CyberOSINT banner

Venture Backed Search Vendors Face Exciting 2016

February 12, 2016

I read “The State of Venture Capital.” I thought, “Oh, ho, here comes the tightening of the thumbscrews. The idea is simple. Insert fingers and turn the crank. My hunch is that the device will focus the attention of person whose fingers are in the business end of the gizmo.

In the write up, I learned that in the next two years, folks should expect:

  • Increased loss ratios
  • Most flat rounds
  • More down rounds
  • More structured rounds
  • Relatively harder to raise capital
  • VCs marking-to-market showing some movements south

I like the reference to the movement south.

How does this relate to the search and content processing outfits which have sucked in tens of millions in venture funding? Three items for which I will be watching:

  • More market repositioning. Think predictive analytics, data lakes, cloud solutions, and artificial intelligence. Talk is cheap. If talk generates a license deal, that’s the upside.
  • Downsizing. I know that growth is all the rage, but I think that some vendors will have no choice except cutting back on expenses. Full time hires become contract workers. Trade show participation becomes a webinar which is archived and the promoted as a resource.
  • Dance card shuffling. In an effort to generate leads and from the leads some real license deals, companies will join up. Others will departner and find another entity with which to dance.

Which search vendors will survive? The last big shake out winnowed the likes of Convera, Delphes, Entopia, and Siderean. The acquisition boomlet moved Autonomy, Exalead, ISYS Search, and Vivisimo into the safe havens of larger organization. Who will buy today’s market leaders? Other vendors will have no choice but go quiet. The last time I checked Dieselpoint it was still in business. Sophia Search? Intrafind? X1?

Which company is the next Autonomy? Elastic, Recommind, IBM Watson?

My view is that 2016 will be exciting for some folks.

Stephen  E Arnold, February 12, 2016

Facebook Faces French Frippery

February 12, 2016

Facebook and its privacy and information policies are under scrutiny in France. Unlike the US and other countries, French regulators can be a frisky bunch. I recall an incident involving a certain Russian who operated in an interesting manner. If recollection serves, the French authorities kept pecking and pecking and finally chewed the feet off the alleged wrong doer. Persistence and institutional coordination are different in the land of more than 200 types of cheese.

French Data Privacy Regulator Cracks down on Facebook” reports that the social media outfit has 90 days to “stop tracking non users’ Web activity without their consent.”

This begs the question, “Then what?”

Two things. France will cheerlead for actions against Facebook from its EC colleagues.

Plus the French bureaucracy, the outfit which “invented red tape,” will swing into action. This is often not a good thing. I recall a French born French citizen who had to display her great grandfather’s medal of honor to clear up a citizenship inquiry. The nifty part of this anecdote is that a letter from the president of France to her grandfather was not enough. The picture verified that the grandfather and the French president were shaking hands at the award ceremony. That’s bureaucratic attentiveness in action.

Facebook faces French friskiness in the institutional playground. At least, lunches are usually pretty good. That’s a benefit for the legal eagles who will flock to answer the “then what?” question.

Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2016

Xoogler to Xoogler: AOL Yahoo Strange Force

February 12, 2016

I read “Verizon Said to Enlist AOL CEO Armstrong to Explore Yahoo Deal.” The write up told me:

Verizon is looking to make its go90 streaming video service a source of new sales and profit. Yahoo, with more than 1 billion people using its e-mail, finance, sports and video sites, represents a prized asset to combine with AOL’s 2 million users and Verizon’s more than 112 million wireless subscribers. That kind of Web traffic, along with exclusive content, is just what Verizon needs to secure a foothold in video advertising against YouTube and Facebook serving a mobile phone-addicted generation.

Assume that this Xoogler to Xoogler force exists. My view is that Yahoo, like AOL, is an example of a once viable business. But now Yahoo can only exist as a tail fin or new set of rims for a larger vehicle.

Assume that Yahoo, like AOL, is an add on to a company with some Bell headism in its DNA. What companies will step forward to acquire more after market parts for their revenue vehicle?

As the economic squeeze persists, there will be more doodads and fandangles in the parts depot than buyers. A buyers’ market is under construction.

Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2016

Dark Web Crime Has Its Limits

February 12, 2016

The Dark Web is an intriguing and mysterious phenomenon, but rumors about what can be found there are exaggerated. Infomania examines what is and what is not readily available in that murky realm in, “Murder-for-Hire on the Dark Web? It Can’t Be True!

Anonymity is the key factor in whether certain types of criminals hang out their shingles on the TOR network. Crimes that can be more easily committed without risking identification include drug trafficking, fraud, and information leaks.  On the other hand, contract assassins, torture-as-entertainment, and human trafficking are not actually to be found, despite reports to the contrary. See the article for details on each of these, and more. The article cites independent researcher Chris Monteiro as it summarizes:

The dark web is rife with cyber crime. But it’s more rampant with sensationalized myths about assassination and torture schemes — which, as Chris can attest, simply aren’t true. “What’s interesting is so much of the coverage of these scam sites is taken at face value. Like, ‘There is a website. Therefore its contents must be true.’ Even when mainstream media picks it up, very few pick it up skeptically,” he says.

Take the Assassination Market, for example. When news outlets got wind of its alleged existence in 2013, they ran with the idea of “Murder-for-hire!!” on the Internet underground. Although Chris has finally demonstrated that these sites are not real, their legend lives on in Internet folklore. “Talking about the facts — this is how cybercrime works, this is how Tor and Bitcoin work — is a lot less sexy than saying, ‘If you click on the wrong link, you’ll be kidnapped, and you’ll end up in a room where you’ll be livestreamed, murdered, and you’re all over the internet!’” Chris says. “All I can do is point out what’s proven and what isn’t.”

So, next time someone spins a scary tale about killers-for-hire who are easily found online, you can point them to this article. Yes, drug trafficking, stolen data, and other infractions are big problems associated with the Dark Web, but let us not jump at shadows.

 

Cynthia Murrell, February 12, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Barry Zane and SPARQL City Acquired by Cambridge Semantics for Graph Technology

February 12, 2016

The article titled Cambridge Semantics Acquires SPARQL City’s IP, Expanding Offering of Graph-Cased Analytics at Big Data Scale on Business Wire discusses the benefits of merging Cambridge’s Semantics’ Anzo Smart Data Platform with SPARQL City’s graph analysis capacities. The article specifically mentions the pharmaceutical industry, financial services, and homeland security as major business areas that this partnership will directly engage due to the enhanced data analysis and graph technologies now possible.

“We believe this IP acquisition is a game-changer for big data analytics and smart data discovery,” said Chuck Pieper, CEO of Cambridge Semantics. “When coupled with our Anzo Smart Data Platform, no one else in the market can provide a similar end-to-end, semantic- and graph-based solution providing for data integration, data management and advanced analytics at the scale, context and speed that meets the needs of enterprises. The SPARQL City in-memory graph query engine allows users to conduct exploratory analytics at big data scale interactively.”

Barry Zane, a leader in database analytics with 40 years experience and CEO and founder of SPARQL City, will become the VP of Engineering at Cambridge Semantics. He mentions in the article that this acquisition has been a long time coming, with the two companies working together over the last two years.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, February 12, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Data Lake: Batch Job Dipping Only

February 11, 2016

I love the Hadoop data lake concept. I live in a mostly real time world. The “batch” approach reminds me of my first exposure to computing in 1962. Real time? Give me a break. Hadoop reminded me of those early days. Fun. Standing on line. Waiting and waiting.

I read “Data Lake: Save Me More Money vs. Make Me More Money.” The article strikes me as a conference presentation illustrated with a deck of PowerPoint goodies.

One of the visuals was a modern big data analytics environment. I have seen a number of representations of today’s big data yadda yadda set ups. Here’s the EMC take on the modernity:

image

Straight away, I note the “all” word. Yep, just put the categorical affirmative into a Hadoop data lake. Don’t forget the video, the wonky stuff in the graphics department, the engineering drawings, and the most recent version of the merger documents requested by a team of government investigators, attorneys, and a pesky solicitor from some small European Community committee. “All” means all, right?

Then there are two “environments”. Okay, a data lake can have ecosystems, so the word environment is okay for flora and fauna. I think the notion is to build two separate analytic subsystems. Interesting approach, but there are platforms which offer applications to handle most of the data slap about work. Why not license one of those; for example, Palantir, Recorded Future?

And that’s it?

Well, no. The write up states that the approach will “save me more money.” In fact, one does not need much more:

The savings from these “Save me more money” activities can be nice with a Return on Investment (ROI) typically in the 10% to 20% range. But if organizations stop there, then they are leaving the 5x to 10x ROI projects on the table. Do I have your attention now?

My answer, “No, no, you do not.”

Stephen E Arnold, February

Dark Web Size

February 11, 2016

I read “Researchers Index Dark Web, Find Most of It Contains Illegal Material.” The data come from researcher at a UK university. Here’s the Dark Web page count data:

5,205 live websites were indexed; a total of 2,723 pages were classified by content. Pages with fewer than 50 words and those with no content were dropped in the “none” category. According to the analysis, 57% of the sites hosted illicit content like drugs … The Tor project estimates there are about 35,000 total hidden services active, so this is far from a full survey, but enough to be a representative sample.

Interesting, but the headline suggests a far more comprehensive index.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2016

Google Aims Beyond Search

February 11, 2016

I read “Alphabet’s Google: Looking Forward at a Future Beyond Search.” For a moment, I thought Google was going to ignore this blog. After reading the article, I breathed a sigh of relief. The Alphabet Google thing wants to diversify its revenue stream. I also concluded that Google wants to eliminate a human’s annoying habit of running queries the human thinks are important to the human. Pesky humans!

The write up reveals:

Google’s attempt at switching from traditional search queries to streaming other apps right within their search app can be interpreted both as Google’s drive towards the future and a sure indication that the current ads model is crumbling. The pressing need to innovate is further instigated by the arrival of companies like InMobi who have a dedicated mobile only strategy and Google’s closest competitor Facebook who seem to be heading towards contextual ads with their Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms.

The write up is enthusiastic about Google’s money losing bets on the future. I learned:

The big question which remains to be answered is if Google can innovate fast enough to remain relevant in the search industry and fund one of its moonshot projects into a major revenue source. And if this quarter is any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Yep, but I want to think up my own queries. I also do not want ads displacing substantive information. I want to be a semi sentient human no matter how much the Alphabet Google thing wants to put me in a self driving car so I can be exposed to information that someone else wants me to view.

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2016

To Search the Dark Web

February 11, 2016

If you have wondered how, exactly, one searches for information on the Dark Web, take a gander at “The Best TOR Search Engines of 2016” at Cyberwarzone. Reporter CWZ writes:

“On the TOR network you can find various websites just like you find on the ‘normal web.’ The websites which are hosted on the TOR network are not indexed by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, but the search engines which are listed below, do index the TOR websites which are hosted via the TOR network. It is important to remember that you do need the TOR client on your device in order to access the TOR network, if you cannot use a TOR client on your device, you can use one of the free TOR gateways which are listed below in the web TOR providers tab.”

The article warns about malicious TOR clients, and strongly suggests readers download the client found at the official TOR website. Four search engines are listed— https://Ahmia.fi,  https://Onion.cab, https://onion.link/, and http://thehiddenwiki.org/.  CWZ also lists those  Web TOR gateways, through which one can connect to TOR services with a standard Web browser instead of using a TOR client. See the end of the article for that information.

 

Cynthia Murrell, February 11, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

AI Startups Use Advanced AI Technology to Improve Daily Chores

February 11, 2016

The article on e27 titled 5 Asian Artificial Intelligence Startups that Caught Our Eye lists several exciting new companies working to unleash AI technology, often for quotidian tasks. For example, Arya.ai provides for speeder and more productive decision-making, while Mad Street Den and Niki.ai offers AI shopping support! The article goes into detail about the latter,

“Niki understands human language in the context of products and services that a consumer would like to purchase, guides her along with recommendations to find the right service and completes the purchase with in-chat payment. It performs end-to-end transactions on recharge, cab booking and bill payments at present, but Niki plans to add more services including bus booking, food ordering, movie ticketing, among others.”

Mad Street Den, on the other hand, is more focused on  object recognition. Users input an image and the AI platform seeks matches on e-commerce sites. Marketers will be excited to hear about Appier, a Taiwan-based business offering cross-screen insights, or in layman’s terms, they can link separate devices belonging to one person and also estimate how users switch devices during the day and what each device will be used for. These capabilities allow marketers to make targeted ads for each device, and a better understanding of who will see what and via which device.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, February 11, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Next Page »