Need a Low Cost College Degree? Dark Web U Is for You

October 11, 2016

The lawless domain just got murkier. Apart from illegal firearms, passports, drugs and hitmen, you now can procure a verifiable college degree or diploma on Dark Web.

The Next Web in an article Dark Web crooks are selling fake degrees and certifications for the price of a smartphone REPORTS:

Cyber criminals have created a digital marketplace where unscrupulous students can
purchase or gain information necessary to provide them with unfair and illegal
academic credentials and advantages.

The certificates for these academic credentials are near perfect. But what makes this cybercrime more dangerous is the fact that hackers also manipulate the institution records to make the fake credential genuine.

The article ADDS:

A flourishing market for hackers who would target universities in order to change
grades and remove academic admonishments

This means that under and completely non-performing students undertaking an educational course need not worry about low grades or absenteeism. Just pay the hackers and you have a perfectly legal degree that you can show the world. And the cost of all these? Just $500-$1000.

What makes this particular aspect of Dark Web horrifying interesting is the fact that anyone who procures such illegitimate degree can enter mainstream job market with perfect ease and no student debt.

Vishal Ingole, October 11, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges

August 29, 2016

Think Amazon is the only outfit which understands the concept of strategic pricing, bundling, and free services? Google has decided to emulate such notable marketing outfits as ReedElsevier’s LexisNexis and offering colleges a real deal for use of for-fee online services. Who would have thought that Google would emulate LexisNexis’ law school strategy?

I read “Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges, Plays Catch Up to Amazon, Microsoft.” I reported that a mid tier consulting firm anointed Microsoft as the Big Dog in cloud computing. Even in Harrod’s Creek, folks know that Amazon is at least in the cloud computing kennel with the Softies.

According to the write up:

Google in June announced an education grant offering free credits for its cloud platform, with no credit card required, unlimited access to its suite of tools and training resources. Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services both offer education programs, and now Google Cloud wants a part in shaping future computer scientists — and probably whatever they come up with using the tool.

The write up points out:

Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services offer an education partnership in free trials or discounted pricing. For the time being, Microsoft Azure’s education program is not taking new applications and “oversubscribed,” the website reads. Amazon Web Services has an online application for its education program for teachers and students to get accounts, and Google is accepting applications from faculty members.

How does one avail oneself of these free services. Sign up for a class and hope that your course “Big Band Music from the 1940’s” qualifies you for free cloud stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2016

IBM Takes Its University Initiative to Scotland

August 22, 2016

The article on Inside HPC titled IBM Partners with University of Aberdeen to Drive Cognitive Computing illustrates the circumstances of the first Scottish university partnership with IBM. IBM has been collecting goodwill and potential data analysts from US colleges lately, so it is no surprise that this endeavor has been sent abroad. The article details,

In June 2015, the UK government unveiled plans for a £313 million partnership with IBM to boost big data research in the UK. Following an initial investment of £113 million to expand the Hartree Centre at Daresbury over the next five years, IBM also agreed to provide further support to the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million. This included 24 IBM researchers, stationed at the Hartree Centre, to work side-by-side with existing researchers.

The University of Aberdeen will begin by administering the IBM cognitive computing technology in computer science courses in addition to ongoing academic research with Watson. In a sense, the students exposed to Watson in college are being trained to seek jobs in the industry, for IBM. They will have insider experience and goodwill toward the company. It really is one of the largest nets cast for prospective job applicants in industry history.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 22, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph     There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Need a Mentor? See Here

August 3, 2016

Does your business need a mentor? How about any students or budding entrepreneurs you know? Such a guide can be invaluable, especially to a small business, but Google and Bing may not be the best places to pose that query. Business magazine Inc. has rounded up “Ten Top Platforms for Finding a Mentor in 22016.” Writer John Boitnott introduces the list:

“Many startup founders have learned that by working with a mentor, they enjoy a collaboration through which they can learn and grow. They usually also gain access to a much more experienced entrepreneur’s extensive network, which can help as they seek funding or gather resources. For students, mentors can provide the insight they need as they make decisions about their future. One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs and students have, however, is finding a good mentor when their professional networks are limited. Fortunately, technology has come up with an answer. Here are nine great platforms helping to connect mentors and mentees in 2016.”

Boitnott  lists the following mentor-discovery resources: Music platform Envelop offers workshops for performers and listeners. Mogul focuses on helping female entrepreneurs via a 27/7 advice hotline. From within classrooms, iCouldBe connects high-school students to potential mentors. Also for high-school students, iMentor is specifically active in low-income communities. MentorNet works to support STEM students through a community of dedicated mentors, while the free, U.K.-based Horse’s Mouth supports a loosely-organized platform where participants share ideas. Also free, Find a Mentor matches potential protégés with adult mentors. SCORE supplies tools like workshops and document templates for small businesses. Cloud-based MentorCity serves entrepreneurs, students, and nonprofits, and it maintains a free online registry where mentors can match their skill sets to the needs of inquiring minds.

Who knew so much professional guidance was out there, made possible by today’s technology, and much of it for free?  For more information on each entry, see the full article.



Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Summize, an App with the Technology to Make Our Children Learn. But Is They?

August 2, 2016

The article on TheNextWeb titled Teenagers Have Built a Summary App that Could Help Students Ace Exams might be difficult to read over the sound of a million teachers weeping into their syllabi. It’s no shock that students hate to read, and there is even some cause for alarm over the sheer amount of reading that some graduate students are expected to complete. But for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and even undergrads in college, there is a growing concern about the average reading comprehension level. This new app can only make matters worse by removing a student’s incentive to absorb the material and decide for themselves what is important. The article describes the app,

“Available for iOSSummize is an intelligent summary generator that will automatically recap the contents of any textbook page (or news article) you take a photo of with your smartphone. The app also supports concept, keyword and bias analysis, which breaks down the summaries to make them more accessible. With this feature, users can easily isolate concepts and keywords from the rest of the text to focus precisely on the material that matters the most to them.”

There is nothing wrong with any of this if it is really about time management instead of supporting illiteracy and lazy study habits. This app is the result of the efforts of an 18-year-old Rami Ghanem using optical character recognition software. A product of the era of No Child Left Behind, not coincidentally, exposed to years of teaching to the test and forgetting the lesson, of rote memorization in favor of analysis and understanding. Yes, with Summize, little Jimmy might ace the test. But shouldn’t an education be more than talking point mcnuggets?



Chelsea Kerwin, August 2, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Scholarship Evolving with the Web

July 21, 2016

Is big data good only for the hard sciences, or does it have something to offer the humanities? Writer Marcus A Banks thinks it does, as he states in, “Challenging the Print Paradigm: Web-Powered Scholarship is Set to Advance the Creation and Distribution of Research” at the Impact Blog (a project of the London School of Economics and Political Science). Banks suggests that data analysis can lead to a better understanding of, for example, how the perception of certain historical events have evolved over time. He goes on to explain what the literary community has to gain by moving forward:

“Despite my confidence in data mining I worry that our containers for scholarly works — ‘papers,’ ‘monographs’ — are anachronistic. When scholarship could only be expressed in print, on paper, these vessels made perfect sense. Today we have PDFs, which are surely a more efficient distribution mechanism than mailing print volumes to be placed onto library shelves. Nonetheless, PDFs reinforce the idea that scholarship must be portioned into discrete units, when the truth is that the best scholarship is sprawling, unbounded and mutable. The Web is flexible enough to facilitate this, in a way that print could never do. A print piece is necessarily reductive, while Web-oriented scholarship can be as capacious as required.

“To date, though, we still think in terms of print antecedents. This is not surprising, given that the Web is the merest of infants in historical terms. So we find that most advocacy surrounding open access publishing has been about increasing access to the PDFs of research articles. I am in complete support of this cause, especially when these articles report upon publicly or philanthropically funded research. Nonetheless, this feels narrow, quite modest. Text mining across a large swath of PDFs would yield useful insights, for sure. But this is not ‘data mining’ in the maximal sense of analyzing every aspect of a scholarly endeavor, even those that cannot easily be captured in print.”

Banks does note that a cautious approach to such fundamental change is warranted, citing the development of the data paper in 2011 as an example.  He also mentions Scholarly HTML, a project that hopes to evolve into a formal W3C standard, and the Content Mine, a project aiming to glean 100 million facts from published research papers. The sky is the limit, Banks indicates, when it comes to Web-powered scholarship.


Cynthia Murrell, July 21, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link:


The Machine Learning Textbook

July 19, 2016

Deep learning is another bit of technical jargon floating around and it is tied to artificial intelligence.  We know that artificial intelligence is the process of replicating human thought patterns and actions through computer software.  Deep learning is…well, what specifically?  To get a primer on what deep learning is as well as it’s many applications check out “Deep Learning: An MIT Press Book” by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville.

Here is how the Deeping Learning book is described:

“The Deep Learning textbook is a resource intended to help students and practitioners enter the field of machine learning in general and deep learning in particular. The online version of the book is now complete and will remain available online for free. The print version will be available for sale soon.”

This is a fantastic resource to take advantage of.  MIT is one of the leading technical schools in the nation, if not the world, and the information that is sponsored by them is more than guaranteed to round out your deep learning foundation.  Also it is free, which cannot be beaten.  Here is how the book explains the goal of machine learning:

“This book is about a solution to these more intuitive problems.  This solution is to allow computers to learn from experience and understand the world in terms of a hierarchy of concepts, with each concept de?ned in terms of its relation to simpler concepts. By gathering knowledge from experience, this approach avoids the need for human operators to formally specify all of the knowledge that the computer needs.”

If you have time take a detour and read the book, or if you want to save time there is always Wikipedia.


Whitney Grace, July 19, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link:


Banks as New Dark Web Educators

June 15, 2016

The Dark Web and deep web can often get misidentified and confused by readers. To take a step back, Trans Union’s blog offers a brief read called, The Dark Web & Your Data: Facts to Know, that helpfully addresses some basic information on these topics. First, a definition of the Dark Web: sites accessible only when a physical computer’s unique IP address is hidden on multiple levels. Specific software is needed to access the Dark Web because that software is needed to encrypt the machine’s IP address. The article continues,

“Certain software programs allow the IP address to be hidden, which provides anonymity as to where, or by whom, the site is hosted. The anonymous nature of the dark web makes it a haven for online criminals selling illegal products and services, as well as a marketplace for stolen data. The dark web is often confused with the “deep web,” the latter of which makes up about 90 percent of the Internet. The deep web consists of sites not reachable by standard search engines, including encrypted networks or password-protected sites like email accounts. The dark web also exists within this space and accounts for approximately less than 1 percent of web content.”

For those not reading news about the Dark Web every day, this seems like a fine piece to help brush up on cybersecurity concerns relevant at the individual user level. Trans Union is on the pulse in educating their clients as banks are an evergreen target for cybercrime and security breaches. It seems the message from this posting to clients can be interpreted as one of the “good luck” variety.


Megan Feil, June 15, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Snapshot of American Innovation Today

May 23, 2016

Who exactly are today’s innovators? The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) performed a survey to find out, and shares a summary of their results in, “The Demographics of Innovation in the United States.” The write-up sets the context before getting into the findings:

“Behind every technological innovation is an individual or a team of individuals responsible for the hard scientific or engineering work. And behind each of them is an education and a set of experiences that impart the requisite knowledge, expertise, and opportunity. These scientists and engineers drive technological progress by creating innovative new products and services that raise incomes and improve quality of life for everyone….

“This study surveys people who are responsible for some of the most important innovations in America. These include people who have won national awards for their inventions, people who have filed for international, triadic patents for their innovative ideas in three technology areas (information technology, life sciences, and materials sciences), and innovators who have filed triadic patents for large advanced-technology companies. In total, 6,418 innovators were contacted for this report, and 923 provided viable responses. This diverse, yet focused sampling approach enables a broad, yet nuanced examination of individuals driving innovation in the United States.”

See the summary for results, including a helpful graphic. Here are some highlights: Unsurprisingly to anyone who has been paying attention, women and U.S.-born minorities are woefully underrepresented. Many of those surveyed are immigrants. The majority of survey-takers have at least one advanced degree (many from MIT), and nearly all majored in STEM subject as undergrads. Large companies contribute more than small businesses do while innovations are clustered in California, the Northeast, and close to sources of public research funding. And take heart, anyone over 30, for despite the popular image of 20-somethings reinventing the world, the median age of those surveyed is 47.

The piece concludes with some recommendations: We should encourage both women and minorities to study STEM subjects from elementary school on, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods. We should also lend more support to talented immigrants who wish to stay in the U.S. after they attend college here. The researchers conclude that, with targeted action from the government on education, funding, technology transfer, and immigration policy, our nation can tap into a much wider pool of innovation.



Cynthia Murrell, May 23, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


The Dark Web Cuts the Violence

March 23, 2016

Drug dealing is a shady business that takes place in a nefarious underground and runs discreetly under our noses.  Along with drug dealing comes a variety of violence involving guns, criminal offenses, and often death.   Countless people have lost their lives related to drug dealing, and that does not even include the people who overdosed.  Would you believe that the drug dealing violence is being curbed by the Dark Web?  TechDirt reveals, “How The Dark Net Is Making Drug Purchases Safer By Eliminating Associated Violence And Improving Quality.”

The Dark Web is the Internet’s underbelly, where stolen information and sex trafficking victims are sold, terrorists mingle, and, of course, drugs are peddled.  Who would have thought that the Dark Web would actually provide a beneficial service to society by sending drug dealers online and taking them off the streets?  With the drug dealers goes the associated violence.  There also appears to be a system of checks and balances, where drug users can leave feedback a la eBay.  It pushes the drug quality up as well, but is that a good or bad thing?

“The new report comes from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is funded by the European Union, and, as usual, is accompanied by an official comment from the relevant EU commissioner. Unfortunately, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, trots out the usual unthinking reaction to drug sales that has made the long-running and totally futile “war on drugs” one of the most destructive and counterproductive policies ever devised:

‘We should stop the abuse of the Internet by those wanting to turn it into a drug market. Technology is offering fresh opportunities for law enforcement to tackle online drug markets and reduce threats to public health. Let us seize these opportunities to attack the problem head-on and reduce drug supply online.’”

The war on drugs is a futile fight, but illegal substances do not benefit anyone.  While it is a boon to society for the crime to be taken off the streets, take into consideration that the Dark Web is also a breeding ground for crimes arguably worse than drug dealing.


Whitney Grace, March 23, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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