A $600 Desktop Quantum Computer That Breaks Encryption. Wow or Woof?

February 17, 2020

DarkCyber spotted a remarkable claim. A fellow named Dan Gleason, created a portable quantum computer. The idea is that this computing system can hack passwords and maybe cyber security protocols.

The Assertion

The information appeared in an article in BetaNews. “The $600 Quantum Computer That Could Spell the End for Conventional Encryption” reports as actual factual:

Using easily available parts costing just $600…, QUBY runs recently open-sourced quantum algorithms capable of executing within a quantum emulator that can perform cryptographic cracking algorithms. Calculations that would have otherwise taken years on conventional computers are now performed in seconds on QUBY.

Sounds good, almost like a folding mobile phone from Motorola or Samsung, the marketing collateral from an enterprise search vendor like Coveo or LucidWorks, or the breathless assurances of Weaviate. (Dare I say Google or Watson?)

The Team


Greg Morrell, Founder and President, Active Cypher. Formerly president of Amtec Technologies, a management and capital placement limited liability company, and before that a vice president of development at LNR Property Corp. More information about the company appears in an ETS article.


“Dan Gleason is the chief architect and product developer of Active Cyper’s file level security solution. His special skills are in bring elegant solutions to complex problems.” Source: Active Cypher DarkCyber believes that a $600 portable quantum computer is a complex challenge but with many, many problems to solve. Mr. Gleason, according to Active Cypher’s Web site, possesses “special expertise.” This is “in all Microsoft products and programs.” The “all” is interesting.


Caspian Tavallali is the chief operating officer for Active Cypher. He worked in the office of the chairman at the Parman Capital Group. Previously he worked on an MBA at IE Business School in Madrid.

quinn 2

Mike Quinn, Chief Strategy Officer, Active Cypher. Mr. Quinn worked at Citadel Consulting and previously at Microsoft as “Partner” and General Manager of the Enterprise Cyber Security Group. He also worked at Cisco Systems in “services”.

The teams does not appear deeply steeped in the technology of quantum computing in use at Google, IBM, and other firms able to afford the research, demonstrations, and systems.

What’s the business model for the open source infused portable quantum computer? Here’s the answer according to Mr. Gleason:

In response to the threat, Active Cypher has developed advanced dynamic cyphering encryption that is built to be quantum resilient. Gleason explains that, “Our encryption is not based on solving a mathematical problem. It’s based on a very large, random key which is used in creating the obfuscated cyphertext, without any key information within the cyphertext, and is thus impossible to be derived through prime factorization — traditional brute force attempts which use the cyphertext to extract key information from patterns derived from the key material.”

Ah, ha. License the company’s dynamic ciphering encryption!

Additional Information

More detail about the company’s encryption innovations appears in “Maintaining a Zero-Trust Security Model.” That document references quantum in the context of “quantum resilient.” The idea is that the firm’s approach will not be breakable by quantum computer technology directed at decryption or similar functions. There’s no reference to a portable $600 quantum computer. DarkCyber finds this interesting since the white paper was updated in February 2020. (Amazon has a number of patents related to its zero trust systems and methods. Some of these are reviewed in our Amazon Blockchain white paper. You can request a free summary at this link.)

Who is buying into this concept? The write up suggests that Microsoft is curious and attendees at the RSA Conference (if it is held) will be able to check out the device. The algorithms will take more time to analyze unless one has access to Google’s or IBM’s quantum systems.


A few observations seem to be in order:

  • What comprises a quantum computer? Hand crafted hardware from IBM or systems from DWave?
  • Are there programming languages for the portable quantum computer?
  • How are the “instabilities” associated with quantum demonstrations resolved?
  • How was Mr. Gleason able to create a “$600” quantum computer when the cost of Google’s DWave gizmos such down money in seven figure gulps.
Net Net

If true the $600 quantum computer is “real,” Mr. Gleason will be the Marc Zukerberg – Sergey Brin – Steve Jobs of quantum computing. If not true, Mr. Gleason will be well positioned to work as a social media PR expert.

For now, DarkCyber will sit on the quantum fence. Why? The DWave quantum computer costs about $15 million. DarkCyber is not sure if this includes the cost of staff, refrigeration equipment, and maintenance.

But $600. Almost sci-fi made real in the actual factual world.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2020

Live at Five: Queue the Avatar! Slash Costs!

February 12, 2020

Thomson Reuters has been looking for a revenue hockey stick since Michael Brown and Gene Garlan departed. The company has not been a home run in the innovation department. Palantir Technology did not provide the zoom zoom some stakeholders wanted. The Thomson “labs”. Sorry, no TikTok from those hard working Thomson Reuter wizards.

The fix, however, may be deep fakes, automated news, and some AI sizzle. Reddit, a social information service, posted a link to “Reuters Built a Prototype for Automated News Videos Using Deepfakes Tech.” The write up explains:

Designed as a proof-of-concept, the system takes real-time scoring data from football matches and generates news reports complete with photographs and a script. Synthesia and Reuters then use a neural network similar to Deepfakes and prerecorded footage of a real news anchor to turn the script into a “live” video of the news anchor giving up-to-the-second scoring updates.

The technology comes from Synthesia, founded in 2017. (One of the company’s investors is the Sharktank and video savant Mark Cuban.) The company describes itself as a “next gen content creation” outfit.

You can try the service by navigating to this link. I said I was Nancy. And this fake humanoid delivered a short summary to me:


The company’s Web site says:

Go beyond the regular edit suite … forge more meaningful relationships with your global audiences using Synthesia’ powerful content tools.

Is this the winner Thomson Reuters has been seeking for a decade or so? If the company applies its 10-10-20 formula, that’s possible, just unlikely. If today’s Thomson Reuters can manage some of the Lord Thomson of Fleet magic, the professional publishing and news company could disrupt how news can be generated and streamed at bargain basement rates. Hasta la vista talking heads.

An avatar with real AI will present the news: Objective, content rich, and without the hassles of humans, vacations, benefits, and dealing with wimpy humanoid issues like “my manager is not treating me fairly.”

Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2020

Detroit Sure Understands Hollow Out and May Have Google Insight

February 7, 2020

Detroit. Interesting place. DarkCyber read “Google’s Cash Cow Search Business Is Being ‘Hollowed Out’.” If there is one city whose residents and businesses understand the concept, it is probably Detroit.

DarkCyber noted this statement in the write up:

“This hollowing out of search is real,” Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a note to investors after the results. To maintain growth at even this lower level, Google will have to generate more revenue from its Maps service, image search and shopping search ads, he said.

Why is this an issue? The article states:

Google search is one of the most profitable businesses ever created, helping the company amass a cash hoard of more than $100 billion. It took Google from a garage in Silicon Valley to a trillion-dollar giant that dominates digital advertising, online video, maps and email.

The report points out:

Google can only stuff so many ads onto its website without lowering the quality of search results. On mobile phones, ads often fill the entire screen, forcing users to scroll down if they want to see free listings.

What’s the problem? Mobile search is booming. Yep, but peak mobile may be approaching.

Good points and from Detroit.

Stephen E Arnold, February 7, 2020

Google: Changes Coming and Steadily

February 4, 2020

Google’s financial results suggest that the company’s advertising business is facing some headwinds. “Google Lifts Veil on YouTube, Cloud Units” states:

Meanwhile, the company reported disappointing results in its core online advertising operations.

The “meanwhile” is a “nice” way of suggesting that Google’s good news about YouTube and its baby cloud endeavors were supposed to distract from that ominous line:

disappointing results in its core online advertising operations.

And the word “operations.” That is a pregnant choice. The problem perhaps is deeper than softness in companies’ ad spending, more problematic than Amazon’s and Facebook’s expanding advertising initiatives, and more troublesome than the withdrawal of the Silicon Valley sultans, Messrs. Brin and Page.

What is caused the spangled juggernaut to wobble in its “core business”?

DarkCyber’s early morning thoughts include:

  1. Google’s rush to mobile created an ad inventory gap; that is, more ads for a small space. The fixes have not been satisfying to users or to consumers.
  2. Trading off relevance for broader results so more ads can be shown in relation to content which is not germane to what the user wanted information about. Even the most jaded consumer of Neverthink content, sort of wants ads relevant to their interests when using Google.
  3. Overhead is tough to control. Yep, that means productivity from human resources and efficiency in use of capital have to take precedent over moon shots, solving death, and dealing with litigation related to interesting staff issues.
  4. The Steve Ballmer “one trick pony” assessment of Google is proving accurate. Billions spent and the Google sells ads.

Net net: Worth monitoring the company’s performance and actions whether one has shares, works there, or is just mildly interested in what has defined “search” for billions of people.

Can these people find relevant information online? Nope. That’s probably part of the problem. Can cleverness address the issue? Sure but at what cost. Can Jeff Dean save the overdone cookies? Maybe.

Stephen E Arnold, February 4, 2020

Ivy Covered Irony: MIT Reports about Harvard

January 30, 2020

DarkCyber has mentioned MIT’s enthusiastic but mostly covert embrace of the late Mr. Epstein’s donations. One of the research team noted this article in the MIT Technology Review: “A Harvard Super Chemist Has Been Arrested Over Lying about Secret China Payments.” The main point of the Epstein-supported MIT Technology Review struck the DarkCyber team as:

According to a charging document written by an FBI agent, Lieber received more than $15 million in US grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, among other sources. Researchers are supposed to disclose if they also have foreign funding. But Lieber didn’t do so and then, when confronted, gave “false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” to the DOD and to the NIH as recently as this month.

Yep, the Epstein-interacting institution is reporting that Harvard engaged in illegal activities.

Several observations:

  • The write up may have more to do with making sure readers of MIT Technology Review know that Harvard University has a bad actor on the payroll
  • Another prestigious institution struggles to provide a reasonable example of ethical behavior
  • An interesting philosophical question can be discussed in a law school class at Suffolk University: “Which is more desirable — Taking money from an accursed human trafficker or selling information to a foreign power?”

DarkCyber is disappointed that two institutions of higher education are teaching by example, just not positive example.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2020

China Software Numbers: Suggestive If Accurate

January 28, 2020

DarkCyber spotted “China’s Leading Software Companies Report Rising Income.” The write up included some interesting, but difficult to verify, numbers:

  1. The companies in the sample generated US$118.5 billion of revenue from software business in 2018, 6.5 percent up from that of the top 100 companies a year ago.
  2. More than 30 companies saw revenue surging by more than 20 percent
  3. 14 of the companies in the sample had revenues above US$1.4 billion
  4. Aliyun, Alibaba’s cloud computing subsidiary, was number three on the list of 100 companies
  5. In the same period, these companies invested about US$25 billion in research and development, 12.6 percent higher than that of the top 100 companies in 2018.

And the killer number was, “Their average R&D intensity, the proportion of R&D expenditure to main business revenue, reached 10.1 percent, 2.2 percentage points higher than the average level of the software industry, the ministry’s data showed.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2020

Amazon: Eero Subscriptions Mean Another Revenue Stream for Amazon

January 24, 2020

Earlier this year, Amazon acquired router maker Eero, which makes networked systems that distribute WiFi across an entire home. Now, CNBC reports, “Amazon Just Announced a New Way to Make Money from its Home Wi-Fi Business: Subscriptions.” Writer Todd Haselton explains:

“The new features include Eero Secure and Eero Secure+, the latter of which used to be called simply ‘Eero Plus.’ Eero secure tracks your browsing and can warn you if you’re visiting potentially malicious sites that might be infected with malware or have been known to phish for private information. It also comes with parental controls. Eero Secure+ offers the same features as Eero Secure but adds in a VPN provided by Encrypt.me, which hides the data crossing your network, a 1Password subscription that gives you one place to manage all of your passwords and Malwarebytes anti-virus software.”

Yes, as many companies have found, subscriptions are a great way to make money. Users can access Eero Secure for $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, while Eero Secure+ goes for $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year. If Eero really takes off, we may see these services added to the Amazon Prime subscription—giving them reason to hike the price across the board, of course. Again.

Cynthia Murrell, January 24, 2020

Crypto Currencies In Japan

January 22, 2020

As one of the most highly technological nations in the world, Japan is a prime market for crypto currencies. Japanese law enforcement officials want to keep crypto currencies on the straight and narrow, so it is no wonder that crypto analytics companies recently hired Japanese CEOs and attracted more Japanese investors. The companies in question are the top three crypto analytics companies: Elliptic, Bitfury, and Chainalysis. Medium delves into the details behind crypto currencies in Japan with the article, “Crypto Investigates Tools In Japan-A Marketplace Analysis.”

Contrary to how it used to be, Bitcoin transactions are traceable, especially with Elliptic, Bitfury, and Chainalysis. Chainalysis appointed Kenji Sugawara as head of the Japanese division. The company’s main product lines are investigating software Reactor that traces blockchains, KYT (Know Your Transaction)-automated crypto currency monitoring software, and Kryptos vets new opportunities and risks in crypto currencies.

Elliptic placed Ken Yagami as head of its Japanese outlet and the company raised $23 million in Series B funding. The funding series was to expand into the Asian market. Elliptic’s main product is Discovery, which helps banks identify and assess risks posed by crypto currencies.

Bitfury hired Katsuya Konno as head of its Japanese operations. The advertising firm Dentsu invested in a 2018 funding round. Unlike the other crypto analytics companies, Bitfury makes hardware and software. Its hardware is designed to keep blockchains secure and its software Exonum-a private blockchain framework, uses its Crystal Blockchain, an advanced analytics platform.

While these are the top three crypto analytics companies in Asia, Merkle Science from Singapore and Uppsala Security with its Threat intelligence Platform called Sentinel Protocol are trying to win part of the markets. Asia is hard to crack:

“While the company appears to focus initially on the South East Asian markets, a Japan market entry does not seem too far-fetched, but obviously the “Big Three” have set the bar quite high in terms of organizational structure, local leadership and Japanese investor base.”

Asia is a hotbed for crypto currency activity, especially China. Japan has one of the strongest Asian economies and as a country heavily invested in advanced technology it needs to be monitor the crypto currencies.

Whitney Grace, January 15, 2020

Technical Debt: Less Like Tetris, More Like Ignoring Rotting Foundations

January 21, 2020

Googlers were chattering about technical debt years ago. I can’t recall the specific service which triggered a discussion about investing, patching, ignoring, or shuttering a service due to “costs.” The online ad giant was not the first mover in MBA/bean counter thinking about the resources consumed maintaining, enhancing, and changing the oil in its massive online systems.

DarkCyber noted “Technical Debt Is like a Tetris Game.” The write up is interesting, and the comparison in some ways is apt. However, video games are set up so that “winning” is often elusive. Dealing with technical debt in an organization is a bit different. The erosion often takes time and may be caused by wrapping the core software in more code. How often are substantive changes made to Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft services. Amazon recommends books the DarkCyber team has already read. Why not look up recommendations in the user’s list of Kindle purchases? An expense for technical debt or managerial indifference? Facebook routinely purges false accounts, but DarkCyber’s mascot has a Facebook page and posts infrequently and then via a software script. The page is still alive and kicking. Why not match user activity to an account and dump the dogs? Pun intended. Technical rot, not technical debt and who wants to lose a “user”? Google delivers irrelevant search results for many queries. Why not fix up the clever PageRank thing? Technical debt or the lack of programmers who want to plunge their hands into the terracotta tiles of the Stanford Mycenaean’s? And Microsoft? Why not make numbering work in Word or document the known dependencies in the Pharonic Fast Search & Transfer code.

These are not game scenarios. These examples are conscious choices to avoid fiddling with software developed decades ago. The premise appears to be that “good enough” is indeed the path to riches. DarkCyber believes that a failure to invest in foundations means that the structure will sag over time. If the structure collapses, the problems are not the death of colorful digital creatures. The implosion will affect humans. Not a game.

There is not money, time, and skilled personnel to remediate what’s chugging along. Decades, not weeks or months. Decades.

Stephen E Arnold, January 21, 2020

Answering This Question: What Does Country X Export? Now Easy

January 20, 2020

Economic complexity is not the bane of college fresh persons. Nope. Investors, New Age snake oil vendors, and quick-buck artists need to answer questions like “What does Peru export?” Answering the question requires work, including interacting with the wonderful resources of online government agencies and non governmental organizations. Now you can answer the Peru question as well as exports by any other country with a mouse click. Head over to the tree map visualization tool from the Observatory of Economic Complexity. You will find the Web system at this link. Data are not real time, but, for now, the reports are free. Hours of fun, just like those cram sessions at university for the Econ 101 mid term.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2020

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