Cybersecurity Technologies Fueled by Artificial Intelligence

December 28, 2016

With terms like virus being staples in the cybersecurity realm, it is no surprise the human immune system is the inspiration for the technology fueling one relatively new digital threat defense startup. In the Tech Republic article, Darktrace bolsters machine learning-based security tools to automatically attack threats, more details and context about Darktrace’s technology and positioning was revealed. Founded in 2013, Darktrace recently announced they raised $65 million to help fund their expansion globally. Four products, including their basic cyber threat defense solution called Darktrace, comprise their product suite. The article expands on their offerings:

Darktrace also offers its Darktrace Threat Visualizer, which provides analysts and CXOs with a high-level, global view of their enterprise. Darktrace Antigena complements the core Darktrace product by automatically defends against potential threats that have been detected, acting as digital “antibodies.” Finally, the Industrial Immune System is a version of Darktrace designed for Industrial Control Systems (ICS). The key value provided by Darktrace is the fact that it relies on unsupervised machine learning, and it is able to detect threats on its own without much human interaction.

We echo this article’s takeaway that machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies continue to grow in the cybersecurity sector. The attention on AI is only building in this industry and others. Perhaps the lack of AI is particularly well-suited to cybersecurity as it’s behind-the-scenes nature that of Dark Web related crimes.

Megan Feil, December 28, 2016

UN Addresses Dark Web Drug Trade

December 16, 2016

Because individual nations are having spotty success fighting dark-web-based crime, the United Nations is stepping up. DeepDotWeb reports, “UN Trying to Find Methods to Stop the Dark Web Drug Trade.” The brief write-up cites the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC’s) latest annual report, which reveals new approaches to tackling drugs on the dark web. The article explains why law-enforcement agencies around the world have been having trouble fighting the hidden trade. Though part of the problem is technical, another is one of politics and jurisdiction. We learn:

Since most of the users use Tor and encryption technologies to remain hidden while accessing dark net marketplaces and forums, law enforcement authorities have trouble to identify and locate their IP addresses. …

Police often finds itself trapped within legal boundaries. The most common legal issues authorities are facing in these cases are which jurisdiction should they use, especially when the suspect’s location is unknown. There are problems regarding national sovereignties too. When agencies are hacking a dark net user’s account, they do not really know which country the malware will land to. For this reason, the UNODC sees a major issue when sharing intelligence when it’s not clear where in the world that intelligence would be best used.

The write-up notes that the FBI has been using tricks like hacking Dark Net users and tapping into DOD research. That agency is also calling for laws that would force suspects to decrypt their devices upon being charged. In the meantime, the UNODC supports the development of tools that will enhance each member state’s ability to “collect and exploit digital evidence.” To see the report itself, navigate here, where you will find an overview and a link to the PDF.

Cynthia Murrell, December 16, 2016

Nobody Really Knows What Goes on over Dark Web

December 16, 2016

While the mainstream media believes that the Dark Web is full of dark actors, research by digital security firms says that most content is legal. It only says one thing; the Dark Web is still a mystery.

The SC Magazine in an article titled Technology Helping Malicious Business on the Dark Web Grow says:

The Dark Web has long had an ominous appeal to Netizens with more illicit leanings and interests. But given a broadening reach and new technologies to access this part of the web and obfuscate dealings here, the base of dark web buyers and sellers is likely growing.

On the other hand, the article also says:

But despite its obvious and well-earned reputation for its more sinister side, at least one researcher says that as the dark web expands, the majority of what’s there is actually legal. In its recent study, intelligence firm Terbium Labs found that nearly 55 percent of all the content on the dark web is legal in nature, meaning that it may be legal pornography, or controversial discussions, but it’s not explicitly illegal by U.S. law.

The truth might be entirely different. The Open Web is equally utilized by criminals for carrying out their illegal activities. The Dark Web, accessible only through Tor Browser allows anyone to surf the web anonymously. We may never fully know if the Dark Web is the mainstay of criminals or of individuals who want to do their work under the cloak of anonymity. Till then, it’s just a guessing game.

Vishal Ingole, December 16, 2016

The Data Sharing of Healthcare

December 8, 2016

Machine learning tools like the artificial intelligence Watson from IBM can and will improve healthcare access and diagnosis, but the problem is getting on the road to improvement.  Implementing new technology is costly, including the actual equipment and training staff, and there is always the chance it could create more problems than resolving them.  However, if the new technology makes a job easier and resolves situations then you are on the path to improvement.  The UK is heading that way says TechCrunch in, “DeepMind Health Inks New Deal With UK’s NHS To Deploy Streams App In Early 2017.”

London’s NHS Royal Free Hospital will employ DeepMind Health in 2017, taking advantage of its data sharing capabilities.  Google owns DeepMind Health and it focuses on driving the application of machine learning algorithms in preventative medicine.  The NHS and DeepMind Health had a prior agreement in the past, but when the New Scientist made a freedom of information request their use of patients’ personal information came into question.  The information was used to power the Streams app to sent alerts to acute kidney injury patients.  However, ICO and MHRA shut down Streams when it was discovered it was never registered as a medical device.

The eventual goal is to relaunch Streams, which is part of the deal, but DeepMind has to repair its reputation.  DeepMind is already on the mend with the new deal and registering Streams as a medical device also helped.  In order for healthcare apps to function properly, they need to be tested:

The point is, healthcare-related AI needs very high-quality data sets to nurture the kind of smarts DeepMind is hoping to be able to build. And the publicly funded NHS has both a wealth of such data and a pressing need to reduce costs — incentivizing it to accept the offer of “free” development work and wide-ranging partnerships with DeepMind…

Streams is the first step towards a healthcare system powered by digital healthcare products.  As already seen is the stumbling block protecting personal information and powering the apps so they can work.  Where does the fine line between the two end?

Whitney Grace, December 8, 2016

The Noble Quest Behind Semantic Search

November 25, 2016

A brief write-up at the ontotext blog, “The Knowledge Discovery Quest,” presents a noble vision of the search field. Philologist and blogger Teodora Petkova observed that semantic search is the key to bringing together data from different sources and exploring connections. She elaborates:

On a more practical note, semantic search is about efficient enterprise content usage. As one of the biggest losses of knowledge happens due to inefficient management and retrieval of information. The ability to search for meaning not for keywords brings us a step closer to efficient information management.

If semantic search had a separate icon from the one traditional search has it would have been a microscope. Why? Because semantic search is looking at content as if through the magnifying lens of a microscope. The technology helps us explore large amounts of systems and the connections between them. Sharpening our ability to join the dots, semantic search enhances the way we look for clues and compare correlations on our knowledge discovery quest.

At the bottom of the post is a slideshow on this “knowledge discovery quest.” Sure, it also serves to illustrate how ontotext could help, but we can’t blame them for drumming up business through their own blog. We actually appreciate the company’s approach to semantic search, and we’d be curious to see how they manage the intricacies of content conversion and normalization. Founded in 2000, ontotext is based in Bulgaria.

Cynthia Murrell, November 25, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Neural-Net AI Service Echobox Manages Newspaper Presences on Social Media

November 18, 2016

An article at Bloomberg Technology, titled “It Took Robots for This French Newspaper to Conquer Twitter,” introduces Echobox, a startup that uses a neural-network approach to managing clients’ social media presences. The newspaper mentioned in the title is the esteemed Liberation, but Echobox also counts among its clients the French Le Monde, Argentinia’s La Nacion, and The Straits Times out of Singapore, among many others. Apparently, the site charges by the page view, though more pricing details are not provided. Writer Jeremy Kahn reports that Echobox:

… Determines the most opportune time to post a particular story to drive readership, can recommend what headline or tweet to send out, and can select the best photograph to illustrate the post. Using the software to post an average of 27 articles per day, Grainger [Liberation’s CTO] said that Liberation had seen a 37 percent increase in the number of people it reached on Facebook and a 42 percent boost in its reach on Twitter. ‘We have way more articles being seen by 100,000 people or more than before,’ Grangier said. He also said it made life easier for his digital editors, allowing them to spend more time curating the stories they wanted to publish to social media and less on the logistics of actually posting that content.

So, it seems like the service is working. Echobox’s CTO Marc Fletcher described his company’s goal—to create a system that could look at content from an editor’s point of view. The company tailors their approach to each customer, of course. There are competitors in the social-media-management space, like SocialFlow and Buffer, but Kahn says Echobox goes further. He writes:

Echobox professes to offer a fuller range of automation than those services, with its software able to alter a posting schedule to adjust to breaking news, posting content related to that event, and delaying publication of less relevant stories. Echobox uses a neural network, a type of machine learning that is designed to mimic the way parts of the human brain works. This system first learns the audience composition and reading habits for each publication and then makes predictions about the best way to optimize a particular story for social media. Over time, the predictions should get more accurate as it ‘learns’ the nuances of the brand’s audience.

This gives us one more example of how AI capabilities are being put to practical use. Founded in 2013, Echobox  is based in London and maintains an office in New York City. The company also happens to be hiring as I write this.

Cynthia Murrell, November 18, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

American Spies Are Using MapD This Season

November 11, 2016

Spies have cool gadgets to do their jobs.  Since the advent of the digital age, their gadgets not only have gotten cooler, but more complex.  Spy technology is built on the same software used in other non-intelligence-related industries.  Datanmi shares the CIA’s next technology investment in, “Why America’s Spy Agencies Are Investing In MapD.”

Q-Tel heads the CIA technological venture and they decided to run their new innovations on MapD.  The article makes an apt point that the CIA has fallen into the big data pool like the rest of the world, thus they are encountering many of the same problems as other industries.  Some of these problems include too much data and not enough time, funds, or ways to interpret it.

One reason that Q-Tel has turned to MapD is that it uses GPUs.  MapD is a very fast SQL database and, unlike many of its counterparts, it was specifically designed to run on GPUs.  It also includes a visual analytics layer that allows users to interact with data.

The CIA wants to use MapD to speed up its technology, so it can process and interpret its data faster than before.  It is straight forward why the CIA wants to use MapD.

Do not think this will be the last development from MapD this year.  The young company has already rounded up investors:

MapD is still ramping up. The San Francisco-based company completed a $12-million round of financing earlier this year, which In-Q-Tel was a part of. The company has 30 employees, and a handful of customers (Mostak says “in the tens”) across various industries. The software is being used by oil and gas companies, banks, hedge funds, retailers, ad tech firms, and the U.S. Government, the CEO confirms.

MapD will power an entire generation of CIA intelligence technology.  That is something you will not learn from the latest spy movie.

Whitney Grace, November 11, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Is Your Company a Data Management Leader or Laggard?

November 4, 2016

The article titled Companies are Falling Short in Data Management on IT ProPortal describes the obstacles facing many businesses when it comes to data management optimization. Why does this matter? The article states that big data analytics and the internet of things will combine to form an over $300 billion industry by 2020. Companies that fail to build up their capabilities will lose out—big. The article explains,

More than two thirds of data management leaders believe they have an effective data management strategy. They also believe they are approaching data cleansing and analytics the right way…The [SAS] report also says that approximately 10 per cent of companies it calls ‘laggards’, believe the same thing. The problem is – there are as many ‘laggards’, as there are leaders in the majority of industries, which leads SAS to a conclusion that ‘many companies are falling short in data management’.

In order to avoid this trend, company leaders must identify the obstacles impeding their path. A better focus on staff training and development is only possible after recognizing that a lack of internal skills is one of the most common issues. Additionally, companies must clearly define their data strategy and disseminate the vision among all levels of personnel.

Chelsea Kerwin,  November 4, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Yahoo and Email Trick. Trick?

October 17, 2016

I read “Users Accuse Yahoo of Email Trick.” The headline is interesting, but I don’t think of Yahoo as a tricky outfit. I would suggest words along the lines of clumsy, mismanaged, inept, and clueless.

The write up suggests that Yahoo took an action to make it difficult and impractical for a person to move email from Yahoo to another service. Evidence of the cloud of unknowing swathing Yahoo in a purple haze which seems to have wafted over the BBC is this statement:

Yahoo has denied that it has made it deliberately difficult for customers to migrate to another email provider. It follows the disabling of an email-forwarding feature which allows people to migrate automatically. Yahoo said it was a “temporary” move while it worked on improvements.

My view is that Yahoo may be incapable of planning an action. My hunch is that Yahoo’s disorganization and dysfunctional decision making reached a conclusion independent of the Verizon sale, public opinion, thoughts about Yahoo mail users heading for Yandex or some other service.

What’s remarkable is that the BBC write up does not question the actions of Yahoo in a manner less like Lucy picking on Charlie Brown and more like the characters in “Silicon Valley.”

On the other hand, maybe Yahoo is shooting an episode of “Silicon Valley” and following the writers’ directions? That makes more sense than some of the behaviors of Yahoot I have watched in Yahoo’s version of reality TV.

Stephen E Arnold, October 17, 2016

Knowledge Management: Dazed and Confused?

October 16, 2016

I read an interview posted by TallyFox. If you are not familiar with the company, TallyFox provides a collaboration and content management system. The idea is that a company’s real and off site workers can share information. The company states on its LinkedIn page:

TallyFox’s intelligence platform, makes knowledge sharing fun and dynamic. With our proprietary algorithm SmartMatchPro, access to expertise is facilitated, collective knowledge becomes accessible, and you can benefit from it right now, anywhere in the world.

The TallyFox interview with Dr. Nancy Dixon (Common Knowledge, a non profit and a book) is interesting. I noted these factoids and assertions:

  • almost 50% of workers are virtual, or “distributed”
  • people who are communicating only virtually tend to lose the sense of purpose of what the organization is about.
  • A challenge is “to motivate our experts to share tacit knowledge to make the knowledge from inside of a project available to the team of another project.”
  • “Collective Sensemaking is a piece of the process which will show us how to take advantage of the virtual and still stay connected in a human way. We are doing it by crowdsourcing, by Innovation Jams, by Working Out Loud, and all of those ways are bringing back the Human Side into the Virtual.”
  • “People don’t offer their knowledge because they don’t know what the other person needs…”

Sounds good.It strikes me that Facebook’s Workplace may be encroaching on the collaboration segment. Does Facebook embrace knowledge management?

Stepping back: Knowledge management leaves me dazed and confused about what, how, where, and why? Perhaps knowledge management should become knowledge “Kumbaya” with people online and posting to Facebook while sitting around a Mac with a fireplace screensaver.

Stephen E Arnold, October 16, 2016

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