Cyber Weapons Becoming Big Bucks

January 15, 2018

Cyberwarfare, meet capitalism. Here’s a twist we didn’t see coming. According to sources, digital weaponry and the defenses needed to fight them are now one of the hottest markets in the world. Just take a look at a recent SAT PR News story, “Cyber Weapon Market is Expected to Reach a Valuation of US $521.87 billion by the End of 2021.”

According to the story:

Governments, intelligence agencies, and other organizations have spiked their investment to identify zero-day exploits and use them against enemy networks when necessary. With an aim of capitalizing on the prevalent trend, several traditional arms manufacturing companies are expanding their businesses in the cyber security segment. This will in turn fuel the development of cyber weapons.

 

The market is also expected to gain from the increasing demand for security across critical infrastructure and utilities.

This should come as no surprise. Just as government contractors have cashed in on creating physical weaponry, the digital world is finally going to have its Raytheons. Look at this Fast Company story about how a company you’ve probably never heard of, Pegasus, is worth a billion dollars. Welcome to the new dot-com boom.

Watch our Dark Cyber video news program each week. The video is available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress

Patrick Roland, January 15, 2018

Some Think the Time Has Come for Government Regulation of Social Media

December 7, 2017

In this era of fake news and data hacking, some people think it’s time for the government to step in and help. As the stakes get higher, commentators think that we can no longer police ourselves on the internet. This thought was brought up in a recent Bill Moyers piece, “The Facebook Inside Facebook.”

According to the story:

But in the US, it’s time to consider more dramatic measures. Speaking of disclosure, many social scientists outside the company would like Facebook to open up more of its data — for one reason among others, to understand how their algorithms work. There are those in the company who say they would respond reasonably if reformers and researchers got specific about what data they want to see. What specifically should they ask?

 

Should there be, along British lines, a centrally appointed regulatory board? Since 2003, the UK has had an Office of Communications with regulatory powers. Its board is appointed by a Cabinet minister.

This is an interesting prospect. Perhaps an FCC-style regulatory commission could help weed out all the quirks that make social media potentially dangerous. Even Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor thinks the time has come. However, all of this would require Facebook to open up their algorithms to outside eyes and, as anyone remotely interested in social media knows, those codes are the company’s bread and butter. We think it’ll be a snowy day in Death Valley before Silicon Valley welcomes oversight.

Patrick Roland, December 7, 2017

The Worlds Wealthiest People Should Fear Big Data

November 24, 2017

One of the strengths that the planets elite and wealthy have is secrecy. In most cases, average folks and media don’t know where big money is stored or how it is acquired. However, that recently changed for The Queen of England, several Trump cabinet members, and other powerful men and women. And they should be afraid of what big data and search can do with their info, as we learned in the Guardian’s piece, “Paradise Papers Leak Reveals Secrets of the World’s Elite Hidden Wealth.”

The story found a lot of fishy dealings with political donors and those in power, Queen Elizabeth having tax-free money in the Caymans and more. According to the story:

At the centre of the leak is Appleby, a law firm with outposts in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. In contrast to Mossack Fonseca, the discredited firm at the centre of last year’s Panama Papers investigation, Appleby prides itself on being a leading member of the “magic circle” of top-ranking offshore service providers.

 

Appleby says it has investigated all the allegations, and found “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients”, adding: “We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour.

Makes you wonder what would happen if some of the brightest minds in search and big data got ahold of this information? We suspect a lot of the financial knots this money ties to keep itself concealed would untangle. In an age of increasing transparency, we wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen.

Patrick Roland, November 24, 2017

Think Facebook Is Going to Fix Its Data Issues, Think Again

November 23, 2017

Facebook has been in hot water lately with its massive flubs with fake news. But the water is about to get scalding when you look at how fast and lose it plays with data. We learned some shocking things from a Fast Company story, “This Time, Facebook is Sharing Its Employees’ Data.”

According to the story:

Still, through a little-known arrangement, Facebook Inc. routinely shares the sensitive income and employment data of its U.S.-based employees with the Work Number database, owned by Equifax Workforce Solutions. Yes, that Equifax.

 

Every week, Facebook provides an electronic data feed of its employees’ hourly work and wage information to Equifax Workforce Solutions, formerly known as TALX, a St. Louis-based unit of Equifax, Inc. The Work Number database is managed separately from the Equifax credit bureau database that suffered a breach exposing the data of more than 143 million Americans, but it contains another cache of extensive personal information about Facebook’s employees, including their date of birth, social security number, job title, salary, pay raises or decreases, tenure, number of hours worked per week, wages by pay period, healthcare insurance coverage, dental care insurance coverage, and unemployment claim records.

This is pretty groundbreaking news. If the social media king can’t even keep its own employee data safe from the Equifaxes and hackers of the world, how safe are we supposed to think they keep our own data? For Facebook to earn back customer trust, it’ll have to jump through some pretty serious hoops. We’ll sit back and wait for the circus to arrive, in that case.

Patrick Roland, November 23, 2017

Fake Hitman Dark Web Site Rakes in the Bitcoin

November 16, 2017

No one can accuse these scammers of not going all in. Motherboard reports, “This Fake Hitman Site Is the Most Elaborate, Twisted Dark Web Scam Yet.” Reporter Joseph Cox describes the almost-certainly fake hitman-services website Besa Mafia. He writes:

Although many already suspected the site was a sham, Risk Based Security reported last week that supposedly hacked data shining more light on its behind-the-scenes dealings had been posted online. Included in that dump were alleged lists of ‘hitmen,’ photos of targets customers had uploaded, orders made on the site, and a large cache of messages purportedly between users and site admins.

Although the site is almost definitely a scam—and a seemingly profitable one at that—the sheer effort its creators have gone to puts Besa Mafia head and shoulders above just about anything else on the dark web.”

Yes, to protect its stream of bitcoin profit (apparently about $23,000 by the time of the data dump), the site admins literally threaten to burn the cars of those who give them negative reviews. Less dramatically, they also seem to be seeding the Dark Web with positive reviews of their own non-existent services

Another interesting point from the data dump—in a hedge, the website has been supplying information on would-be clients and contractors to law enforcement. The article reports:

In one message from the dump, the admin writes that the site not only cheats people out of their bitcoin; it also provides information to law enforcement about ordered hits. ‘This website is to scam criminals of their money. We report them for 2 reasons: to stop murder, this is moral and right; to avoid being charged with conspiracy to murder or association to murder, if we get caught,’ the admin writes.

They certainly thought this through. See the article for more details on this fake purveyor of violent services.

Cynthia Murrell, November 16, 2017

Ichidan Simplifies Dark Web Searches

November 10, 2017

Now there is an easier way to search the Dark Web, we learn from a write-up at Cylance, “Ichidan, a Search Engine for the Dark Web.” Cybersecurity pro and writer Kim Crawley informs us:

Ichidan is a search engine for looking up websites that are hosted through the Tor network, which may be the first time that’s been done at this scale. Websites on Tor usually have the .onion top level domain and you typically need a web browser with the Tor plugin or Tor’s own configured web browser in order to access them. … The search engine is less like Google and more like Shodan, in that it allows users to see technical information about .onion websites, including their connected network interfaces, such as TCP/IP ports.

Researchers at BleepingComputer explored the possibilities of this search engine. They were able to reproduce OnionScan’s findingss on the shrinkage of the Dark Web—the number of Dark Web services decreased from about 30,000 in April 2016 to about 4,400 not quite a year later (so by about 85%). Researchers found this alarming capability, too:

BleepingComputer was also able to use Ichidan to find a website which a lot of exposed ports, including OpenSSH, an email server,  a Telnet implementation, vsftpd, and an exposed Fritzbox router. That sort of information is very attractive to cyber attackers. Using Ichidan is a lot easier than command line pentesting tools, which require more specific technical know-how.

Uh-oh. Crawley predicts that use of Icihan will grow as folks on both sides of the law discover its possibilities. She advises anyone administering a .onion site to strengthen their cyber defenses posthaste, “if they want to survive.”

Cynthia Murrell, November 10, 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

HP Showed Russia Pentagons Cyberdefense Software

November 7, 2017

This is a short honk to point out a startling discovery—EtherealMind.com declares, “Reuters: HP Enterprise Let Russia Scrutinize Cyberdefense System Used by Pentagon.” Citing a recent report from Reuters, writer Greg Ferro pinpoints the problem with companies that make nothing but deals:

A sales company is one that sells products: any product, to anyone, anywhere for the right price. The technology giants have been buying products from various OEMs, bundling them up and reselling to customers for the last 20 years. HPE wanted to sell a security product, Arcsight, to a big customer who wanted to review the source code. Thats normal. But sales doesn’t care about company wide issues so they let the Russian government review the source of a product that US government uses to protect its network: ‘Hewlett Packard Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to review the inner workings of cyber defense software used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, according to Russian regulatory records and interviews with people with direct knowledge of the issue.’

Yikes. Ferro wonders whether evolutions in technology and business practices will soon render sales companies like HP, Cisco, and Dell obsolete. Perhaps.

Cynthia Murrell, November 7, 2017

Short Honk: Cyber Weapon Market

October 2, 2017

In November 2017, the focus of Beyond Search and HonkinNews will change. The free information services will increase their coverage of weaponized online. A preview of the type of information we will highlight appears in “Cyber Weapon Market to Reach US$521.87 Billion by the End of 2021.” A summary of the report appears in the article in OpenPR. The news item asserts:

According to TMR, the global cyber weapon market stood at US$390 bn in 2014. Rising at a CAGR of 4.4% CAGR, the market is expected to reach US$521.87 bn by the end of 2021. With a share of 73.8%, the defensive cyber weapon segment dominated the market by type in 2014. Regionally, North America accounted for the leading share of 36% in the global market in 2014.

If the estimate is accurate, there is money in things cyber. Watch for our new report E Discovery for Cyber Intelligence. Previews of the report will appear in our twice a month video program “HonkinNews” starting in six weeks.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2017

Decoding IBM Watson

August 14, 2017

IBM Watson is one of the leading programs in natural language processing. However, apart from understanding human interactions, Watson can do much more.

TechRepublic in an article titled IBM Watson: The Smart Person’s Guide says:

IBM Watson’s cognitive and analytical capabilities enable it to respond to human speech, process vast stores of data, and return answers to questions that companies could never solve before.

Named after founding father of IBM, Thomas Watson, the program is already part of several organizations. Multi-million dollar setup fee, however, is a stumbling block for most companies who want to utilize the potential of Watson.

Watson though operates in seven different verticals, it also been customized for specialties like cyber security. After impacting IT and related industries, Watson slowly is making inroads into industries like legal, customer service and human resources, which comfortably can be said are on the verge of disruption.

Vishal Ingole, August 14, 2017

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