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Google Timeline Knows Where You Have Been

December 16, 2015

We understand that to get the most out of the Internet, we sacrifice a bit of privacy; but do we all understand how far-reaching that sacrifice can be? The Intercept reveals “How Law Enforcement Can Use Google Timeline to Track Your Every Move.” For those who were not aware, Google helpfully stores all the places you (or your devices) have traveled, down to longitude and latitude, in Timeline. Now, with an expansion launched in July 2015, that information goes back years, instead of just six months. Android users must actively turn this feature off to avoid being tracked.

The article cites a report titled “Google Timelines: Location Investigations Involving Android Devices.” Written by a law-enforcement trainer, the report is a tool for investigators. To be fair, the document does give a brief nod to privacy concerns; at the same time, it calls it “unfortunate” that Google allows users to easily delete entries in their Timelines. Reporter Jana Winter writes:

“The 15-page document includes what information its author, an expert in mobile phone investigations, found being stored in his own Timeline: historic location data — extremely specific data — dating back to 2009, the first year he owned a phone with an Android operating system. Those six years of data, he writes, show the kind of information that law enforcement investigators can now obtain from Google….

“The ability of law enforcement to obtain data stored with privacy companies is similar — whether it’s in Dropbox or iCloud. What’s different about Google Timeline, however, is that it potentially allows law enforcement to access a treasure trove of data about someone’s individual movement over the course of years.”

For its part, Google admits they “respond to valid legal requests,” but insists the bar is high; a simple subpoena has never been enough, they insist. That is some comfort, I suppose.

Cynthia Murrell, December 16, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Search and Apps: A Surprising Infographic

December 1, 2015

Let’s assume that the data in “A Survival Toolkit for the Planet of the Apps” is spot on. I draw this conclusion because the write up has a title which tickled by funny bone. Yep, I have one. One.

I did not know that 27 percent of mobile apps are located via a search engine. A surprising 52 percent are found via referrals. And the much maligned Web site pitching app? The company Web site sparks 24 percent of the app action.

The data appear in this graphic:

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Apps are, it seems, the go to way to close deals. However, for apps which focus on selling things to consumer. The write up reports that 38 percent of the folks installing an app to buy something, uninstall the app once the product is ordered.

What does this mean for outfits like the Google? The in app search function will be useful, but the old fashioned Web site cannot be kicked to the curb yet.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2015

Latest Global Internet Report Available

October 30, 2015

The Internet Society has made available its “Global Internet Report 2015,” just the second in its series. World-wide champions of a free and open Internet, the society examines mobile Internet usage patterns around the globe. The report’s Introduction explains:

“We focus this year’s report on the mobile Internet for two reasons. First, as with mobile telephony, the mobile Internet does not just liberate us from the constraints of a wired connection, but it offers hundreds of millions around the world their only, or primary, means of accessing the Internet. Second, the mobile Internet does not just extend the reach of the Internet as used on fixed connections, but it offers new functionality in combination with new portable access devices.”

It continues with this important warning:

“The nature of the Internet should remain collaborative and inclusive, regardless of changing means of access. In particular, the mobile Internet should remain open, to enable the permission-less innovation that has driven the continuous growth and evolution of the Internet to date, including the emergence of the mobile Internet itself.”

Through the report’s landing page, above, you can navigate to the above-cited Introduction, the report’s Executive Summary, and Section 2: Trends and Growth. There is even an interactive mobile Internet timeline. Scroll to the bottom to download the full report, in PDF, Kindle, or ePub formats. The download is free, but those interested can donate to the organization here.

Cynthia Murrell, October 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The State Department Delves into Social Media

October 13, 2015

People and companies that want to increase a form of communication between people create social media platforms.  Facebook was invented to take advantage of the digital real-time environment to keep people in contact and form a web of contacts.  Twitter was founded for a more quick and instantaneous form of communication based on short one hundred forty character blurbs.  Instagram shares pictures and Pinterest connects ideas via pictures and related topics.  Using analytics, the social media companies and other organizations collect data on users and use that information to sell products and services as well as understanding the types of users on each platform.

Social media contains a variety of data that can benefit not only private companies, but the government agencies as well.  According to GCN, the “State Starts Development On Social Media And Analytics Platform” to collaborate and contribute in real-time to schedule and publish across many social media platforms and it will also be mobile-enabled.  The platform will also be used to track analytics on social media:

“For analytics, the system will analyze sentiment, track trending social media topics, aggregate location and demographic information, rank of top multimedia content, identify influencers on social media and produce automated and customizable reports.”

The platform will support twenty users and track thirty million mentions each year.  The purpose behind the social media and analytics platform is still vague, but the federal government has proven to be behind in understanding and development of modern technology.  This appears to be a step forward to upgrade itself, so it does not get left behind.  But a social media platform that analyzes data should have been implemented years ago at the start of this big data phenomenon.

Whitney Grace, October 13, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Compare Cell Phone Usage in Various Cities

October 8, 2015

Ever wonder how cell phone usage varies around the globe? Gizmodo reports on a tool that can tell us, called ManyCities, in their article, “This Website Lets You Study Cell Phone Use in Cities Around the World.” The project is a team effort from MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory and networking firm Ericsson. Writer Jamie Condliffe tells us that ManyCities:

“…compiles mobile phone data — such as text message traffic, number of phone calls, and the amount of data downloaded —from base stations in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Hong Kong between April 2013 and January 2014. It’s all anonymised, so there’s no sensitive information on display, but there is enough data to understand usage patterns, even down the scale of small neighbourhoods. What’s nice about the site is that there are plenty of intuitive interpretations of the data available from the get-go. So, you can see how phone use varies geographically, say, or by time, spotting the general upward trend in data use or how holidays affect the number of phone calls. And then you can dig deeper, to compare data use over time between different neighbourhoods or cities: like, how does the number of texts sent in Hong Kong compare to New York? (It peaks in Hong Kong in the morning, but in the evening in New York, by the way.)”

The software includes some tools that go a little further, as well; users can cluster areas by usage patterns or incorporate demographic data. Condliffe notes that this information could help with a lot of tasks; forecasting activity and demand, for example. If only it were available in real time, he laments, though he predicts that will happen soon. Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, October 8, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Legacy Servers: Upgrade Excitement

October 2, 2015

Enterprise management systems (ECM) were supposed to provide an end all solution for storing and organizing digital data.  Data needs to be stored for several purposes: taxes, historical record, research, and audits.  Government agencies deployed ECM solutions to manage their huge data loads, but the old information silos are not performing up to modern standards.  GCN discusses government agencies face upgrading their systems in “Migrating Your Legacy ECM Solution.”

When ECMs first came online, information was stored in silos programmed to support even older legacy solutions with niche applications.  The repositories are so convoluted that users cannot find any information and do not even mention upgrading the beasts:

“Aging ECM systems are incapable of fitting into the new world of consumer-friendly software that both employees and citizens expect.  Yet, modernizing legacy systems raises issues of security, cost, governance and complexity of business rules  — all obstacles to a smooth transition.  Further, legacy systems simply cannot keep up with the demands of today’s dynamic workforce.”

Two solutions present themselves: data can be moved from an old legacy system to a new one or simply moving the content from the silo.  The barriers are cost and time, but the users will reap the benefits of upgrades, especially connectivity, cloud, mobile, and social features.  There is the possibility of leaving the content in place using interoperability standards or cloud-based management to make the data searchable and accessible.

The biggest problem is actually convincing people to upgrade.  Why fix what is not broken?  Then there is the justification of using taxpayers’ money for the upgrade when the money can be used elsewhere.  Round and round the argument goes.

Whitney Grace, October 2, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

NTENT Has a New CEO

September 29, 2015

NTENT is a leading natural language processing and semantic search company, that owns the Convera technology, and according to Business Wire Dan Stickel was hired as the new CEO, says “NTENT Appoints Dan Stickel As New CEO.”  NTENT is focused on expanding the company with AltaVista and Google.  Using Stickel’s experience, NTENT has big plans and is sure that Stickel will lead the company to success.

“CEO, Stickel’s first objective will be to prioritize NTENT’s planned expansion along geographic, market and technology dimensions. ‘After spending significant time with NTENT’s Board, management team and front-line employees, I’m excited by the company’s opportunities and by the foundation that’s already been laid in both traditional web and newer mobile capabilities. NTENT has clearly built some world-class technology, and is now scaling that out with customers and partners.’”

In his past positions as CEO at Metaforic and Webtrends s well as head of the enterprise business at AltaVista and software business at Macrovision, Stickel has transitioned companies to become the leaders in their respective industries.

The demand for natural language processing software and incorporating it into semantic search is one of the biggest IT trends at the moment.  The field is demanding innovation and NTENT believes Stickel will guide them.

Whitney Grace, September 29, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Changing Data Pattern: Voice Versus Data

September 25, 2015

Short honk: I read Akamai’s State of the Internet. You can get your copy by going through some registration hoops at this Akamai link. Useful information; for example, one chart suggested some downstream consequences of the shift to mobile devices. The data come from Ericsson, so other analyses may differ. Here’s the chart:

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Online advertisers will have to put on their thinking cap when it comes to marketing to the mobile dependent folks.

Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2015

Social Consensus: Control Becomes a Big Thing

September 13, 2015

I read “The Cable Industry Faces the Perfect Storm: Apps, App Stores, and Apple.” I think the idea is a valid one. I am not sure about the Apple thing.

Let’s go to the Web page. (Shades of Warner Wolfe.)

The write up states:

the average US consumer is spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV. Please note that the 198 minutes per day spent inside apps on smart phones and tablets don’t include time spent in the mobile browser. In fact, if we add that time, the total time spent on mobile devices by the average US consumer is now 220 minutes (or 3 hours and 40 minutes) per day…

In the good old days, people were supposed to be watching the fire burn in their caves. Then folks listened to Jack Benny on Sunday night. When I was a wee lad, we had a black and white television which sort of worked. My progeny had color TV to watch. Today lots of people look at tiny screens and checking Facebook or looking for pizza via Google or Alphabet or whatever the company is.

Bad news for cable companies it seems.

Forget the cable folks. My view is that the bad news is what I call the consensus problem. Shared experiences are blockbusters in the James Twitchell sense of the word in Adcult USA.

Cohesiveness comes from the Super Bowl and similar constructs. The implications of this tiny screen shift are significant. Losers will be the organizations constructed to serve the mass markets of mass media.

Apple, bless its innovative heart, makes gizmos. The powerhouses are the outfits which deliver micro-content and micro-experiences to the OreIda’s walking around or sitting in coffee shops with their mobile devices.

Search and retrieval? A loser. Sustained concentration? A loser. Consensus? Interesting about that.

Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2015

Quote to Note: Google Friction in Happy Ad Land

September 9, 2015

Tucked into the business section of the September 7, 2015 New York Times was a story with the not too SEO friendly title “Competitors Say Google Is Slowing App Installation.” The write up is not indexed in Google News. I just checked.

The short item talks about mobile ads for apps. The article recycles a Google blog post which  talks about penalizing “please, install our app” ads. Yikes. Penalties.

But for me the important item in the article was this quote, attributed to a Xoogler named Mike Dudas. He said:

This seems like a really strong move in deterring people from installing apps.

Ah, freedom. I too enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning. Wait. I have a question? Who is the enemy? Android centric developers? Do I hear the thump thump of choppers?

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2015

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