Virtual China: Beefing Up

April 3, 2020

I want to keep this brief. “Tencent to Build AI Supercomputing Center, Industrial Base in Shanghai.” So what’s new? The write up states:

The internet titan and the city’s Songjiang district government signed an deal today to deepen collaboration in areas such as AI…

DarkCyber noted this checklist:

The center will undertake various large-scale AI algorithm calculations, machine learning, image processing, and scientific and engineering computing tasks based on Tencent’s AI capabilities, and provide cloud computing services to the whole of society with data processing and storage capabilities…

Edge computing? Smart manufacturing? Intercept and data analytics?

Check, check, check.

Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2020

DarkCyber for March 31, 2020, Now Available

March 31, 2020

DarkCyber video news program interviews Robert David Steele, a former CIA professional, about human trafficking. Among the topics touched upon in the video are:

  • Why human trafficking is useful to intelligence operatives
  • The mechanics of running an entrapment operation.
  • Jeffrey Epstein’s activities
  • The role of Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Israeli spy Robert Maxwell.

Mr. Steele’s comments reflect his involvement in a book about human trafficking. The video provides a link to a free download of information not widely disseminated.

You can view the program on Vimeo at this link or on YouTube at this link.

Kenny Toth, March 31, 2020

Amazon AWS Challenge to Microsoft JEDI Win Reported

March 27, 2020

If you follow the grudge match between Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, you may be interested in “AWS Charges Pentagon Wants to Give Microsoft a Do-Over on Contested JEDI Bid.” The article states:

In a court filing made public today, Amazon Web Services Inc. is charging that the Pentagon is unfairly favoring rival Microsoft Corp. as part of its reevaluation of the JEDI contract.

The today is March 24, 2020.

The article quotes the document as saying:

“Offerors would be able to change only the services they proposed for Price Scenario 6, and would not be allowed to adjust the unit prices and discounts for those services.

Discriminatory? Maybe.

The article also quotes the document as saying:

“DoD provides no meaningful commitment to evaluate the other serious errors identified by AWS’s protest,” the company wrote. “Even if taken at face value, DoD’s proposed corrective action fails to address in any meaningful way how it would resolve the technical issues AWS has raised, or which specific technical challenges it intends to address.”

Stay tuned.

Stephen E Arnold, March 26, 2020

Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance with ElasticSearch Inside

March 25, 2020

Open source software is a boon to companies and organizations that cannot afford the steep price tag of proprietary software. Open source, however, does have its drawbacks, including lack of customer support, the software is only as good as its developer, and security issues. PR Web describes how the Department of Defense is getting an overdue search upgrade: “PSSC Labs Launches Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance.”

The Department of Defense relied on Elasticsearch for many digital tasks, including cybersecurity and logistics. Elasticsearch was providing the one and done solution the Department of Defense needed for its advanced workloads. Enter the PSSC Labs with its Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance to the rescue. PSSC Labs designs and builds custom big data and high performance computing solutions. Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance is a new platform powered by Elastic and compatible with Elastic Cloud Enterprise.

The Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance will upgrade the Department of Defense’s system components. It also will not be a huge investment and will be a reasonable upgrade cost. The Department of Defense went with PSSC Labs because:

“ ‘We chose Elasticsearch as the foundation of the platform because it offers the flexibility and simplicity other application packages do not. With Elastic, everything is included in one simple per node price. This means companies can utilize the high-performance Elastic Stack for a variety of workloads including log analysis, cybersecurity, simple distributed storage, geospatial data analysis, and other concepts that are still yet to be discovered,’ said Alex Lesser, PSSC Labs Vice President.”

Other than the reasonable cost and product quality, the Department of Defense selected PSSC Labs’ Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance because it was built on Elastic. Elastic is an open source software, but many proprietary software companies build their own products on free technology. The move to the Daedalus Enterprise Search Appliance should relatively simple as the current Department of Defense system is based on Elasticsearch.

Whitney Grace, March 25, 2020

A Term to Understand: Geofencing

March 25, 2020

DarkCyber has reported in its twice-a-month video news program about companies providing specialized geofencing solutions; for example, our go-to touchstone Geofeedia and others like PredPol. You can find these programs by searching DarkCyber on YouTube or Vimeo.

A news story from a “trusted” source reports “Taiwan’s New Electronic Fence for Quarantines Leads Wave of Virus Monitoring.” The “first” means, DarkCyber assumes, refers to a publicized use of a large-scale geofencing operation applied to numerous citizens.

When you read the story, several questions come to mind which the “trusted” story does not touch upon:

  • What vendors provide the geofencing solution in Taiwan and the other countries mentioned in the write up?
  • What technologies are used in addition to the latitude, longitude, time stamp data generated by mobile devices connected to or pinging a “network”?
  • What additional software systems are used to make sense of the data?
  • How long has the infrastructure in Taiwan and the other countries mentioned been in operation?
  • What was the ramp up time?
  • What was the cost of the system?
  • What other applications does the Taiwan system support at this time? In the near future?
  • Are special data handling and security procedures required?

News is one thing. Event A happened. Factoids without context leave questions unanswered. Does one trust an absence of information? DarkCyber does. Of course. Obviously.

Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2020

Facebook: Disappearing Snapchap Content?

March 24, 2020

Ever vigilant Techcrunch published “Instagram Prototypes Snapchat Style Disappearing Text Messages.” The article reports:

Instagram has prototyped an unreleased ephemeral text messaging feature that clears the chat thread whenever you leave it.

The function seems to complement Whatsapp disappearing content.

Will there be unintended consequences of these measures? DarkCyber believes that Facebook has a knack for sparking discussion about its policies, goals, and intentions among some customer segments.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2020

Amazing PR with an IBM Spin

March 24, 2020

Navigate to “Is This Taking a Toll on Coronavirus Pandemic? Scientists Claim This Supercomputer Found the Most Effective Vaccine Against Covid 19.”

Who made the supercomputer? Give up.

IBM did.

What software did the scientists at ORNL use?

IBM’s.

Did IBM pump out the crowning glory of a story itself?

Nope, allegedly ORNL professionals did.

This is a summit of sorts. PR for IBM and a news story to circulate among the appropriation committee at budget time.

Opportunistic? Of course not. Just keeping those competitors like LANL at bay.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2020

Facebook: Another Innovation and Maybe Unforeseen Consequences

March 21, 2020

DarkCyber heard that Google was indexing then not indexing WhatsApp group information. Are other indexing outfits (some we know and love like Bing and others of which few know)?

The purpose of Facebook is for people to share information about themselves publicly or privately. One pull for Facebook is the group chat application WhatsApp that similarly allows users to make groups public or private. If you are a skilled Google searcher, however, some of the private WhatsApp groups are discoverable and joinable says Vice in the article, “Google Is Letting People Find Invites To Some Private WhatsApp Groups.”

To be the best and most competitive search engine, Google crawls the Web and indexes information it finds. Among the information Google is indexing are invite links to WhatsApp group chats. The WhatsApp administrators for those chats probably does not want them publicly shared. There are currently 470,000 results for a Google search of “chat.whatsapp.com.” Most of the private groups are innocuous and/or are for people sharing porn. One link did yield a WhatsApp group for accredited United Nations NGOs and their contact information.

The problem is when WhatsApp users publicly share a private group:

“A WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement, ‘Group admins in WhatsApp groups are able to invite any WhatsApp user to join that group by sharing a link that they have generated. Like all content that is shared in searchable, public channels, invite links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other WhatsApp users. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.’”

DarkCyber thinks there is a fix because Facebook is an interesting company. Governments, including the US government, is nudging forward legislation for backdoors. China and Russia have adopted quite specific tactics to try to make sure that when information is needed, access to those data is available without hurdles, hassles, and techno-bluster.

Whatsapp Could Soon Get Self-Destructing Messages” may or may not be accurate. The write up articulates an interesting “idea” for Facebook:

Whatsapp has been experimenting with a ‘Delete messages’ feature that allows users to set a self-destructing timer for all of their individual chats and have them removed automatically.

A government cannot request access to data which no longer “exist.”

Some Whatsapp users are likely to greet this “idea” with enthusiasm. Some of that enthusiasm may not influence government officials.

What are some hypothetical unintended consequences of this “idea” set forth in the cited article? Here are three:

  1. Criminals step up their usage of Whatsapp
  2. Intercept methods expand
  3. Controls over what is collected may be relaxed.

Net net: Changes may be upon some sectors.

Stephen E Arnold, March 21, 2020

STM Publishers: The White House, NAS, and WHO Created a Content Collection! What?

March 17, 2020

DarkCyber is not working with a science, technology, or medical professional publishing outfit. Sure, my team and I did in the pre-retirement past. But the meetings which focused on cutting costs and boosting subscription prices were boring.

The interesting professional publisher meetings explored changing incentive plans to motivate a Pavlovian-responsive lawyer or accountant to achieve 10-10-20 were fun. (That means 10% growth, 10% cost reduction, and 20% profit.)

I am not sure how I got involved in these projects. I was a consultant, had written a couple of books, and was giving lectures with jazzy titles; for example, “The Future of the Datasphere,” “Search Is a Failure,” and “The Three R’s: Relationships, Rationality, and Revolution.” (Some of these now wonky talks are still available on the www.arnoldit.com Web site. Have at it, gentle reader.)

image

Have professional publishers of STM content received the millstone around the neck award?

This morning I hypothesized about the reaction of the professional publishing companies selling subscriptions to expensive journals to the news story “Microsoft, White House, and Allen Institute Release Coronavirus Data Set for Medical and NLP Researchers.” I learned:

The COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a repository of more than 29,000 scholarly articles on the coronavirus family from around the world, is being released today for free. The data set is the result of work by Microsoft Research, the Allen Institute for AI, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), and others and includes machine-readable research from more than 13,000 scholarly articles. The aim is to empower the medical and machine learning research communities to mine text data for insights that can help fight COVID-19.

The most striking allegedly accurate factoid from the write up: No mention of the professional publishers who “create” and are the prime movers of journal articles. Authors, graduate students, academicians, scholars, and peer review ploughmen and plough women. Yes, professional publishing is sui generis.

Several observations:

  1. Did I miss the forward leaning contributions of the professional publishing community responsible for these STM documents and data sets?
  2. Are the professional publishers’ lawyers now gearing up for a legal action against these organizations and institutions creating a free content collection?
  3. Why didn’t one of the many professional publishing organizations, entities, and lobbying groups take the lead in creating the collection? The virus issue has been chugging along for months.

DarkCyber finds the go-getters behind the content collection a diverse group. Some of the players may be difficult to nail with a breach of licensing or copyright filing. If the article is true and the free assertion is a reality, has an important milestone been passed. Has a millstone been strapped to the neck of each of the STM professional publishing companies? Millstones are to be turned by the professional publishing content producers, not by upstarts like the White House and the World Health Organization.

Not as good as a Netflix show but good for a quick look.

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2020

Amazon Versus Microsoft: A Jedi Fight Development

March 13, 2020

DarkCyber spotted this story on the BBC Web site: “Pentagon to Reconsider Jedi $10bn Cloud Contract.” Since we are in rural Kentucky, the intrepid team does not know if the information in the Beeb’s write up is accurate. The factoids are definitely interesting. The story asserts:

The US Department of Defense is to “reconsider” its decision to award a multi-billion dollar cloud contract to Microsoft over Amazon.

The story points out that Microsoft is confident that its Azure system will prevail. Amazon, on the other hand, is allegedly pleased.

What’s at stake?

  • Money
  • A hunting license for other government contracts
  • Implicit endorsement of either AWS or Azure
  • Happy resellers, integrators, and consultants
  • Ego (maybe?)

When will JEDI be resolved? Possibly in the summer of 2020.

Stephen E Arnold, March 13, 2020

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