Indian Regulators Pursue Market Manipulators Around Web

January 11, 2018

Apparently, efforts by India’s market watchdog have driven manipulators in that country to explore alternative methods of communication. So we learn from the article, “Market Manipulators Take To Dark Web, Whatsapp As Sebi Steps Up Surveillance” at India’s NDTV. Note that a “multi-bagger” is a deal promising multi-fold returns. We’re told:

Market manipulators have hooked onto dark web and private chat groups on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram for sharing ‘multibagger’ stock tips and unpublished price sensitive information about listed firms. This has prompted the exchanges and the regulator to beef up the ‘whistleblower’ framework to encourage people, including investors and those working with various market intermediaries, to anonymously give a tip-off on such groups. The shift to these platforms follow an enhanced vigil by the capital markets watchdog Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and the stock exchanges on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, while the regulator can also seek call data records from telecom firms for its probe.

The article notes that both the National Stock Exchange of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange have tip-off systems in place and that officials are considering ways to reward whistleblowers. Both exchanges are using social media analytics to monitor for rumors and news reports about companies they have listed. They are also analyzing the last year’s worth of trade data for such companies, hoping to spot any breaches of norms. So far, Sebi has taken action against some parties for providing investment advice without a registration. The article observes that last year, Sebi suggested banning the exchange of “unauthorized trading tips” through chat apps, social media, and securities-related games and competitions; however, no such regulation has been put in place as of yet.

Cynthia Murrell, January 11, 2018

AlphaBay Takedown Just One Chapter in Dark Web Saga

January 9, 2018

Did the takedown of AlphaBay last summer have much effect, or will black markets on the dark web carry on with business as usual? Both, according to Wired’s article, “The Biggest Dark Web Takedown Yet Sends Black Markets Reeling.” Writer Andy Greenberg details the immediate aftermath as customers of AlphaBay, the largest dark web marketplace in existence, frantically searched for other sources—apparently causing technical difficulties for two of the leading alternatives. He also notes the (reasonable) secrecy around just how the FBI pulled this off, causing other dark web vendors to wonder whether they will be next.

On the other hand, a robust demand for black market goods has been a fact of life for millennia, and that does not stop with AlphaBay’s defeat. Greenberg writes:

Even so, the chaos in the wake of AlphaBay’s disappearance shouldn’t deal a death blow to the dark web’s vibrant drug trade, or even cause much more than a temporary shakeup, says Carnegie Mellon’s Christin. He points to prior dark web crises like the 2013 takedown of the Silk Road, the bust of the Silk Road’s sequel site in late 2014, or the so-called ‘exit scam’ pulled by the dark web market Evolution in 2015, in which its administrators abruptly absconded with their patrons’ bitcoins. Each time, Christin points out, the dark web’s overall business took a temporary dive, but came roaring back more quickly after those setbacks and continued to grow as a whole. AlphaBay, for example, had more than 20 times as many product listings as the original Silk Road. (Some research has found that even bad news about the dark web markets only attracts more users to them.) And AlphaBay’s buyers and customers will eventually find a new home.

And so the adventure continues. What is next in the fight between law enforcement and dark web marketplaces? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, January 9, 2018

Google Images Staring down Some Steep Competition

January 5, 2018

When we are looking for photos online Google Images has become a sort of shorthand for tracking down pics quick. The folks in Mountain View don’t want you to think much about its shortcomings. However, that topic is bubbling up to the surface, as we saw in a recent Free Technology for Teachers story, “5 Good Alternatives to Google Image Search.”

According to the story:

Google Images tends to be the default image search tool of students and adults who haven’t been introduced to better options. Google Images is convenient, but it’s not the best place for students to find images that are in the public domain or images that have been labeled with a Creative Commons license.

One they recommend is:

Unsplash offers a huge library of images that are either in the public domain or have a Creative Common license. If you or your students are using Google Slides, the Unsplash add-on for Google Slides makes it easy to quickly take images from Unsplash and add them to your slides. Watch my video embedded below to see how the Unsplash add-on for Google Slides works.

This should be a wakeup call for Google. The tech giant seems to have a new balloon popped every day. We love competition and we love leaders reinventing themselves to better meet client needs. We consider this to be a win-win no matter how you slice it.

Patrick Roland, January 5, 2018

Gartner Starts 2018 with Stale Spam

December 31, 2017

After a decade of New Year blog posts I was running out of ideas. But, I received an email from a Gartner Group professional named Brandon Pineres.

image

I don’t know Brandon. I don’t know anyone in Florida I would trust to walk my 11 year old boxer Max.

I assume Brandon is a person who is trying hard to sell me Gartner’s consulting services. He may be eager to convert me to a dot point in one of Gartner’s intellectually challenged Magic Quadrants. (BCG’s Bruce Henderson probably shakes each time he contemplates what happened to General Eisenhower’s grid which BCG whipped into the cash cow, star, loser graphic decades ago.) Brandon may be hoping that I will write a check for %55,000 or more so I can give a talk at one of Gartner’s networking events.

Quick tip: Navigate to Beyond Search and run a query for Gartner. I have written about or mentioned Gartner a handful of times. Try this write up, for instance: Cacaphones.

image

His spam (email I did not request) enjoined with wonky syntax like “being that” and offered with great good cheer:

Having attempted to reach out to you over the last few weeks I wanted to follow up one last time before the end of Gartner’s financial year. Being that Gartner is a publically traded company, we are being offered the most aggressive commercial flexibility now. I have the ability to get you unlimited access at a highly discounted price. I would love to work with you to explore the most cost effective Gartner solution that can support ArnoldIT’s strategy in 2018. Would you be interested in having an exploratory dialog today and discuss the commercial incentives and how you can work with your key analysts in 2018 to accelerate time to revenue and increase awareness with your buyers?

Does the tone and approach reminds you of the baloney some business school majors absorb from adjunct professors who don’t want to work at Wendy’s or McDo’s?

Also, I have no record of Brandon’s “reach out.” I have been sitting in my office working on the second edition of the best selling “Dark Web Notebook” and making Dark Cyber videos. I am not sure Gartner can help me with my strategy. I suppose if he attends the Telestrategies ISS events at which I lecture, he might pick up an idea or two about where my research is headed. Well, maybe not.

Brandon does not think I know that Gartner Group is publicly-traded. I do know this. I also know that Gartner Inc. has trended down, flopping around $123 a share. In an effort to pump up revenue, Brandon’s spam is, according to mid tier consulting firm reason, going to generate revenue from me.

Wrong.

As a former Booz, Allen & Hamilton professional and veteran of some other reasonably interesting jobs, I typically pay little or no attention to what I call mid-tier consulting firms and their staff. I have done odd jobs for some other blue-chip outfits, but I have not involved myself with the mid-tier or bottom-feeders unless I was paid by them to show up at an event or write a short report. In my experience, the non-blue chip firms buy reports from people like me and then put their name on them. Want proof? Check out the erstwhile Dave Schubmehl, an administrative master, at this link.

Several points:

  1. Why not spend a moment to research the person before sending spam? Spam might have unintended consequences.
  2. Why pretend to have tried to contact me and I, because of stupidity or indifference, did not respond to unsolicited email?
  3. Why assume that a former Booz, Allen person will write a check to a mid-tier consulting firm’s offer of low-ball pricing and help making contacts?

My hunch is that there are people who will fall for this type of marketing.

I won’t and don’t. A word of advice from the sage of Harrod’s Creek: Don’t spam me. I can be frisky plus I have time to write humorous essays about those who don’t take the time to learn about my background.

Brandon, I bet 2018 will be a better year without unsolicited emails. What do you think?

Now I have to email your message with headers to my pals at spam@uce.gov.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2017

Google Getting into More Trouble Because of Ads

December 26, 2017

It feels like Google is in the news every day lately. Usually, it’s not for anything good. Take, for instance, the recent Register piece about some fishy ad policies, in the article “Google Lies About Click-Fraud Refunds and Tried to Destroy Us –Ad Biz.”

In a complaint filed in a US district court in San Jose, California, on Wednesday, the ad biz claimed Google failed to refund almost $500,000 paid to place ads on websites that drove invalid traffic, in violation of Google rules

Claiming that this is a pattern of behavior, the complaint seeks recognition as a class action for Google’s alleged false promises to refund advertisers for ad impressions placed through Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange deemed to be invalid.

The lawsuit contends that a Google employee had warned the ad biz privately that Google’s Network Partner Managers like AdTrader ‘would mysteriously start getting into trouble with Google once they reached an annual revenue run rate of $4-5 million.’

It should be pointed out that Google has not been convicted of any of these claims, but they are troubling. It is easy to say that it is a busy time to be a member of the search giant’s legal team. Recently, the city of Seattle sent Google a letter stating that it is considered a commercial advertiser, like a radio or television station, and therefore had to turn over any information about political ads sold regarding city elections. We have no doubt Google will weather these storms, but they are concerning.

Patrick Roland, December 26, 2017

Artificial Intelligence: Smarts of a Five Year Old?

December 22, 2017

Who knows if this is true? I find the assertion in “AI Is Still Dumber Than a 5-Year-Old, Say Scientists” interesting. According to Inc. Magazine:

Despite all the hype, there’s been absolutely no progress in the quest to teach computers to have common sense… When it comes to anything that requires common sense, however, AI is almost helpless.

The source for the factoid? Stanford University AI wonks.

Marketing in one thing. Reality is another.

Stephen E Arnold, December 22, 2017

The Future Is Search. Hmmm

December 17, 2017

I read an unusual chunk of content marketing. Navigate to “In the Rush to Big Data, We Forgot about Search.” Who’s the “we”? I think the “we” are customers who are migrating next generation information access systems. Lawyers have relativity. Manufacturers have SAP and Dassault solutions. Folks without much faith in commercial search vendors have Elasticsearch or low-cost systems which deliver a list of results which match a query. The “we”, therefore, seems to refer to the Lucid Imagination outfit now doing business as Lucidworks.

The write up explains that “we need to look at search to be the glue that lets us find the data and analyze it together no matter where it lives.”

That sounds super.

I think there are companies delivering this type of service as they have been for a number of years.

The reason is that vendors who are anchored in search and retrieval like Lucidworks have been bypassed.

In Dark Cyber I write about a stealthy outfit called Blackdot. The company complements the Relativity eDiscovery platform. Sure, there’s a search function, but Relativity does analytics, clustering, and functions which fit the needs of those engaged in eDiscovery. Search is part of the game, which for big cases, involves big data.

Blackdot enhances Relativity. You can learn about some of the functions of this company in the December 26, 2017, Dark Cyber video program.

So what?

The so what is that the services provided by Relativity and Blackspot deliver high value outputs that provide outputs which are immediately useful to analysts, investigators, lawyers, and others who use the integrated systems to solve problems.

A company which wants to deliver this type of service is likely wade into high water and thrash for purchase. The reason is that building a solution from open source tools and home brew scripts is a tough job.

Specialists have been using open source and proprietary code to roll out information access solutions. Relativity is just one example. By the way, Relativity has been plugging away for more than a decade.

A column which makes a case for a customer to let a vendor of open source search build from ground zero a next generation information access solution is going to be a vendor with a smile. However, once the solution fails to meet expectations, those smiles will turn to frowns.

Maybe that’s why Lucidworks has burned through one original founder, several presidents, and $59 million?

Search is a utility. It is not a headliner. Search works when it complements higher value functionality such as those delivered by Relativity and Blackdot or any of the other firms we track for our CyberOSINT research.

Search had its fling, but the glory days faded. When we look at the landscape of enterprise search or Big Data for that matter, we see winners. From our vantage point in Harrod’s Creek, the company leading the much smaller search parade is Elastic. Yep, it’s Lucene, but it has a following.

Guess who one of the followers is. Give up. Lucidworks. The technology is based on Lucene.

Selling consulting services is one thing. Selling search is another.

Today’s forward looking companies want next generation access, and they can get it from dozens of vendors. No starting from scratch. Sign a deal and begin processing data (big or small).

I highlighted this statement from the write up:

So if you move some of your data to SaaS solutions, move some of your data to PaaS solutions, move some of your data to IaaS solutions and across multiple vendors’ cloud platforms while maintaining some of your data behind the firewall—yeah, no one is going to find anything!

Sure. Solve problems. Don’t create them. One can search for solutions using a search engine. Let me know how that works out for your next big decision which you have to make in 10 seconds or less.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2017

Marketing Craziness Will Dominate in 2018

December 15, 2017

It’s official. The new year will herald more marketing craziness than even I expected. The proof, if one can call a survey of people who want to be really rich while keeping Sillycon Valley in high clover, a source of unbiased information appears in “State of Startups.”

I learned:

In 2015 and 2016, engineering leaders were far and away the hardest executive hires to make. But this year, the tables turned, and sales leaders became the most coveted and difficult hires (with 26% saying sales was the hardest vs. 24% saying engineering). This looks like the start of a sea change as more enterprise companies enter the fray, compete for talent, and see firsthand how costly a bad VP of Sales hire can be.

The “report” outlines other issues of importance. For me, the shift from gee whiz technology to selling products and services is the signal for the revenue horse race to begin.

Marketing by jargon, demo fluff, and mindless automated communications are likely to be in contention. But the smart money is on the consummate sales person who can close deals and generate revenue. Horse owners want a payoff because digital currency seems to be a new game for those with a desire to bet on a big winner.

They are off and running.

Stephen E Arnold, December 15, 2017

Pinterest Searches Now Powered by Dollars

December 15, 2017

Oh, Pinterest why did it take you so long?  Search Engine Watch shares the long awaited and non-surprising news that: “Pinterest Moves Into Paid Search: What You Need To Know.”  If you have a craft, design, decoration, wedding, book, dog, clothing, etc. business, then Pinterest Ads Manager is now open for business and ready to host your ads.  Pinterest hopes that its new ad platform will deliver a competitive advertising experience similar to Google AdWords.

This announcement comes at the end of a lengthy campaign to get the product right, with early partners including eBay, Target, and bid management platform Kenshoo. The newly released self-serve paid search platform provides the same experience these early partners have enjoyed, without the need to go through Pinterest or a third party to get started. The Ads Manager allows brands to create and optimize their promoted Pins and will also track and report on campaign performance.

Pinterest has long desired to monetize its search and the image-driven social platform is perfect to suggest products and services to consumers.  Monetizing search has its own unique challenges, but they are practically the same ones Facebook had when they launched their own ad platform.  Pinterest used its statistics to lure potential advertisers:

          97% of Pinterest searches are non-branded

There are now over 200 million Pinterest users (up from 150

million in 2016)

More than 2 billion searches take place on Pinterest each                    month

75% of all Pins saved by users come from businesses.

Pinterest heavily borrowed search ideas from other social networks, such as the keyword targeting.  However, Pinterest wants to be seen as a separate and highlight its unique features as different Google’s AdWords.  It is another market to target users and get attention to products.  It is brand new and exactly the same!

Whitney Grace, December 15, 2017

Craigslist Is Shooting Itself in the Foot by Shunning Search

December 6, 2017

Craigslist is legendary as a way to find things, sell things, get jobs and meet people. But, it’s aim is to do so locally. Recently, some search engines started allowing users to search all of Criagslist, but it won’t last and that’s a shame. We learned this from a Search Engines List article, “How to Search All of Craigslist.”

According to the story, there are several new search tools on the market:

All these sites work roughly the same way. They provide a simple front end with either a series of selections to choose from or a search engine box. You can use them to search Craigslist, and sometimes other classified advert websites, without having to drill down into your city or area.

 

Use these services while you can, though. Unfortunately, Craigslist is cracking down on scrapers and websites that crawl its website. It has already blocked a number of the more popular Craigslist crawlers and will likely block more as time goes on. In the meantime, all those websites in the links I provided are currently working fine (as of January 2017).

This is a real shame. With a national and international reach that this technology serves, Craigslist should be embracing it, not shutting it down. Something like this could turn Craigslist into the next eBay.

Patrick Roland, December 6, 2017

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