Silobreaker Digs Deeper into Dark Web

November 9, 2017

The Dark Web is small, unmonitored part of the Internet.  While the Dark Web seems untraceable and unsearchable, many tech companies are making strides documenting it.  Silobreaker is one of the companies and they announced a partnership with Flashpoint to take on the Dark Web: “Silobreaker Expands Its Data Coverage To Deep And Dark Web By Teaming Up With Flashpoint.”  Flashpoint is a leading provider of business risk intelligence technology and they focus on uncovering Dark Web information.

Flashpoint recently released version four of their business risk intelligence API.  Along with the newest release, Silobreaker and Flashpoints’ team up means that more of their clients will be able to predict, detect, and resolve unstructured data into actionable intelligence.

How will Silobreaker and Flashpoint work together?

Flashpoint’s data is being ingested by Silobreaker’s platform, where it is indexed and fully integrated for use across all analytical tools, visualizations and workflow features. When correlated with Silobreaker’s open source data, this combination empowers customers to move seamlessly between the two data-sets in a single application, expanding their analyses to include both.

The only downside is in order to take advantage of the team up, their clients must have licenses to both companies.  Maybe they will offer a bundle deal if you ask nicely.

Whitney Grace, November 9, 2017

 

A Flashing Way to Find Business Risks

November 8, 2017

Business intelligence involves many factors that range from enterprise systems to big data business analytics.  Another aspect is determining the risk of business decisions.  While a piece of software does not exist that can accurately predict the future, technology companies have come close.  Programmable Web published the article, “Flashpoint Launches V4 Of Its Business Risk Intelligence API” that describes one company’s newest endeavors in business risk intelligence.

Flashpoint’s business risk intelligence API is officially on its fourth version.  Dubbed Flashpoint API 4, the software provides a set of cybersecurity tools and the newest version includes a dataset for Risk Intelligence Observables (RIOs).  RIOs dig deeper than past indicators in specified activities to deliver secure insights.

The Flashpoint API aims to deliver near to real-time access to its security services. Because of RESTful API access, Flashpoint technology is available to entry-level users and enterprises alike. Through the API, users can search across Finished Intelligence, Deep & Dark Web data, and RIOs. A key component of Flashpoint’s strategy is context surrounding threats, and the API’s customization options allow users to define and address context to suit specific needs. Contact the Flashpoint team for more information.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about version four’s release is the partner community.  These include ThreatConnect, ThreatQuotient, Silobreaker, and Anomali.  These four companies are part of Flashpoint’s Strategic Partner Network and all have the goal to help companies detect cybercrime and other threats.

Whitney Grace, November 8, 2017

Report Assesses Todays Voice Assistant Landscape

November 2, 2017

Having observed the recent boom in AI-powered voice-assistant products, Business Insider’s research service, BI Intelligence, has conducted a study on the issue. The site promotes their findings in their preview, “The Voice Assistant Landscape Report.” Writer Jessica Smith begins with an overview of recent developments: AI has become more accurate; mobile networks are more powerful; and smart appliances (aka the “internet of things”) supply more opportunities for voice-command control. By 2015, she reports, 65% of those with smartphones in the U.S. used voice assistants with those devices. Also, sales of Google Home and Amazon Echo are expected to triple this year, to 24.5 million units. Still, we’re told there remain significant obstacles, both social and technical, to widespread adoption just yet.

Smith shares some findings from the report. Among them:

Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable. These improvements fall into two categories: improvements in AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning; and gains in computing and telecommunications infrastructure, like more powerful smartphones, better cellular networks, and faster cloud computing.

Changes in consumer behavior and habits are also leading to greater adoption. Chief among these are increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated by younger consumers.

The voice assistant landscape is divided between smartphone- and speaker-based assistants. These distinctions, while important now, will lose relevance in the long run as more assistants can be used on both kinds of devices. The primary players in the space are Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s Viv.

Stakes in the competition for dominance in the voice assistant market are high. As each assistant becomes more interconnected with an ecosystem of devices that it can control, more popular platforms will have a sizable advantage.

Naturally, the article concludes by telling us how to get our hands on the full report. You could invest in the BI Intelligence “All-Access” pass if you are really, really into research reports. Or, you could just purchase and download this particular report here for $495.

Cynthia Murrell, November 2, 2017

 

The Narrowing App Market

September 29, 2017

If you are thinking of going into app development, first take a gander at this write-up; Business Insider reports, “Half of Digital Media Time Is Spent in Five Apps.” Citing comScore’s 2017 US Mobile App Report , writer Laurie Beaver tells us:

Users spend 90% of their mobile app time in their top five apps, making up 51% of total digital time spent. Perhaps more alarming is that half of the time spent on smartphones is within just one app. That drops dramatically to 18% of time for the second most used app. This suggests that unless a brand’s or business’ app is the first or second most used (most likely Facebook- or Google-owned), it’s unlikely to get any meaningful share of users’ attention.

There are a few reasons for developers to take heart—the number of app downloads is picking up, and users have become more willing to allow push notifications. Most importantly, perhaps, is that users are making in-app purchases; that is where most apps make their money. Beaver continues:

Nevertheless, the report shows the astonishing influence Facebook and Google have over how US mobile app users spend their time. And given the increasingly large share the top five apps have, it’s likely to only become more difficult for brands and publishers to receive any share of users’ time. Alternate app experiences such as Apple’s iMessage apps, Google’s Instant Apps, and Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games could provide brands and publishers with new avenues to reach consumers where they’re spending their time. While these services are nascent, they do provide a promising option for businesses moving forward.

We’re reminded that apps have gained ground over browsers, and are now the main way folks get online. However, the trends toward app consolidation and app abandonment may lead to a “post-app” future. Never fear, though—Business Insider’s research service, BI Intelligence, offers a report titled “The End of Apps” ($495) that could help businesses and developers prepare for the future. Founded in 2007, Business Insider is headquartered in New York City.

Cynthia Murrell, September 29, 2017

Why the Future of Computing Lies in Natural Language Processing

September 26, 2017

In a blog post, EasyAsk declares, “Cognitive Computing, Natural Language & AI: Game Changers.”  We must keep in mind that the “cognitive eCommerce” company does have a natural language search engine to sell, so they are a little biased. Still, writer and CEO Craig Bassin make some good points. He begins by citing research firm Gartner’s assessment that natural-language query “will dramatically change human-computer interaction.” After throwing in a couple amusing videos, Bassin examines the role of natural language in two areas of business, business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM). He writes:

That shift [to natural language and cognitive computing] enables two things. First, it enables users to ask a computer questions the same way they’d ask an associate, or co-worker. Second, it enables the computer to actually answer the question. That’s the game changer. The difference is a robust Natural Language Linguistic Engine. Let’s go back to the examples above for a reexamination of our questions. For BI, what if there was an app that looked beyond the dashboards into the data to answer ah-hoc questions? Instead of waiting days for a report to be generated, you could have it on the fly – right at your fingertips. For CRM, what if that road warrior could ask and answer questions about the current status across prospects in a specific region to deduce where his/her time would be best spent? Gartner and Forrester see the shift happening. In Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Report for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms [PDF], strategic planning assumptions incorporate the use of natural language. It may sound like a pipe dream now, but this is the future.

Naturally, readers can find natural-language goodness in EasyAsk’s platform which, to be fair, has been building their cognitive computing tech for years now. Businesses looking for a more sophisticated search solution would do well to check them out—along with their competition.  Based in Burlington, Mass., EasyAsk also maintains their European office in Berkshire, UK. The company was founded in 2000 and was acquired by Progress Software in 2005.

Cynthia Murrell, September 26, 2017

Analytics for the Non-Tech Savvy

August 18, 2017

I regularly encounter people who say they are too dumb to understand technology. When people tell themselves this, they are hindering their learning ability and are unable to adapt to a society that growing more dependent on mobile devices, the Internet, and instantaneous information.  This is especially harmful for business entrepreneurs.  The Next Web explains, “How Business Intelligence Can Help Non-Techies Use Data Analytics.”

The article starts with the statement that business intelligence is changing in a manner equivalent to how Windows 95 made computers more accessible to ordinary people.  The technology gatekeeper is being removed.  Proprietary software and licenses are expensive, but cloud computing and other endeavors are driving the costs down.

Voice interaction is another way BI is coming to the masses:

Semantic intelligence-powered voice recognition is simply the next logical step in how we interact with technology. Already, interfaces like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are letting us query and interact with vast amounts of information simply by talking. Although these consumer-level tools aren’t designed for BI, there are plenty of new voice interfaces on the way that are radically simplifying how we query, analyze, process, and understand complex data.

 

One important component here is the idea of the “chatbot,” a software agent that acts as an automated guide and interface between your voice and your data. Chatbots are being engineered to help users identify data and guide them into getting the analysis and insight they need.

I see this as the smart people are making their technology available to the rest of us and it could augment or even improve businesses.  We are on the threshold of this technology becoming commonplace, but does it have practicality attached to it?  Many products and services are common place, but it they only have flashing lights and whistles what good are they?

Whitney Grace, August 18, 2017

Big Datas Big Leap

August 11, 2017

One of the biggest problems of players of Business Intelligence through Big Data is its adoption. While companies with deep pockets are still scratching their heads, the industry will take off only when small and medium sized business adopt it.

According to an article published by Stats and Bots titled Open Source Business Intelligence, the author says:

Open source BI allows businesses to install the core platform on any system in their environment for free. Hundreds of developers are continuously improving and expanding these products. You can benefit from regular updates, or even customize BI software by modifying or extending source code to meet your company’s specific needs.

Open source tools for adopting BI solutions will go a long way in establishing the industry. The biggest stumbling block in adopting these solutions is cost of implementation. Thus, BI companies now are offering their tools free of cost and as open source.

Google, in order to capture the mobile OS market, offered its flagship OS Android free of cost to OEM and third parties. This enabled the company to create an ecosystem around the OS that is worth billions of dollars now. Open Source is the way to go it seems.

Vishal Ingole, August 11, 2017

Crowd Wisdom Adjusted to Measure Information Popularity

June 2, 2017

The article on ScienceDaily titled In Crowd Wisdom, the ‘Surprisingly Popular’ Answer Can Trump Ignorance of the Masses conveys the latest twist on crowd wisdom, or efforts to answer questions by asking many people rather than specialists. Unsurprisingly, crowd wisdom often is not very wise at all, but rather favors the most popular information. The article uses the example of asking various populations whether Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania. Those who answered yes also believed that others would agree, making it a popular answer. The article goes on to explain,

Meanwhile, a certain number of respondents knew that the correct answer is “no.” But these people also anticipated that many other people would incorrectly think the capital is Philadelphia, so they also expected a very high percentage of “yes” answers. Thus, almost everyone expected other people to answer “yes,” but the actual percentage of people who did was significantly lower. “No” was the surprisingly popular answer because it exceeded expectations of what the answer would be.

By measuring the perceived popularity of a given answer, researchers saw errors reduced by over 20% compared to straightforward majority votes, and by almost 25% compared to confidence-weighted votes. As in the case of the Philadelphia question above, those who predicted that they were in the minority deserve the most attention because they had enough information to expect that many people would incorrectly vote yes. If you take away nothing else from this, let it be that Harrisburg, not Philly, is the capital of Pennsylvania.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 2, 2017

Palantir Technologies: A Beatdown Buzz Ringing in My Ears

April 27, 2017

I have zero contacts at Palantir Technologies. The one time I valiantly contacted the company about a speaking opportunity at one of my wonky DC invitation-only conferences, a lawyer from Palantir referred my inquiry to a millennial who had a one word vocabulary, “No.”

There you go.

I have written about Palantir Technologies because I used to be an adviser to the pre-IBM incarnation of i2 and its widely used investigation tool, Analyst’s Notebook. I did write about a misadventure between i2 Group and Palantir Technologies, but no one paid much attention to my commentary.

An outfit called Buzzfeed, however, does pay attention to Palantir Technologies. My hunch is that the online real news outfit believes there is a story in the low profile, Peter Thiel-supported company. The technology Palantir has crafted is not that different from the Analyst’s Notebook, Centrifuge Systems’ solution, and quite a few other companies which provide industrial-strength software and systems to law enforcement, security firms, and the intelligence community. (I list about 15 of these companies in my forthcoming “Dark Web Notebook.” No, I won’t provide that list in this free blog. I may be retired, but I am not giving away high value information.)

So what’s caught my attention. I read the article “Palantir’s Relationship with the Intelligence Community Has Been Worse Than You Think.” The main idea is that the procurement of Palantir’s Gotham and supporting services provided by outfits specializing in Palantir systems has not been sliding on President Reagan’s type of Teflon. The story has been picked up and recycled by several “real” news outfits; for example, Brainsock. The story meshes like matryoshkas with other write ups; for example, “Inside Palantir, Silicon Valley’s Most Secretive Company” and “Palantir Struggles to Retain Clients and Staff, BuzzFeed Reports.” Palantir, it seems to me in Harrod’s Creek, is a newsy magnet.

The write up about Palantir’s lousy relationship with the intelligence community pivots on a two year old video. I learned that the Big Dog at Palantir, Alex Karp, said in a non public meeting which some clever Hobbit type videoed on a smartphone words presented this way by the real news outfit:

The private remarks, made during a staff meeting, are at odds with a carefully crafted public image that has helped Palantir secure a $20 billion valuation and win business from a long list of corporations, nonprofits, and governments around the world. “As many of you know, the SSDA’s recalcitrant,” Karp, using a Palantir codename for the CIA, said in the August 2015 meeting. “And we’ve walked away, or they walked away from us, at the NSA. Either way, I’m happy about that.” The CIA, he said, “may not like us. Well, when the whole world is using Palantir they can still not like us. They’ll have no choice.” Suggesting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had also had friction with Palantir, he continued, “That’s de facto how we got the FBI, and every other recalcitrant place.”

Okay, I don’t know the context of the remarks. It does strike me that 2015 was more than a year ago. In the zippy doo world of Sillycon Valley, quite a bit can change in one year.

I don’t know if you recall Paul Doscher who was the CEO of Exalead USA and Lucid Imagination (before the company asserted that its technology actually “works). Mr. Doscher is a good speaker, but he delivered a talk in 2009, captured on video, during which he was interviewed by a fellow in a blue sport coat and shirt. Mr. Doscher wore a baseball cap in gangsta style, a crinkled unbuttoned shirt, and evidenced a hipster approach to discussing travel. Now if you know Mr. Doscher, he is not a manager influenced by gangsta style. My hunch is that he responded to an occasion, and he elected to approach travel with a bit of insouciance.

Could Mr. Karp, the focal point of the lousy relationship article, have been responding to an occasion? Could Mr. Karp have adopted a particular tone and style to express frustration with US government procurement? Keep in mind that a year later, Palantir sued the US Army. My hunch is that views expressed in front of a group of employees may not be news of the moment. Interesting? Sure.

What I find interesting is that the coverage of Palantir Technologies does not dig into the parts of the company which I find most significant. To illustrate: Palantir has a system and method for an authorized user to add new content to the Gotham system. The approach makes it possible to generate an audit trail to make it easy (maybe trivial) to answer these questions:

  1. What data were added?
  2. When were the data added?
  3. What person added the data?
  4. What index terms were added to the data?
  5. What entities were added to the metadata?
  6. What special terms or geographic locations were added to the data?

You get the idea. Palantir’s Gotham brings to intelligence analysis the type of audit trail I found some compelling in the Clearwell system and other legal oriented systems. Instead of a person in information technology saying in response to a question like “Where did this information come from?”, “Duh. I don’t know.”

Gotham gets me an answer.

For me, explaining the reasoning behind Palantir’s approach warrants a write up. I think quite a few people struggling with problems of data quality and what is called by the horrid term “governance” would find Palantir’s approach of some interest.

Now do I care about Palantir? Nah.

Do I care about bashing Palantir? Nah.

What I do care about is tabloidism taking precedence over substantive technical approaches. From my hollow in rural Kentucky, I see folks looking for “sort of” information.

How about more substantive information? I am fed up with podcasts which recycle old information with fake good cheer. I am weary of leaks. I want to know about Palantir’s approach to search and content processing and have its systems and methods compared to what its direct competitors purport to do.

Yeah, I know this is difficult to do. But nothing worthwhile comes easy, right?

I can hear the millennials shouting, “Wrong, you dinosaur.” Hey, no problem. I own a house. I don’t need tabloidism. I have picked out a rest home, and I own 60 cemetery plots.

Do your thing, dudes and dudettes of “real” journalism.

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2017

Connexica (Formerly Ardentia NetSearch) Embraces Business Analytics

December 31, 2016

You may remember Ardentia NetSearch. The company’s original product was NetSearch, which was designed to be quick to deploy and designed for the end use, not the information technology department. The company changed its name to Connexica in 2001. I checked the company’s Web site and noted that the company positions itself this way:

Our mission is to turn smart data discovery into actionable information for everyone.

What’s interesting is that Connexica asserts that

“search engine technology is the simplest and fastest way for users to service their own information needs.”

The idea is that if one can use Google, one can use Connexica’s systems. A brief description of the company states:

Connexica is the world’s pioneer of search based analytics.

The company offers Cxair. This is a Java based Web application. The application provides search engine based data discovery. The idea is that Cxair permits “fast, effective and agile business analytics.” What struck me was the assertion that Cxair is usable with “poor quality data.” The idea is to create reports without having to know the formal query syntax of SQL.

The company’s MetaVision produce is a Java based Web application that “interrogates database metadata.” The idea, as I understand it, is to use MetaVision to help migrate data into Hadoop, Cxair, or ElasticSearch.

Connexica, partly funded by Midven, is a privately held company based in the UK. The firm has more than 200 customers and more than 30 employees. When updating my files, I noted that Zoominfo reports that the firm was founded in 2006, but that conflicts with my file data which pegs the company operating as early as 2001.

A quick review of the company’s information on its Web site and open sources suggests that the firm is focusing its sales and marketing efforts on health care, finance, and government customers.

Connexica is another search vendor which has performed a successful pivot. Search technology is secondary to the company’s other applications.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2016

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