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The U.S. Government Pushes Improved Public Access to Code Developed for Government Use

July 15, 2016

The article on Matthias Kirschner’s blog titled US Government Commits to Publish Publicly Financed Software Under Free Software Licenses relates the initiative in the draft policy involving governmental support for increased access to tailored software code built for the Federal Government. Kirschner is the President of the Free Software Foundation Europe, and thereby is interested in promoting the United States’ new policy in the European Union. The article explains,

“The Source Code Policy is intended for efficient use of US taxpayers’ money and reuse of existing custom-made software across the public sector. It is said to reduce vendor lock-in of the public sector, and decrease duplicate costs for the same code which in return will increase transparency of public agencies. The custom-build software will also be published to the general public either as public domain, or as Free Software so others can improve and reuse the software.”

Kirschner believes in empowering people by providing this sort of software, and the US government appears to be equally enthusiastic about promoting innovation rather than redundant software purchases. There are also examples of how non-techy people can use open source resources on the White House article about the draft policy. That article lists tools like free housing counselors, sexual assault data, and even college research through College Scorecard. All in all, this seems like a no-brainer.


Chelsea Kerwin, July 15, 2016

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark

Web meet up on July 26, 2016.

Information is at this link:

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Try the Amazon Brand Computer Chip

July 14, 2016

Amazon offers its clients cloud storage, software development help, and more services via their Amazon Service Works.  The global retailer is also taking on electronics and cable TV with the Kindle and Amazon Fire TV, but now, according to Trusted Reviews, “Amazon Now Selling Own-Brand Computer Chips.”  Amazon wants to diversify its offerings even more with its own brand of computer chips.

The Amazon brand computer chips are made by Annapurna Labs that the company purchased last year.  Amazon recently announced these chips are now available to the open market and the ARM-based processors can be used in home gateways, WiFi routers, and networked attached storage devices.  They are meant to be used as cheap alternatives for home smart devices and data centers, nothing that can compete on the scale of Qualcomm.

The purpose of a capitalistic society is to drive competition and Intel has the computer chip marker monopoly:

“However, it does mark a notable challenge to another major chip manufacturer. As Bloomberg points out, Intel currently has the data-centre infrastructure field pretty much to itself, with a whopping 99% share of the server chip market. Amazon’s entry to this one-sided market could start to change that, although it won’t initially be targeting the kind of high-end servers that represent Intel’s stronghold. Amazon appears to be attacking the low-power edges of the market, which could see it powering (or at least helping to power) that hottest of networks, the Internet of Things.”

Great, Amazon is still working on developing other products, but we want to know when they are going to deploy image search.


Whitney Grace,  July 14, 2016
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Dark Web Drug Merchant Shiny Flakes Fesses Up

July 14, 2016

Authorities know a bit more about how criminals buy and sell drugs on the dark web, thanks to the cooperation of a captured dealer. DarknetPages’ article, “Dark Web and Clearnet Drug Vendor ‘Shiny Flakes’ Confessed his Crimes,” reveals that the 20-year-old Shiny Flakes, aka Maximilian S., was found with a bevy of illegal drugs, cash, and packaging equipment in his German home. Somehow, the police eventually convinced him to divulge his methods. We learn:

“[Maximilian] actually tried to make money on the internet legally in 2013 by copying fee-based pornographic websites. The thing is that the competition was pretty strong and because of that, he abandoned his idea soon after. So instead of spending the 2 thousand EUR he had at the time on porn, he thought it would be a better idea to spend it on drugs. So he went on to purchase 30 g of cocaine and shrooms from a popular German darknet market dealer and then sold them for a higher price on the dark web….

“Shiny Flakes was really worried about the quality of the drugs he was selling and that is why he always kept an eye on forum posts and read everything that his buyers posted about them. In fact, he took things beyond the opinions on the dark web and actually sent the drugs for testing. The tests conducted were both legally and illegally, with the legal tests taking place at Spain’s Energy Control or at Switzerland’s Safer Party. However, it seems that Maximilian also got in touch with the University of Munich where his products were tested by researchers who were paid in cocaine.”

Sounds efficient. Not only was Mr. Flakes conscientious about product quality, he was also apparently a hard worker, putting in up to 16 hours a day on his business. If only he had stayed on the right side of the law when that porn thing didn’t work out. To give him credit, Flakes had every reason to think he would not be caught; he was careful to follow best practices for staying anonymous on the dark web. Perhaps it was his booming success, and subsequent hiring of associates, that led to Shiny Flakes’ downfall. Whatever the case, authorities are sure to follow up on this information.


Cynthia Murrell, July 14, 2016

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Big Data Diagram Reveals Database Crazy Quilt

July 7, 2016

I was cruising through the outputs of my Overflight system and spotted a write up with the fetching title “Big Data Services | @CloudExpo #BigData #IoT #M2M #ML #InternetOfThings.” Unreadable? Nah. Just a somewhat interesting attempt to get a marketing write up indexed by a Web search engine. Unfortunately humans have to get involved at some point. Thus, in my quest to learn what the heck Big Data is, I explored the content of the write up. What the article presents is mini summaries of slide decks developed by assorted mavens, wizards, and experts. I dutifully viewed most of the information but tired quickly as I moved through a truly unusual article about a conference held in early June. I assume that the “news” is that the post conference publicity is going to provide me with high value information in exchange for the time I invested in trying to figure out what the heck the title means.

I viewed a slide deck from an outfit called Cazena. You can view “Tech Primer: Big Data in the Cloud.” I want to highlight this deck because it contains one of the most amazing diagrams I have seen in months. Here’s the image:


Not only is the diagram enhanced by the colors and lines, the world it depicts is a listing of data management products. The image was produced in June 2015 by a consulting firm and recycled in “Tech Primer” a year later.

I assume the folks in the audience benefited from the presentation of information from mid tier consulting firms. I concluded that the title of the article is actually pretty clear.

I wonder, Is a T shirt is available with the database graphic? If so, I want one. Perhaps I can search for the strings “#M2M #ML.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2016

Smart Robots Just Want to Be Free

June 29, 2016

News from some nation states is, in the words of the millennial podcast, “actual factual.” A case in point is the second – yep, the second – news story about a robot with artificial intelligence. This particular robot, as referenced in the “it has to be true” story “An AI Robot Escapes Lab in Russia.” Here’s the passage I noted:

The company said that they are testing a new system that would allow the robot to avoid any collisions while it was operating by itself. However, the mistake was human when a gate was left open and the robot wandered into the street. He was gone for about 40 minutes. The Promobot interacts with people using speech recognition. It uses prerecorded responses, facial expressions, and a large screen to help talk to people. The company has said they hope that the robot will be used for promotions, guides, and tours. Promobot co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev is worried about its ability to break out and said, “I think we might have to dismantle it.”

Modifying the software appears to be an approach which is not part of the program. I was hoping that IBM Watson would help the folks who made Promobot IR77 come up with more newsworthy examples of cognitive solutions.

In the PR department, one cannot do better than IBM. Watson does not fall for pizza promotions.

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2016

Dark Web Hacking Site Changes Hands

June 29, 2016

Navigating the Dark Web can be a hassle, because many of the Web sites are shut down before you have the chance to learn what nefarious content, services, or goods are available.  Some of these sites go down on their own, but law enforcement had a part in dismantling them as well.  Some Dark Web sites are too big and encrypted to be taken down and sometimes they exchange hands, such as Silk Road and now Hell.  Motherboard explains that “Dark Web Hacking Forum ‘Hell’ Appears To Have New Owners.”

The Real Deal, a computer exploit market, claimed to take ownership of Hell, the hacking forum known for spreading large data dumps and stolen data.  Real Deal said of their acquisition:

“ ‘We will be removing the invite-only system for at least a week, and leave the “vetting” forum for new users,’ one of The Real Deal admins, who also used the handle The Real Deal, told Motherboard in an encrypted chat.  ‘It’s always nice to have a professional community that meets our market’s original niche, hopefully it will bring some more talent both to the market and to the forums,’ the admin continued. ‘And it’s no secret that we as admins would enjoy the benefit of ‘first dibs’ on buying fresh data, resources, tools, etc.’”

The only part of Hell that has new administrators is the forum due to the old head had personal reasons that required more attention.  Hell is one of the “steadier” Dark Web sites and it played a role in the Adult FriendFinder hack, was the trading place for Mate1 passwords, and hosted breaches from a car breathalyzer maker.

Standard news for the Dark Web, until the next shutdown and relaunch.


Whitney Grace, June 29, 2016
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Is the NSA Is Overwhelmed with Data?

June 28, 2016

US citizens are worried about their civil liberties being compromised by the National Security AgencyZDNet reports they might not need to be worried anymore in the article, “NSA Is So Overwhelmed With Data, It’s No Longer Effective, Says Whistleblower.”

William Binney is a former official from the National Security Agency (NSA) with thirty years under his belt.  Binney has been a civilian for fifteen years, but he is abhorred with the NSA.  He said the NSA is so engorged with data that it has lost its effectiveness and important intelligence is lost in the mess.  This is how the terrorists win.  Binney also shared that an NSA official could run a query and be overwhelmed with so much data they would not know where to start.

” ‘That’s why they couldn’t stop the Boston bombing, or the Paris shootings, because the data was all there,’ said Binney. Because the agency isn’t carefully and methodically setting its tools up for smart data collection, that leaves analysts to search for a needle in a haystack.  ‘The data was all there… the NSA is great at going back over it forensically for years to see what they were doing before that,’ he said. ‘But that doesn’t stop it.’”

The problems are worse across the other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA, and DEA.  Binney left the NSA one month after 9/11 and reported that the NSA uses an intrusive and expensive data collection system.   The mantra is “to collect it all”, but it is proving ineffective and expensive.  According to Binney, it is also taking away half the Constitution.

Binney’s statements remind me of the old Pokémon games.  The catchphrase for the franchise is “gotta catch ‘em all” and it was easy with 150 Pokémon along with a few cheat codes.  The games have expanded to over seven hundred monsters to catch, plus the cheat codes have been dismantled making it so overwhelming that the game requires endless hours just to level up one character.  The new games are an ineffective way to play, because it takes so long and there is just too much to do.  The NSA is suffering from too many Pokémon in the form of data.


Whitney Grace, June 28, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Self Driving Bicycle Prank Points to Wider Arena

June 24, 2016

Technology companies are no stranger to making April Fools’ pranks in the form of media releases. This year, The Inspiration Room shared an article highlighting the Google Self Driving Bicycle, which was of course developed by the Dutch and launched in the Netherlands. The aspect of this story that is not fiction is how often the Dutch cycle. This short post briefs us on the media release,

“Google is introducing the Google Self Driving Bicycle in Amsterdam, the world’s premier cycling city. The Dutch cycle more than any other nation in the world, almost 900 kilometres per year per person, amounting to over 15 billion kilometres annually. The self-driving bicycle enables safe navigation through the city for Amsterdam residents, and furthers Google’s ambition to improve urban mobility with technology. Google Netherlands takes enormous pride in the fact that a Dutch team worked on this innovation that will have great impact in their home country.”

If there’s one truth this article points to, it’s that the field of search seems to be encompassing nearly everything. It is humorous how Google continues to grow new tentacles tackling more and more arenas that have seemingly little to do with search. Despite the fact this self-driving bicycle does not exist yet, it’s clearly no stretch of the imagination — if a company were to make such a product, would there be any other contenders for who would make it?


Megan Feil, June 24, 2016

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Luciad Data Visualization and Situational Awareness Is Like an Over Stimulated Google Maps

June 21, 2016

The promotional article on Luciad titled Luciad V2016 Puts Users at the Center of Technical Innovation discusses the data fusion product from the global software company emphasizing situational awareness systems for Aviation, Defense and Security markets. 50,000+ people have viewed the 3D browser technology via the web app launched in 2015 that shows the breathtaking capacity to track and visualize moving data in the form of 35,000 international flights. The article states,

“Luciad’s software components are designed for the creation of applications that tackle a range of tasks, from top-level strategy to tactical detail and mission planning to operations debriefing. By connecting directly to data sources, Luciad’s software not only analyzes and visualizes what is happening now, but also helps predict what will happen next – allowing users to act quickly and safely. “Connect, visualize, analyze, act” is both our method and our motto.”

The LuciadFusion technology product features include the ability to fuse and serve multi-dimensional and multi-layered formats as well as multi-dimensional raster data, which applies to weather data. If you thought Google Maps was cool, this technology will blow you away. The developers were very interested in the aesthetic quality of the technology, and richness of the imaging makes that focus crystal clear.
Chelsea Kerwin, June 21, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Public Opinion of Dark Web May Match Media Coverage

June 17, 2016

A new survey about the Dark Web was released recently. Wired published an article centered around the research, called Dark Web’s Got a Bad Rep: 7 in 10 People Want It Shut Down, Study Shows. Canada’s Center for International Governance Innovation surveyed 24,000 people in 24 countries about their opinion of the Dark Web. The majority of respondents, 71 percent across all countries and 72 percent of Americans, said they believed the “dark net” should be shut down. The article states,

“CIGI’s Jardine argues that recent media coverage, focusing on law enforcement takedowns of child porn sites and bitcoin drug markets like the Silk Road, haven’t improved public perception of the dark web. But he also points out that an immediate aversion to crimes like child abuse overrides mentions of how the dark web’s anonymity also has human rights applications. ‘There’s a knee-jerk reaction. You hear things about crime and its being used for that purpose, and you say, ‘let’s get rid of it,’’ Jardine says.”

We certainly can attest to the media coverage zoning in on the criminal connections with the Dark Web. We cast a wide net tracking what has been published in regards to the darknet but many stories, especially those in mainstream sources emphasize cybercrime. Don’t journalists have something to gain from also publishing features revealing the aspects the Dark Web that benefit investigation and circumvent censorship?


Megan Feil, June 17, 2016

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