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Freedom Versus Fear

September 4, 2015

The Ashley Madison data breach has understandably been getting a lot of press, but what does it portend for the future of the Internet? Computerworld’s Tech Decoder predicts far-reaching consequences in, “Here’s Why the Dark Web Just  Got a Lot Darker.” Security experts predict a boom in phishing scams connected to this data breach, as well as copycat hackers poised to attack other (more legit) companies.

Reporter John Brandon suspects such activity will lead to the government stepping in to create two separate Internet channels: one “wild and unprotected” side and a “commercial” side, perhaps sponsored by big-name communications companies, that comes with an expectation of privacy. Great, one might think, we won’t have to worry if we’re not up to anything shady! But there’s more to it. Brandon explains:

“The problem is that I’m a big proponent of entrepreneurship. I won’t comment on whether I think Ashley Madison is a legitimate business. … However, I do want to defend the rights of some random dude in Omaha who wants to sell smartphone cables. He won’t have a chance to compete on the ‘commercial’ side of the Internet, so he’ll probably have to create a site on the unprotected second-tier channel, the one that is ‘free and open’ for everyone. Good luck with that.

“Is it fair? Is it even (shudder) moral? The commercial side will likely be well funded, fast, reliable, government-sanctioned, and possibly heavily taxed. The free side will be like drinking water at the local cesspool. In the end, the free and open Internet is that way for a reason. It’s not so you can cheat on your wife. Frankly, people will do that with or without the Internet. The ‘free and open’ bit is intended to foster ideas. It’s meant to level the playing field. It’s meant to help that one guy in Omaha.”

Yes, security is important, but so is opportunity. Can our society strike a balance, or will fear reign? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, September 4, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Dark Web Drug Trade Unfazed by Law Enforcement Crackdowns

September 3, 2015

When Silk Road was taken down in 2013, the Dark Web took a big hit, but it was only a few months before black marketers found alternate means to sell their wares, including illegal drugs.  The Dark Web provides an anonymous and often secure means to purchase everything from heroin to prescription narcotics with, apparently, few worries about the threat of prosecution.  Wired explains that “Crackdowns Haven’t Stopped The Dark Web’s $100M Yearly Drug Sale,” proving that if there is a demand, the Internet will provide a means for illegal sales.

In an effort to determine if the Dark Web have grown to declined, Carnegie Mellon researchers Nicolas Cristin and Kyle Soska studied thirty-five Dark Web markets from 2013 to January 2015.  They discovered that the Dark Web markets are no longer explosively growing, but the market has remained stable fluctuating from $100 million to $180 million a year.

The researchers concluded that the Dark Web market is able to survive any “economic” shifts, including law enforcement crackdowns:

“More surprising, perhaps, is that the Dark Web economy roughly maintains that sales volume even after major disasters like thefts, scams, takedowns, and arrests. According to the Carnegie Mellon data, the market quickly recovered after the Silk Road 2 market lost millions of dollars of users’ bitcoins in an apparent hack or theft. Even law enforcement operations that remove entire marketplaces, as in last year’s purge of half a dozen sites in the Europol/FBI investigation known as Operation Onymous, haven’t dropped the market under $100 million in sales per year.”

Cristin and Soska’s study is the most comprehensive to measure the size and trajectory of the Dark Web’s drug market.  Their study ended prematurely, because two Web sites grew so big that the researchers’ software wasn’t able to track the content.  Their study showed that most Dark Web vendors are using more encryption tools, they make profits less $1000, and they are mostly selling MDMA and marijuana.

Soska and Cristin also argue that the Dark Web drug trade decreases violence in the retail drug trade, i.e. it keeps the transactions digital than having there be more violence on the streets.  They urge law enforcement officials to rethink shutting down the Dark Web markets, because it does not seem to have any effect.

Whitney Grace, September 3, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Beyond Google, How to Work Your Search Engine

August 28, 2015

The article on Funnelback titled Five Ways to Improve Your Website Search offers tips that may seem obvious, but could always stand to be reinforced. Sometimes the Google site:<url> is not enough. The first tip, for example, is simply to be helpful. That means recognizing synonyms and perhaps adding an autocomplete function in case your site users think in different terms than you do. The worst case scenario is search is typing in a term and yielding no results, especially when the problem is just language and the thing being searched for is actually present, just not found. The article goes into the importance of the personal touch as well,

“You can use more than just the user’s search term to inform the results your search engine delivers… For example, if you search for ‘open day’ on a university website, it might be more appropriate to promote and display an ‘International Open Day’ event result to prospective international students instead of your ‘Domestic Student Open Day’ counterpart event. This change in search behavior could be determined by the user’s location – even if it wasn’t part of their original search query.”

The article also suggests learning from the search engine. Obviously, analyzing what customers are most likely to search for on your website will tell you a lot about what sort of marketing is working, and what sort of customers you are attracting. Don’t underestimate search.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

OpenText: The Linear Value Chain Becomes an Ecosystem

August 27, 2015

EMC is into data lakes, wheels, and hubs.

OpenText has a different view. Navigate to “What Is a Digital Enterprise?”

The main idea is that a digital business is “empowered by digital technology.” Okay, I think that means computers, mobile devices, software. For the last 50 years I have been involved with organizations which have leased, purchased, or invented digital technology.

Is this a news flash?

The write up explains:

This means that the business engages customers and conducts business through digital channels, uses digital assets and/or capabilities, and sells digital products or services. As in the case of startups, the value proposition is keenly focusing on serving digital consumers and is enabled by digital technology. This fundamentally impacts an organization’s value chain.

But the real payoff is this statement:

The value chain of a digital business is more cyclical than it is linear.

But wait, that’s only sort of correct. The value chain is going the way of the snail darter. The Darwinian law of software and service companies is that the future is the ecosystem. Here’s a diagram which makes sense of these remarkable leaps from sequences (what a mid tier consultant calls algorithms which is equally wacky) to value chains to ecosystems.


I like the use of a circle, the interior pentagon, and lines. Very Euclidean in a somewhat four dimensional world. But, hey, Euclid is high school and reality is something else again.

I liked this closing statement:

As we move rapidly toward a Digital World, one thing is clear: information lies at the heart of innovation and disruption. No longer considered just the cost of doing business, information is instrumental in driving innovation and growth. When used the right way, information leads to greater customer satisfaction, accelerates time-to-market, helps to create new opportunities, and enables businesses to remain relevant and competitive. Information is a key strategic component for every organization today and critical to enabling transformation.

I suppose my work career which spans more than a half century in things with zeros and ones, the “rapidly” surprises me.

Perhaps OpenText will open the door to the future. With technology from Fulcrum, Information Dimensions, BRS, and many other slightly long in the tooth digital giants, OpenText may become the go to outfit for this digital stuff.

Stakeholders hope so. The revenues are creeping up but the profitability of the firm has flat lined.


Maybe the digital future thing does not deliver the bottom line impact that some senior managers are supposed to deliver. Without enough money to invest in refurbing old search technology, the future may not be too bright and shiny.

What happens if the ecosystem dies?

Stephen E Arnold, August 27, 2015

Yammer Improvements and Changes on the Horizon

August 27, 2015

A few years ago, Yammer was an integral part of SharePoint’s marketing campaign as they sought to persuade users that they were moving toward a focus on social. With the upcoming release of SharePoint 2016, social is still important, although it feels less forced and more natural this time around. There will be changes to Yammer and Redmond Magazine covers it in their article, “Microsoft Announces Yammer Improvements To Come While Deprecating Some Yammer SharePoint Apps.”

The article says:

“Microsoft announced this week that it is working on a more team-oriented Yammer, and it will be bringing along some mobile app improvements, too. Yammer is Microsoft’s enterprise-grade social networking application that’s part of some Office 365 subscription plans. Yammer can be used as a standalone service, but it’s also used with SharePoint Server products and SharePoint Online implementations.”

To stay current on what else may change with the release of SharePoint Server 2016, stay tuned to Stephen E. Arnold is an expert on search and the enterprise. His dedicated SharePoint feed is a great way to stay up to date on the latest new surrounding SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, August 27, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

What Might be Left Out of SharePoint 2016

August 25, 2015

When a new version of any major software is released, users get nervous as to whether their favorite features will continue to be supported or will be phased out. Deprecation is the process of phasing out certain components, and users are warily eyeing SharePoint Server 2016. Read all the details in the Search Content Management article, “Where Can We Expect Deprecation in SharePoint 2016?”

The article begins:

“New versions of Microsoft products always include a variety of additional tools and capabilities, but the flip side of updating software is that familiar features are retired or deprecated. We can expect some changes with SharePoint 2016.”

While Microsoft has yet to officially release the list of what will make the cut and what will be deprecated, they have made it known that InfoPath is being let go. To stay on top of future developments as they happen, stay tuned to Stephen E. Arnold has made a lifetime career out of all things search, and he lends his expertise to SharePoint on a dedicated feed. It is a great resource for SharePoint tips and tricks at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, August 25, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

More Enterprise Search Revisionism: Omitted Companies Are the Major News

August 24, 2015

A flurry of news items hit my Overflight system in the last couple of days. Gartner, one of the expert for hire mid tier consulting firms, issued a “Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search.” I am not sure if you can access the report. I had to log in to LinkedIn and work through various screens until this gem presented itself to me.


I followed the link and learned that the “Magic Quadrant for 2015” includes these firms:

The Challengers. To me a challenger means a person or thing that engages in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.

  • LucidWorks, founded in 2007
  • Mindbreeze, a unit of Microsoft centric Fabasoft in Austria. The search unit fired up a decade ago
  • Google, ah, dear old Google and its pricey Google Search Appliances. You can find the license fees for some devices via the GSAAdvantage service. Google has been sort of selling GSAs for a decade.
  • Dassault Systems, yep, the French engineering outfit working to convert Exalead’s ageing technology into a product component solution. Exalead dates from 2000. Yikes, that makes the technology 15 years old, an aeon in technology time.

The good news is that LucidWorks has its roots in open source. The other three outfits are proprietary technology.

The second group is Niche Players. The companies in this sector are:

  • Expert System. An outfit which opened its doors in 1992 and whose stock is publicly traded. The share price on August 23, 2015 was $2.13 a share
  • Recommind, founded in year 2000, is a legal system whose technical approach often reminds me of Autonomy’s systems and methods. The firm was founded in 2000 and now, according to this story, has $70 million in revenue
  • Squiz, which is, by golly, not an open source solution despite its origins in the 2001 P@noptic academic/research setting in Australia. Just try searching for that spelling “P@noptic.”

The third group is Visionaries which to me means “given to or characterized by fanciful, not presently workable, or unpractical ideas, views, or schemes.” The dictionary entry here also points out these clarifications: unreal, imaginary, idealistic, impractical, and unrealizable. Here are the search outfits in this category:

  • BA Insight. This is an company founded in 2004. The founder raised some venture money and then found himself looking for his future elsewhere. In the presentations I have heard, BA Insight is [a] an enterprise search system replacement for whatever you have running, [b] a business intelligence system, [c] a metatagging machine, [d] some combination of these functions.,
  • IBM. Ah, dear, old IBM. The company does the home grown thing with scripts and algorithms from its research labs. IBM was founded in It does the open source thing by building in 1911. The company has had a long time to figure out what to do since the STAIRS III and Web Fountain days. Now IBM search means use of open source, community supported, free Lucene. Plus, It does the acquisition thing with SPSS Clementine (remember than, gentle reader), Vivisimo, i2, and Cybertap, among other information access companies IBM has purchased. At the end of the day, I am not sure what search means because IBM has been promoting the heck out of Watson. You remember Watson. It was a TV game show winner. Watson wrote a cook book. Watson is curing cancer. Watson is doing all sorts of wonderful things. I suppose that’s why it is a visionary with 13 consecutive quarters of revenue decline.
  • IHS (Information Handling Service. IHS leverages technology from The Invention Machine (founded in 1992) an acquisition built to locate systems and methods from patent documents. The IHS search system is called Goldfire and positioned as an enterprise search system. IHS, according to Attivio, licenses the Fast Search & Transfer influenced UIA technology platform. IHS for me is a publishing company, but I suppose that doesn’t matter in today’s fluid world.

The final group of search vendors is labeled leaders. So what’s a leader? According to my online dictionary, a leader is a person or thing that leads. And “lead” means to go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort. No, I will not refer to Ashley Madison, gentle reader. I will play this straight. The leaders are:

  • Attivio, founded in 2007. It must be a leader because a “visionary” uses the Attivio technology to be a visionary. Is that self referential like articles about Google’s right to be forgotten which must be forgotten?
  • Coveo, founded in 2004. This company has been, like Attivio, successful in attracting venture capital.The company once focused on Microsoft Windows as did BA Insight. Now the firm is into customer support but the mid tier consultants remember the good old days of enterprise search.
  • Hewlett Packard. Ah, HP, the company wrote a check for $11 billion in 2011, promptly wrote off billions, and embarked on a much loved legal challenge to Dr. Michael Lynch and some other favored individuals. HP, like IBM, has been racking up declining revenues for five consecutive quarters and is in the process of dividing itself into two separate companies. Does this suggest that HP some challenges? Keep in mind Autonomy was founded in the mid 1990s.
  • Lexmark. This is a relative newcomer to enterprise search. The company bought Brainware of trigram fame. Lexmark bought the 1980s search darling ISYS Search Software, which was founded in 1988. The company also snagged Kofax, which got into the content processing game with its acquisition of Kapow. I did hear that Lexmark is looking at some shortfalls related to search and content processing. I reported on the chopping of 500 jobs a couple of months ago. But leaders must expect some setbacks like Hewlett Packard. Perhaps Lexmark will reveal the shortfall from its “search related” endeavors. I would peg the number somewhere in the $75 to $80 million range in the last 18 months.
  • Sinequa. This marketing centric, social media maven was founded in 2002. The company has some big European clients, but I am not certain that the push into the US has met with the “name in lights” success some French stakeholders expected. Sinequa is obviously a leader in search. I classify the company as a business process outfit, but the mid tier consultants are more informed than an old guy in rural Kentucky.

My view of the enterprise search sector is different.The companies in this list are oldies, a couple dating from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Let’s see. In Internet time, that pegs some technology as prehistoric.,

There is a notable omission too. The list of companies identified by the mid tier outfit has missed the company which has been driving a bulldozer through deals.

What company is that?

Elastic, gentle reader. This outfit is in the process of providing the folks at Goldman Sachs with some information access love. The company has shoved aside the Lucid Works outfit which is scrambling to reposition itself as a Big Data spark something. There are cloud versions of Elastic available for a darned reasonable price. Check out SearchBlox, for example. Keep in mind that Elasticsearch was a second act to Compass, another search system.

A question which I asked myself is, “Why has a mid tier outfit which is so darned expert in enterprise search overlooked the big dog?” Frankly I have no evidence other than the odd little grid in the Linked In post. I assume that the experts at the mid tier firms don’t know much about what’s happening in search. Another thought is that the Elastic folks don’t buy much third party expert input about search. Whatever the reason, I suggest you, gentle reader, become familiar with Elasticsearch in the free or for fee variant.

Another gap I noticed is the omission of the appliance folks. Right off the bat, I think Index Engines, Maxxcat, and Thunderstone deserve a tiny footnote. Maxxcat, for example, is pretty good in the enterprise content indexing arena. Buy a box and plug it in. Index Engines does a great job making some specialized content instantly accessible. And Thunderstone? Well, the company has some darned good technology.

A third lacuna is the omission of the wild and crazy, Fast Search & Transfer tinged SharePoint search. There are upwards of 150 million SharePoint installations. Like it or not, Microsoft also shoves search down my throat each time I use Windows 10. Yikes. The system may have a legacy of considerable interest, but the darned thing is out there. Maybe a teeny tiny footnote? I would suggest that the mid tier outfit identify the vendor which sells more search into Microsoft installations than any other vendor. Nope. I won’t identify this outfit. The president agreed to a Search Wizards Speak interview and then backed out. Too bad for him. No life preserver from me again.

What’s the value of this league table or grid thing from the mid tier consulting firm.

First, it allows the companies in the list to issue a news release. I have already seen references to some of the companies. This post was inspired by the junk mail Linked In shoots at me on a regular basis. There’s nothing like PR which gets a company’s name in front of a bunch of red hot prospects.

Second, the mid tier consulting firm can visit with each company. I can imagine that on those visits, the mid tier consulting firm might just mention the firm’s strategic and tactical for fee services. Hey, if I worked for a mid tier consulting firm, I would be sure to explain why retaining me was the best darned thing since sliced bread. Oh, wait. I worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton before it drifted into Snowden drifts. I responded to requests; I don’t recall making sales calls. Life is different now I suppose.

Third, the mid tier reports practically force me to write blog posts. I am delighted to be spurred into action.

Fourth, how much does it cost to use these systems? Why not make a table which presents the name of the company, the search system name so that I know what IBM asserts actually performs enterprise search and what HP calls its cloud stuff with Autonomy made ever so easy? Why not states that such and such a search system begins at $X for the license fee and $Y for the on going support, upgrades, and maintenance? Why not present average hourly engineering and technical service fees? Hey, even the best of this animal shelter of disparate systems fail. Did I say crash? Did I say flame out? Did I say deliver irrelevant results? Well, often in my experience.

To wrap up, the Visionaries, the Challengers, the Leaders, and the Niche Players can output news releases. Some my try to dismiss my observations, which is just peachy keen with me. I assume that failed webmasters, thwarted academicians, and unemployed home economics majors will explain that the best of the best appear in the league table.

Present reality any way one wants. I don’t have to make this stuff work anymore. I don’t have to explain to the CFO why the costs associated with enterprise search will continue to go up until the system is removed from the company. I will no longer have to attend a conference filled with cheerleaders for a utilitarian technology which most companies have learned is pretty much the same as it has been since the days of Fulcrum and Verity.

Remember. This is 2015. Most of the technology presented in the mid tier report is getting old. The world wants mobile. The world wants predictive outputs. The world wants search which actually delivers relevant results.

Maybe that is secondary today?

Will I read the complete report if a copy becomes available to me?

Nah. Marketing stuff bores me.

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2015

Sensible Advice on Content Marketing

August 21, 2015

Here’s a post on structured-content marketing that is refreshingly free of semantic search baloney. Tatiana Tilearcio at Synthesio shares what she learned from a seminar in, “Four Insights from a Content Marketing Crash Course.” The symposium, scheduled to be repeated in October in Connecticut, was presented by content-strategy outfit Content Boost. Tilearcio’s first takeaway promotes a firm foundation; she writes:

“Get Organized And Understand Your Goals Before You Create Your Content Marketing Plan.

Before you sit down to put together your strategic plan, you have to know the answer to the question ‘what’s the purpose for your content marketing, and what will it do to your brand?’ To do this, you need to first create a dream wish-list of what you would like to see for your brand. Next, you need to address how you want to go about enhancing your brand’s content marketing efforts and what your budget is. When creating a content marketing plan, or any marketing plan, a budget is essential. Without a proper budget of what your plan will cost, your ideas will never come to fruition. If you have identified all of this, then you are already well on your way to understanding what your campaign strategy is.”

The article also discusses blending efforts in blogging, social media, and email; co-sourcing content; ensuring users find value in gated assets; repurposing content; and the importance of strong titles. See the post for more details on each of these points. Based in Norwalk, Connecticut, Content Boost is part of the Technology Marketing Corporation, aka TMCnet.

Cynthia Murrell, August 21, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Compare Trump to Lincoln with Watson Personality Insights

August 19, 2015

IBM’s Watson is employing its capabilities in a new and interesting way: BoingBoing asks, “What Does Your Writing Say About You? IBM Watson Personality Insights Will Tell You.” The software derives cognitive and social characteristics about people from their writings, using linguistic analytics. I never thought I’d see a direct, graphically represented comparison between speeches of Donald Trump and Abe Lincoln, but there it is. There are actually some similarities; they’re both businessmen turned politicians, after all. Reporter Andrea James shares Watson’s take on Trump’s “We Need Brain” speech from the recent Republican primary debate:

“You are a bit dependent, somewhat verbose and boisterous. You are susceptible to stress: you are easily overwhelmed in stressful situations. You are emotionally aware: you are aware of your feelings and how to express them. And you are prone to worry: you tend to worry about things that might happen. Your choices are driven by a desire for efficiency. You consider both independence and helping others to guide a large part of what you do. You like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them. And you think it is important to take care of the people around you.”

For comparison, see the write-up for the analysis of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (rest assured, Lincoln does come out looking better than Trump). The article also supplies this link, where you can submit between 3500 and 6000 words for Watson’s psychoanalysis; as James notes, you can submit writing penned by yourself, a friend, or an enemy (or some random blogger, perhaps.) To investigate the software’s methodology, click here.

Cynthia Murrell, August 19, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Wikipedia: The PR Revolution

August 17, 2015

i read “The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia—for Pay.” I am an old fashioned backwoodsperson. I look up stuff. I try to figure out which source is semi reliable. I read and do some (not much, of course) thinking.

Other folks just whack 2.7 words into the Alphabet—oops, I mean, the Google—click on the first link which is often a pointer to Wikipedia and take the “information” displayed. Easy. Quick. Just right for those who have no time, like social media, and use handheld devices.

The write up points out what seems to me to be an obvious “evolutionary” leap:

How can a site run by volunteers inoculate itself against well-funded PR efforts? And how can those volunteers distinguish between information that’s trustworthy and information that’s suspect?

The write up explores one example of public relations folks cranking out objective articles for Wikipedia.

Why worry? Getting accurate information involves more than relying on Alphabet – oh, there I go again, I mean the Google – and its all time fave number one Wikipedia.

Dialog Information Services pioneered this default top hit. When I logged on, the default database was Education Index or something like that. The clueless would run their query for diamond deposition in that database, thus having an upside for Dialog. Too bad about the system user.

The burden, gentle reader, falls not on Wikipedia, which is fighting a losing battle against the forces of Lucifer – I am sorry, I mean public relations.

The burden falls on the person doing the search to figure out what information is correct. Bummer. That’s real work. Who has time for that anyway?

Stephen E Arnold, August 17, 2016

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