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Recent Developments in Deep Learning Architecture from AlexNet to ResNet

September 27, 2016

The article on GitHub titled The 9 Deep Learning Papers You Need To Know About (Understanding CNNs Part 3) is not an article about the global media giant but rather the advancements in computer vision and convolutional neural networks (CNNs). The article frames its discussion around the ImageNet Large-Scale Recognition Challenges (ILSVRC), what it terms the “annual Olympics of computer vision…where teams compete to see who has the best computer vision model for tasks such as classification, localization, detection and more.” The article explains that the 2012 winners and their network (AlexNet) revolutionized the field.

This was the first time a model performed so well on a historically difficult ImageNet dataset. Utilizing techniques that are still used today, such as data augmentation and dropout, this paper really illustrated the benefits of CNNs and backed them up with record breaking performance in the competition.

In 2013, CNNs flooded in, and ZF Net was the winner with an error rate of 11.2% (down from AlexNet’s 15.4%.) Prior to AlexNet though, the lowest error rate was 26.2%. The article also discusses other progress in general network architecture including VGG Net, which emphasized depth and simplicity of CNNs necessary to hierarchical data representation, and GoogLeNet, which tossed the deep and simple rule out of the window and paved the way for future creative structuring using the Inception model.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 27, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

The Design of Our Future

September 26, 2016

An article at Co.Exist suggests we all pause to consider what we want our world to look like, in “We Need To Spend More Time Questioning Our Technology-Driven Future.” Along with the boundless potential of today’s fast-evolving technology come consequences, many of them unforeseen. Writer Ben Schiller cites futurist Gerd Leonhard, author of the book, Technology vs. Humanity. Far from a modern Luddite, Leonhard is a consultant for Google and a daily advocate for the wonders of advancing technology. His thorough understanding of the topic allows him to see potential pitfalls, as well.

The shape of technology today calls for society to update the way it approaches doing business, says Leonhard, and move past the “industrial-age paradigm of profit and growth at all costs, or some outmoded technological imperative that may have served us well in the 1980s.” He also points to the environmental problems created by fossil fuel companies as an example—if we aren’t careful, the AI and genetic engineering fields could develop their own “externalities,” or problems others will pay for, one way or another. Can we even imagine all the ways either of those fields could potentially cause harm?

Schiller writes of Leonhard:

The futurist outlines a philosophy he calls ‘exponential humanism’—the human equivalent of exponential technology. As a species we’re not developing the necessary skills and ethical frameworks to deal with technology that’s moving faster than we are, he says. We may be able to merge biology and technology, augment our minds and bodies, become superhuman, end disease, and even prolong life. But we’re yet to ask ourselves whether, for example, extending life is actually a good thing (as a society—there will always be individuals who for some reason want to live to 150). And, more to the point, will these incredible advances be available to everyone, or just a few people? To Leonhard, our current technological determinism—the view that technology itself is the purpose—is as dangerous as Luddism was 200-odd years ago. Without moral debate, we’re trusting in technology for its own sake, not because it actually improves our lives.

The write-up gives a few ideas on how to proactively shape our future. For example, Facebook could take responsibility for the content on its site instead of resting on its algorithm. Leonhard also suggests companies that replace workers with machines pay a tax  that would help soften the blow to society, perhaps even with a minimum guaranteed income. Far-fetched? Perhaps. But in a future with fewer jobs and more freely-available products, a market-driven economy might just be doomed. If that is the case, what would we prefer to see emerge in its place?

Cynthia Murrell, September 26, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Geoparsing Is More Magical Than We Think

September 23, 2016

The term geoparsing sounds like it has something to do with cartography, but according to Directions Magazine in the article, “Geoparsing Maps The Future Of Text Documents” it is more like an alchemical spell.  Geoparsing refers to when text documents into a geospatial database that allows entity extraction and disambiguation (aka is geotagging).  It relies on natural language processing and is generally used to analyze text document collections.

While it might appear that geoparsing is magical, it actually is a complex technological process that relies on data to put information into context.  Places often have the same name, so disambiguation would have difficulty inputting the correct tags.  Geoparsing has important applications, such as:

Military users will not only want to exploit automatically geoparsed documents, they will require a capability to efficiently edit the results to certify that the place names in the document are all geotagged, and geotagged correctly. Just as cartographers review and validate map content prior to publication, geospatial analysts will review and validate geotagged text documents. Place checking, like spell checking, allows users to quickly and easily edit the content of their documents.

The article acts as a promo piece for the GeoDoc application, however, it does delve into the details into how geoparsing works and its benefits.

Whitney Grace, September 23, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

For the Paranoid at Heart: New Privacy Concerns from Columbia University and Google

September 23, 2016

The article on PhysOrg titled Location Data on Two Apps Enough to Identify Someone, Says Study illustrates the inadequacy of deleting names and personal details from big data sets. Location metadata undermines the anonymity of this data. Researchers at Columbia University and Google teamed up to establish that individuals can easily be identified simply by comparing their movements across two data sets. The article states,

What this really shows is that simply removing identifying information from large-scale data sets is not sufficient,” said Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab who was not involved in the study. “We need to move to a model of privacy-through-security. Instead of anonymizing data and making it public, there should be technical controls over who gets access to the data, how it is used, and for what purpose.

Just by bringing your phone with you, (and who doesn’t?) you create vast amounts of location metadata about yourself, often without your knowledge. As more and more apps require you to offer your location, it becomes less difficult for various companies to access the data. If you are interested in exploring how easy it is to figure out your identity based on your social media usage, visit You Are Where You Go.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 23, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

 

Paris Police Face Data Problem in Google Tax Evasion Investigation

September 20, 2016

Google has been under scrutiny for suspected tax evasion. Yahoo published a brief piece updating us on the investigation: Data analysis from Paris raid on Google will take months, possibly years: prosecutor. French police raided Google’s office in Paris, taking the tax avoidance inquiry to a new level. This comes after much pressure from across Europe to prevent multinational corporations from using their worldwide presence to pay less taxes. Financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette is quoted stating,

We have collected a lot of computer data, Houlette said in an interview with Europe 1 radio, TV channel iTele and newspaper Le Monde, adding that 96 people took part in the raid. “We need to analyze (the data) … (it will take) months, I hope that it won’t be several years, but we are very limited in resources’. Google, which said it is complying fully with French law, is under pressure across Europe from public opinion and governments angry at the way multinationals exploit their global presence to minimize tax liabilities.

While big data search technology exists, government and law enforcement agencies may not have the funds to utilize such technologies. Or, perhaps the knowledge of open source solutions is not apparent. If nothing else, these comments made by Houlette go to show the need for increased focus on upgrading systems for real-time and rapid data analysis.

Megan Feil, September 20, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

 

Hundreds of Thousands of Patient Records Offered up on the Dark Web

September 19, 2016

Some of us suspected this was coming, despite many assurances to the contrary. Softpedia informs us, “Hacker Selling 651,894 Patient Records on the Dark Web.” Haughtily going by the handle TheDarkOverlord, the hacker responsible is looking to make over seven hundred grand off the data. Reporter Catalin Cimpanu writes:

The hacker is selling the data on The Real Deal marketplace, and he [or she] says he breached these companies using an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) bug. TheDarkOverlord has told DeepDotWeb, who first spotted the ads, that it’s ‘a very particular bug. The conditions have to be very precise for it.’ He has also provided a series of screenshots as proof, showing him accessing the hacked systems via a Remote Desktop connection. The hacker also recalls that, before putting the data on the Dark Web, he contacted the companies and informed them of their problems, offering to disclose the bug for a price, in a tactic known as bug poaching. Obviously, all three companies declined, so here we are, with their data available on the Dark Web. TheDarkOverlord says that all databases are a one-time sale, meaning only one buyer can get their hands on the stolen data.

The three databases contain information on patients in Farmington, Missouri; Atlanta, Georgia; and the Central and Midwest areas of the U.S. TheDarkOverloard asserts that the data includes details like contact information, Social Security numbers, and personal facts like gender and race. The collection does not, apparently, include medical history. I suppose that is a relief—for now.

Cynthia Murrell, September 19, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

 

UltraSearch Releases Version 2.1

September 16, 2016

Now, after more than a year, we have a new version of a popular alternative to Windows’ built-in Desktop Search, UltraSearch. We learn the details from the write-up at gHacks.net, “UltraSearch 2.1 with File Content Search.” The application works by accessing a system’s master file table, so results appear almost instantly. Writer Martin Brinkmann informs us:

The list of changes on the official UltraSearch project website is long. While some of them may affect only some users, others are useful or at least nice to have for all. Jam Software, the company responsible for the search program, have removed the advertising banner from the program. There is, however, a new ‘advanced search’ menu option which links to the company’s TreeSize program in various ways. TreeSize is available as a free and commercial program.

As far as functional changes are concerned, these are noteworthy:

  1. File results are displayed faster than before.
  2. New File Type selection menu to pick file groups or types quickly (video files, Office files).
  3. Command line parameters are supported by the program now.
  4. The drive list was moved from the bottom to the top.
  5. The export dialog displays a progress dialog now.
  6. You may deactivate the automatic updating of the MFT index under Options > Include file system changes.

Brinkmann emphasizes that these are but a few of the changes in this extensive update, and suggests Windows users who have rejected it before give it another chance. We remind you, though, that UltraSearch is not your only Windows Desktop Search alternative. Some others include FileSearchEX, Gaviri Pocket SearchLaunchy. Locate32, Search EverythingSnowbird, Sow Soft’s Effective File Search, and Super Finder XT.

Launched back in 1997, Jam Software is based in Trier, Germany.  The company specializes in software tools to address common problems faced by users, developers, and organizations., like TreeSize, SpaceObserver, and, of course, UltraSearch. Though free versions of each are available, the company makes its money by enticing users to invest in the enhanced, professional versions.

Cynthia Murrell, September 16, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Automated Tools for Dark Web Data Tracking

September 15, 2016

Naturally, tracking stolen data through the dark web is a challenge. Investigators have traditionally infiltrated chatrooms and forums in the effort—a tedious procedure with no guarantee of success. Now, automated tools may give organizations a leg up, we learn from the article, “Tools to Track Stolen Data Through the Dark Web” at GCN. Reporter Mark Pomerleau informs us:
“The Department of Veterans Affairs last month said it was seeking software that can search the dark web for exploited VA data improperly outside its control, distinguish between VA data and other data and create a ‘one-way encrypted hash’ of VA data to ensure that other parties cannot ascertain or use it. The software would also use VA’s encrypted data hash to search the dark web for VA content. We learned:

Some companies, such as Terbium Labs, have developed similar hashing technologies.  ‘It’s not code that’s embedded in the data so much as a computation done on the data itself,’ Danny Rogers, a Terbium Labs co-founder, told Defense One regarding its cryptographic hashing.  This capability essentially enables a company or agency to recognize its stolen data if discovered. Bitglass, a cloud access security broker, uses watermarking technology to track stolen data.  A digital watermark or encryption algorithm is applied to files such as spreadsheets, Word documents or PDFs that requires users to go through an authentication process in order to access it.

We’re told such watermarks can even thwart hackers trying to copy-and-paste into a new document, and that Bitglass tests its tech by leaking and following false data onto the dark web. Pomerleau notes that regulations can make it difficult to implement commercial solutions within a government agency. However, government personnel are very motivated to find solutions that will allow them to work securely outside the office.

The article wraps up with a mention of DARPA’s  Memex search engine, designed to plumb the even-more-extensive deep web. Law enforcement is currently using Memex, but the software is expected to eventually make it to the commercial market.

Cynthia Murrell, September 15, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Law Enforcement Utilizes New and Traditional Methods for Dark Web Matters

September 15, 2016

While the Dark Web may be thought of as a home to drug dealers, several individuals have been apprehended by law enforcement. Edinburgh News published a report: FBI Helps Catch Edinburgh Man Selling Drugs on ‘Dark Web’. David Trail was convicted for creating a similar website to eBay, but on the Dark Web, called Topix2. Stolen credit card information from his former employer, Scotweb were found in the search of his home. The article states,

Detective Inspector Brian Stuart, of the Cybercrime Unit, said: ‘Following information from colleagues in FBI, Germany’s West Hessen Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency, Police Scotland identified David Trail and his operation and ownership of a hidden website designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. His targeting of a previous employer, overcoming their security, almost had a devastating effect on the company’s ability to remain in business.

As this piece notes, law enforcement used a combination of new and traditional policing techniques to apprehend Trail. Another common practice we have been seeing is the cooperation of intelligence authorities across borders — and across levels of law enforcement. In the Internet age this is a necessity, and even more so when the nature of the Dark Web is taken into account.

Megan Feil, September 15, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Is the UK Tolling the App Death Knell for Government Services?

September 14, 2016

The article titled Why Britain Banned Mobile Apps on GovInsider introduces Ben Terret and the innovative UK Government Digital Service program, the first of its kind in the world. Terret spearheaded a strict “no apps” policy in favor of websites while emphasizing efficiency, clarity, cost savings, and relevance of the information. This all adds up to creating a simple and streamlined experience for UK citizens. Terret explains why this approach is superior in an app-crazed world,

Apps are “very expensive to produce, and they’re very very expensive to maintain because you have to keep updating them when there are software changes,” Terrett says. “I would say if you times that by 300, you’re suddenly talking about a huge team people and a ton of money to maintain that ecosystem”…Sites can adapt to any screen size, work on all devices, and are open to everyone to use regardless of their device.

So what do these websites look like? They are clean, simple, and operated under the assumption that “Google is the homepage.” Terrett measures the success of a given digital services by monitoring how many users complete a transaction, or how many continued to search for additional information, documents, or services. Terrett’s argument against apps is a convincing one, especially based on the issue of cutting expenses. Whether this argument translates into the private sector is another question.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 14, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

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