehicles per year may be entering US highways by 2030.
  • Today’s sensors are 1 billion times better — 1000x lighter, 1000x cheaper, 1000x the resolution — than only 40 years ago. By 2030, 100 trillion sensors could be operational worldwide.
  • DNA sequencing cost dropped precipitously — from $1 billion to $5,000 —  in 15 years. By 2020 could be $0.01.
  • In 2000 it took $5,000,000 to launch an internet start-up. Today the cost is less than $5,000.

Using a series of videos, SAP explains how disruption will change the job market, project management, learning, and even predicting future growth.  Rather than continuing the dystopia future projections, SAP positions itself to offer hope and ways to adapt for your success.  Humanity will be facing huge changes because of technology in the near future, but our successful ability to adapt always helps us evolve.

3DWhitney Grace, November 13, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Product Hunt Adds Collections to Its Search Results

November 13, 2015

Product Hunt is a website for the cutting-edge consumer, where users share information about the latest and greatest in the tech market. The Next Web tells us, “Product Hunt Now Lets You Follow and Search for Collections.” A “collection” can be established by any user to curate and share groups of products. An example would be a selection of website-building tools, or of the best electronic-device accessories for charging electronic devices. The very brief write-up reveals:

Product Hunt, the Web’s favorite destination to discover new apps, gadgets and connected services, has updated its Collections feature, allowing users to follow and search for curated lists. You can now follow any collection you find interesting to receive notifications when new products are added to them. Collections will also show up in search results alongside products. In addition, curators can add comments to products in their collections to describe them or note why they’ve included them in their list.”

So now finding the best of the latest is even easier. An important tool for anyone with a need, and the means, to keep in front of the technology curve. Launched in 2013, Product Hunt is based in San Francisco. Their Collections feature was launched last December, and this year the site also added sections specifically for books and for games.

Cynthia Murrell, November 13, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Takes Aim at Internet Crime

November 12, 2015

Google has a plan to thwart Internet crime: make it too expensive to be worth it. The company’s Online Security Blog examines the issue in “New Research: The Underground Market Fueling For-Profit Abuse.” The research was presented last June at the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security 2015; I recommend those interested check out the full report here.

The post describes the global online black market that has grown over the last ten years or so, where criminals trade in such items as stolen records, exploit kits, scam hosting, and access to compromised computers. The profit centers which transfer the shady funds rest upon an infrastructure, the pieces of which cost money. Google plans to do what it can to increase those costs. The write-up explains:

“Client and server-side security has dominated industry’s response to digital abuse over the last decade. The spectrum of solutions—automated software updates, personal anti-virus, network packet scanners, firewalls, spam filters, password managers, and two-factor authentication to name a few—all attempt to reduce the attack surface that criminals can penetrate. While these safeguards have significantly improved user security, they create an arms race: criminals adapt or find the subset of systems that remain vulnerable and resume operation.

“To overcome this reactive defense cycle, we are improving our approach to abuse fighting to also strike at the support infrastructure, financial centers, and actors that incentivize abuse. By exploring the value chain required to bulk register accounts, we were able to make Google accounts 30–40% more expensive on the black market. Success stories from our academic partners include disrupting payment processing for illegal pharmacies and counterfeit software outlets advertised by spam, cutting off access to fake accounts that pollute online services, and disabling the command and control infrastructure of botnets.”

Each of the links in the above quote goes to an in-depth paper, so there’s plenty of material to check out there. Society has been trying for centuries to put black markets out of business. Will the effort be more successful in the virtual realm?

Cynthia Murrell, November 12, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Business Intelligence: Sort of Like Enterprise Search

November 11, 2015

I read a mini listicle called “3 reasons Business Intelligence Projects Fail and How to Avoid Them.” The article is 348 words in length. The article is “sponsored content,” which means an outfit called Sisense paid to get this listicle in front of folks like me. Well, maybe not exactly like me.

The problems of business intelligence are the same problems bedeviling those who would implement an enterprise search system or any system. The folks involved have to have time to set up and make the system work. The people using the system have to be trained. And the system will trigger hidden costs.

Great. No hidden costs.

I wondered what a Sisense did for a living. According to the Sisense Web site, the company “simplifies business intelligence for complex data.” The Web site asserts:

The only business intelligence software that lets you easily prepare and analyze both big and disparate datasets.

Here’s the description of the company:

Sisense is an award-winning, full-stack Business Intelligence and Analytics software that’s leading the way into a new era of BI. Our software is creating quite a buzz for its powerful technology as Sisense is the only fully-functional Business Intelligence tool that lets non-techies join multiple large data sets, build smart dashboards with great data visualizations, and share with thousands of users. Our secret sauce is the incredible technology behind Sisense that’s designed to be used by business users, without dependence on coding, IT or data scientists. Sisense provides a centralized database on standard hardware, and serves more queries, more users, and more data than any other BI tool on the market.

I like the word “incredible.” In my opinion, the mini listicle which tells me how to avoid the three reasons why business intelligence project fails seems a trifle fluffy.

Sigh. That makes sense.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2015

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