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Cybercrime as a Service Impacts Hotel Industry and Loyalty Points

February 4, 2016

The marketplaces of the Dark Web provide an interesting case study in innovation. Three types of Dark Web fraud aimed at the hotel industry, for example, was recently published on Cybel Blog. Delving into the types of cybercrime related to the hospitality industry, the article, like many others recently, discusses the preference of cybercriminals in dealing with account login information as opposed to credit cards as detectability is less likely. Travel agencies on the Dark Web are one such way cybercrime as a service exists:

“Dark Web “travel agencies” constitute a third type of fraud affecting hotel chains. These “agencies” offer room reservations at unbeatable prices. The low prices are explained by the fact that the seller is using fraud and hacking. The purchaser contacts the seller, specifying the hotel in which he wants to book a room. The seller deals with making the reservation and charges the service to the purchaser, generally at a price ranging from a quarter to a half of the true price per night of the room. Many sellers boast of making bookings without using stolen payment cards (reputed to be easy for hotels to detect), preferring to use loyalty points from hacked client accounts.”

What will they come up with next? The business to consumer (B2C) sector includes more than hotels and presents a multitude of opportunities for cybertheft. Innovation must occur on the industry side as well in order to circumvent such hacks.


Megan Feil, February 4, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Encrypted Enterprise Search

February 3, 2016

Another enterprise software distributor has taken the leap into a proprietary encrypted search engine.  Computer Technology Review informs us that “VirtualWorks Releases Its Encrypted Enterprise Search Platform ViaWorks Built On Hitachi Technology.”  VirtualWorks’s enterprise search platform is called ViaWorks and the company’s decision to release an encrypted search engine comes after there has been a rise in data security breaches as well as concern about how to prevent such attacks.  We will not even mention how organizations want to move to the cloud, but are fearful of hacking.  More organizations from shopping in person on the Internet, banking, healthcare, government, and even visiting a library use self-service portals that rely on personal information to complete tasks.  All of these portals can be hacked, so trade organizations and the government are instituting new security measures.

Everyone knows, however, that basic rules and a firewall are not enough to protect sensitive information.  That is why companies like VirtualWorks stay one step ahead of the game with a product like ViaWork built on Hitachi’s Searchable Encryption technology.  ViaWorks is a highly encrypted platform that does not sacrifice speed and accuracy for security

“ViaWorks encrypted enterprise search features are based on AES, a worldwide encryption standard established by NIST; special randomization process, making the encrypted data resistant to advanced statistical attacks; with key management and encryption APIs that store encryption keys securely and encrypt the original data.  ViaWorks provides key management and encryption APIs that store encryption keys securely and encrypt the original data, respectively. Users determine which field is encrypted, such as index files, search keyword or transaction logs.”

VirtualWorks already deployed ViaWorks in beta tests within healthcare, government, insurance, and finance.  Moving information to the cloud saves money, but it presents a security risk and slow search.  A commercial encrypted search engine paired with cloud computing limits the cyber risk.


Whitney Grace, February 3, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Big Data Is so Last Year, Data Analysts Inform Us

February 1, 2016

The article on Fortune titled Has Big Data Gone Mainstream? asks whether big data is now an expected part of data analysis. The “merger” as Deloitte advisor Tom Davenport puts it, makes big data an indistinguishable aspect of data crunching. Only a few years ago, it was a scary buzzword that executives scrambled to understand and few experts specialized in. The article shows what has changed lately,

“Now, however, universities offer specialized master’s degrees for advanced data analytics and companies are creating their own in-house programs to train talent in data science. The Deloitte report cites networking giant Cisco  CSCO -4.22%  as an example of a company that created an internal data science training program that over 200 employees have gone through. Because of media reports, consulting services, and analysts talking up “big data,” people now generally understand what big data means…”

Davenport sums up the trend nicely with the statement that people are tired of reading about big data and ready to “do it.” So what will replace big data as the current mysterious buzzword that irks laypeople and the C-suite simultaneously? The article suggests “cognitive computing” or computer systems using artificial intelligence for speech recognition, object identification, and machine learning. Buzz, buzz!

Chelsea Kerwin, February 1, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Customize Your News with Semantic Search

January 28, 2016

There are many apps available that can aggregate news stories that cater to your interests: Feedly, Google News, Pulp, and other RSS feeders.  While these apps have their strengths and weaknesses, one question you need to ask is: do they use semantic search?  If you want a news app designed specifically to bring you news stories using semantic search there is “Algo: Semantic Search Engine For Customizable News” and it can be purchased on iTunes.

SkyGrid developed Algo and Apple named it a “Best News App”.  It has earned a 4.5 star rating.  Algo was designed to keep users up-to-date on news, follow topics of interest, and your favorite publications to create your own personalized newspaper.

Algo is described as:

“The only true real-time news aggregator. Simple, fast, and reliable, Algo is the only place to follow all of your favorite topics and interests. Search for anything you want! From people to TV shows to companies to finance, follow your interests on Algo. Set notifications for each topic and be notified as information updates in real-time.”

Other Algo features are ability to share articles on any service, save favorite articles, notification settings, and up-to-date news in real time.  Algo’s reliance on semantic search is one of the reasons why it has gained such favor with Apple and iTunes users.


Whitney Grace, January 28, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Latest Perspectives Version from Tom Sawyer

December 29, 2015

Data visualization and analysis firm Tom Sawyer announces the latest release of their flagship platform in, “Tom Sawyer Software Releases Tom Sawyer Perspectives, Version 7.1, .NET Edition.” There is a new “timeline” view, and they promise a boost to layout performance. The press release specifies:

“Users can dynamically manipulate sliders in a timeline view to choose a specific time period. Once a time period is chosen, the elements within other views are filtered and updated accordingly to hone in on events based on time of occurrence.

“Users can now see how data progresses through time and focus on the events they are most interested in. Visualize the spread of an epidemic, the progression of crime in a city, or uncover how information disseminates across an organization’s departments.

“Tom Sawyer Perspectives, Version 7.1 also includes enhanced examples and user experience. New Crime Network, Commodity Flow, and Road Safety example applications are included, the look and feel of the tutorial applications is modernized, and neighborhood retrieval is improved. In addition, many quality and performance enhancements have been made in this release, including up to 16 percent improvement in layout performance.”

The write-up includes screenshots and links to further information, so interested readers should check it out. Founded in 1992, Tom Sawyer helps organizations in fields from intelligence to healthcare make connections and draw conclusions from data. The company maintains offices around the world, but makes its headquarters in Berkeley, California. They are also hiring as of this writing.


Cynthia Murrell, December 29, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Use the Sentiment Analysis Luke

December 22, 2015

The newest Star Wars film is out in theaters and any credible Star Wars geek has probably seen the film at least twice.  One theme that continues to be prevalent in the franchise is the use of the mystical, galactic power the Force.  The Force gives the Jedi special powers, such as the ability to read a person’s mind.  Computer Weekly says that data will be able to do the same thing in: “Sentiment Analysis With Hadoop: 5 Steps To Becoming A Mind Reader.”

While the article title reads more like a kit on how to became a psychic cheat, sentiment analysis has proven to predict a person’s actions, especially their shopping habits.  Sentiment analysis is a huge market for companies wanting to learn how to reach their shoppers on a more intimate level, predict trends before they happen, and connect with shoppers in real-time.  Apache Hadoop is a tool used to harness the power of data to make anyone with the right knowledge a mind reader and Twitter is one of the tools used.

First-data is collect, second-label data to create a data dictionary with positive or negative annotations, third-run analytics, fourth-run through a beta phase, and fifth-get the insights. While it sounds easy, the fourth step is going to be the biggest hassle:

“Remember that analytic tools that just look for positive or negative words can be entirely misleading if they miss important context. Typos, intentional misspellings, emoticons and jargon are just few additional obstacles in the task.

Computers also don’t understand sarcasm and irony and as a general rule are yet to develop a sense of humor. Too many of these and you will lose accuracy. It is probably best to address this point by fine-tuning your model.”

The purpose of sentiment analysis is teaching software how to “think” like a human and understand all our illogical ways.  (Hmm…that was a Star Trek reference, whoops!)  Hadoop Apache might not have light sabers or help you find droids, but it does offer to help understand consumers spending habits.   So how about, “These are the greenbacks you have been looking for.”

Whitney Grace, December 22, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Business Intelligence Free Trials. Do Not Forget Great Free Trials

December 8, 2015

Want to dive into next generation business intelligence without spending several hundred thousand dollars? If I were younger, I would think about diving. I might even think about business intelligence.

Navigate to “7 Great Business Intelligence Software With Free Trials.” You will learn about software, which the write up describes as “great”, like these:

  1. BIME, a data warehouse
  2. Cyfe, an all in one business analytics dashboard
  3. Decibel Insight, a Web analytics software
  4. SalesforceIQ, a system to analyze customer relationships
  5. Sisense, an “insightful Big Data analysis tool”
  6. Wave Analytics Cloud, visualization to help you understand your customer base
  7. Zoho Reports, a “simple business intelligence app”

I knew about Cyfe and Zoho, and these are useful tools. I did not know about the other products.

The use of the word “great” might be a bit of an overstatement, but when it comes to business intelligence hyperbole seems to be part of the standard marketing tool kit. Great. The write up may do some annoying. The links to the companies mentioned point to the article itself. Content marketing done with the care of a fast food cook listening to an iPod, watching other workers actually work, and dreaming about the weekend.

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2015

EHR Promises Yet to Be Realized

December 1, 2015

Electronic health records (EHRs) were to bring us reductions in cost and, just as importantly, seamless record-sharing between health-care providers. “Epic Fail” at Mother Jones explains why that has yet to happen. The short answer: despite government’s intentions, federation is simply not part of the Epic plan; vendor lock-in is too profitable to relinquish so easily.

Reporter Patrick Caldwell spends a lot of pixels discussing Epic Systems, the leading EHR vendor whose CEO sat on the Obama administration’s 2009 Health IT Policy Committee, where many EHR-related decisions were made. Epic, along with other EHR vendors, has received billions from the federal government to expand EHR systems. Caldwell writes:

“But instead of ushering in a new age of secure and easily accessible medical files, Epic has helped create a fragmented system that leaves doctors unable to trade information across practices or hospitals. That hurts patients who can’t be assured that their records—drug allergies, test results, X-rays—will be available to the doctors who need to see them. This is especially important for patients with lengthy and complicated health histories. But it also means we’re all missing out on the kind of system-wide savings that President Barack Obama predicted nearly seven years ago, when the federal government poured billions of dollars into digitizing the country’s medical records. ‘Within five years, all of America’s medical records are computerized,’ he announced in January 2009, when visiting Virginia’s George Mason University to unveil his stimulus plan. ‘This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests.’ Unfortunately, in some ways, our medical records aren’t in any better shape today than they were before.”

Caldwell taps into his own medical saga to effectively illustrate how important interoperability is to patients with complicated medical histories. Epic seems to be experiencing push-back, both from the government and from the EHR industry. Though the company was widely expected to score the massive contract to modernize the Department of Defense’s health records, that contract went instead to competitor Cerner. Meanwhile, some of Epic’s competitors have formed the nonprofit CommonWell Health Alliance Partnership, tasked with setting standards for records exchange. Epic has not joined that partnership, choosing instead to facilitate interoperability between hospitals that use its own software. For a hefty fee, of course.

Perhaps this will all be straightened out down the line, and we will finally receive both our savings and our medical peace of mind. In the meantime, many patients and providers struggle with changes that appear to have only complicated the issue.

Cynthia Murrell, December 1, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Candidates as the Top Business Intelligence Providers

November 30, 2015

I read “Top 10 Business Intelligence Software Services.” I must admit that I had heard of only two of the outfits on this list. I noted that there was zero information about the methodology used, who the “experts” were generating the list, and the particular angle each of the companies takes to “business intelligence.”

Here are the 10 outfits identified in the write up:

  • Cyfe
  • GoodData
  • HasOffers
  • Kissmetrics
  • Looker
  • Moz
  • Phocus
  • Salesforce Analytics Cloud
  • Similar Web
  • Tableau

I would suggest there are some other business intelligence vendors you may wish to review. I profile a dozen vendors in CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access. None of these outfits in the article made the cut for my study. I do provide information about why certain vendors were selected. I profile another batch of vendors in my forthcoming monograph The Dark Web Dilemma. Again, none of the vendors in the article’s list of 10 “leaders” made it past my researchers’ analyses.

Who cares about Google and In-Q-Tel backed outfits or companies pushing into high value real world applications of intelligence? The answer, gentle reader, is that I do.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2015

IBM Cognos 2015 Pricing

November 27, 2015

IBM offers many products and services. Getting a firm, fixed cost for some of these can be tough. Asking Watson may not result in too many useful IBM cost outputs. A company’s IBM representative may be able to deliver the goods.

Imagine my delight when I read a semi content marketing item called “IBM Cognos business intelligence offers Self-Service BI.”

Here are the data I found interesting:

Cognos BI on Cloud offers three levels of user pricing and four levels of administrator pricing. User pricing is as follows:

  • A workgroup license is $75 per user, per month, with a minimum subscription of 50 users and a minimum six-month term. It is renewed semi-annually with monthly billing.
  • A standard license is $95 per user, per month, with a minimum subscription of 100 users and a minimum one-year term. It is billed monthly and renewed annually.
  • An enterprise license is $125 per user, per month, with a minimum subscription of 150 users and a minimum one-year term. It is billed monthly and renewed annually.

Administrator pricing is as follows:

  • Analytics Administrator (authorized user [AU]): List price is $15,100 per AU; typical discount is 30% and annual support percentage is 20%.
  • Analytics Explorer (authorized user and processor [PVU]): $2,500 per AU; typical discount is 30% and annual support percentage is 20%.
  • Analytics User Authorized (user and processor [PVU]): $1,350 per AU; typical discount is 30% and annual support percentage 20%.
  • Information Distribution (processor [PVU]): $500 per PVU; typical discount is 30% and annual support percentage is 20%.

The “menu” includes the variable pricing elements which IBM has used for decades. When we licensed ABI/INFORM document delivery to IBM, I happily implemented the same pricing scheme. Wow, does that approach yield revenue? Yep, it does.

I would point out that the write up does not beat the Watson drum. I find this amusing because Watson is marketed by the Watson as an analytics champion. See, for example, “It’s Come to This for IBM: Watson Is Now a Gimmick App on the iPhone.” But never fear, Big Blue fans, IBM said in October 2015 that it was tweaking Cognos. How? According to eWeek, “IBM Redesigns Cognos Analytics to Resemble Watson Analytics.”

IBM has a bit of a revenue and profits hill to climb. IBM has the analytics tools to track its financial progress. Tools, however, do not equal sustainable, organic revenues.

Storm clouds remain even with the Weather Channel data.

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2015

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