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Google Altered Search Results?!  

April 8, 2015

If you know anything about search results, search engine optimization, and search algorithms, you probably wondered if Google ever changed its search results so they would be favor one search result over another.  Google already alters results with Google AdWords, the Right to Forgotten, and removing results if they break rules.

The FTC revealed via The Wall Street Journal that Google has been altering its search results for profit: “Inside The US Antitrust Probe Of Google.”  The FTC found that Google was using its monopoly on search to harm Internet users and its rivals.  FTC recommended a lawsuit be brought against Google for three of its practices.  The FTC voted to end the investigation in 2013, which is strange, but they did so because they had competing recommendations.

Google continues to stand by its own innocence, citing that the case closed two years ago and that people continue to use its services.  There is one big thing that the Wall Street Journal points out:

“On one issue—whether Google used anticompetitive tactics for its search engine—the competition staff recommended against a lawsuit, although it said Google’s actions resulted in “significant harm” to rivals. In three other areas, the report found evidence the company used its monopoly behavior to help its own business and hurt its rivals.”

Can this be considered part of their “do not evil” bylaw?

Whitney Grace, April 8, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Cyber Wizards Speak Publishes Exclusive BrightPlanet Interview with William Bushee

April 7, 2015

Cyber OSINT continues to reshape information access. Traditional keyword search has been supplanted by higher value functions. One of the keystones for systems that push “beyond search” is technology patented and commercialized by BrightPlanet.

A search on Google often returns irrelevant or stale results. How can an organization obtain access to current, in-depth information from Web sites and services not comprehensively indexed by Bing, Google, ISeek, or Yandex?

The answer to the question is to turn to the leader in content harvesting, BrightPlanet. The company was one of the first, if not the first, to develop systems and methods for indexing information ignored by Web indexes which follow links. Founded in 2001, BrightPlanet has emerged as a content processing firm able to make accessible structured and unstructured data ignored, skipped, or not indexed by Bing, Google, and Yandex.

In the BrightPlanet seminar open to law enforcement, intelligence, and security professionals, BrightPlanet said the phrase “Deep Web” is catchy but it does not explain what type of information is available to a person with a Web browser. A familiar example is querying a dynamic database, like an airline for its flight schedule. Other types of “Deep Web” content may require the user to register. Once logged into the system, users can query the content available to a registered user. A service like Bitpipe requires registration and a user name and password each time I want to pull a white paper from the Bitpipe system. BrightPlanet can handle both types of indexing tasks and many more. BrightPlanet’s technology is used by governmental agencies, businesses, and service firms to gather information pertinent to people, places, events, and other topics

In an exclusive interview, William Bushee, the chief executive officer at BrightPlanet, reveals the origins of the BrightPlanet approach. He told Cyber Wizards Speak:

I developed our initial harvest engine. At the time, little work was being done around harvesting. We filed for a number of US Patents applications for our unique systems and methods. We were awarded eight, primarily around the ability to conduct Deep Web harvesting, a term BrightPlanet coined.

The BrightPlanet system is available as a cloud service. Bushee noted:

We have migrated from an on-site license model to a SaaS [software as a service] model. However, the biggest change came after realizing we could not put our customers in charge of conducting their own harvests. We thought we could build the tools and train the customers, but it just didn’t work well at all. We now harvest content on our customers’ behalf for virtually all projects and it has made a huge difference in data quality. And, as I mentioned, we provide supporting engineering and technical services to our clients as required. Underneath, however, we are the same sharply focused, customer centric, technology operation.

The company also offers data as a service. Bushee explained:

We’ve seen many of our customers use our Data-as-a-Service model to increase revenue and customer share by adding new datasets to their current products and service offerings. These additional datasets develop new revenue streams for our customers and allow them to stay competitive maintaining existing customers and gaining new ones altogether. Our Data-as-a-Service offering saves time and money because our customers no longer have to invest development hours into maintaining data harvesting and collection projects internally. Instead, they can access our harvesting technology completely as a service.

The company has accelerated its growth through a partnering program. Bushee stated:

We have partnered with K2 Intelligence to offer a full end-to-end service to financial institutions, combining our harvest and enrichment services with additional analytic engines and K2’s existing team of analysts. Our product offering will be a service monitoring various Deep Web and Dark Web content enriched with other internal data to provide a complete early warning system for institutions.

BrightPlanet has emerged as an excellent resource to specialized content services. In addition to providing a client-defined collection of information, the firm can provide custom-tailored solutions to special content needs involving the Deep Web and specialized content services. The company has an excellent reputation among law enforcement, intelligence, and security professionals. The BrightPlanet technologies can generate a stream of real-time content to individuals, work groups, or other automated systems.

BrightPlanet has offices in Washington, DC, and can be contacted via the BrightPlanet Web site

The complete interview is available at the Cyber Wizards Speak web site at

Stephen E Arnold, April 7, 2015

Blog: Frozen site: Current site:


Microsoft Veteran Transitioning to New Role

April 7, 2015

Chris Jones, a veteran with Microsoft since 1991, is transitioning to a new role within the organization. Jones is the former head of the OneDrive and SharePoint teams. Microsoft has been making many announcements regarding changes with SharePoint lately, including the impending release of SharePoint 2016. Read more in the ZDNet article, “Microsoft’s OneDrive, SharePoint Chief to Take on a New Role.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft veteran Chris Jones, the current head of the OneDrive and SharePoint businesses at the company, will be transitioning to a new job in Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group (ASG) later this year. Jones, who has been at Microsoft since 1991, will be passing the Corporate Vice President torch to Phil Smoot, another Microsoft veteran who has worked on the Hotmail and Azure Storage businesses.”

To stay apprised of all the latest SharePoint news and developments, keep a close eye on Steven E. Arnold’s Web site, Arnold is a longtime search expert and operates a dedicated SharePoint feed on his Web site. Changes within SharePoint’s highest management could indicate additional directional changes that may affect customers. Stay tuned.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 7, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at


IBM: Unrest from Stakeholders

April 6, 2015

I supposed IBM’s senior management is consulting Watson for answers to its stakeholders’ rising impatience with the $100 billion technology services company.

I read “Exclusive: IBM Hires Advisers to Deal with Restless Investors.” IBM has been touting its billion dollar investments in initiatives that are supposed to get the company back on a growth track. Layoffs, stock buy backs, and missed financial targets have not had the desired effect, if the Reuters write up is on the money.

The article reports:

International Business Machines Corp is concerned about a possible attack by prominent activist hedge funds, and is working with two investment banks to formulate a defense plan, according to the people, who declined to be identified.

IBM has some significant problems. I want to point my aged finger at the crazy assertions made for Watson, but I shall sidestep that new product Zircon.

The write up highlights a deeper, far more significant problem:

Part of the activist funds’ concern was that IBM, whose stock is trading at around $159, is too expensive and the company’s structural problems could not be fixed easily, according to several sources.

Structural problems. No kidding.

My hunch is that stakeholders, employees, partners, and retirees are going to become increasingly agitated.

What I find interesting is that there are no easy answers from Watson or any other source. My question is, “Why has it taken so long for activists to tackle their IBM problem head on?”

Perhaps these folks did ask Watson and did not like the answer they received. What works for a TV game show does not seem to work in the non TV world.

Stephen E Arnold, April 6, 2015

Hidden Value Oxymoron: Another Me Too Webinar?

April 2, 2015

Look what I received in my email on April Fool’s Day.


I know zero about direct marketing. It did cross my mind that when sending out content marketing spam, one should make sure the message does not appear as a spoof. “Hidden value.” Okay.

I also wondered why IDC and BA Insight would want me to attend a webinar when I have been an outspoken critic of webinars and mid tier consulting companies recycle my content without bothering to issue a contract, pay for rights, or make sure I am okay with the pricing and the method of selling. I don’t want my content on Amazon, a company focused on offering one button ordering of laundry detergent, thank you.

Mid tier consultancies and their experts are another kettle of fish from an unregistered trawler operating near Samut Sakhon, Thailand.

This buzzword filled marketing spam is an invitation to yet another advertising webinar. The company footing the bill is BA Insight, which is one of the SharePoint centric search vendors working to generate sufficient revenue to keep its stakeholders calm and carrying on. The best way to achieve sales, it appears, is to pay IDC’s “search expert” to explain the value of hidden information. Oh, yes. The value of hidden information. There is gold in them thar hills.

If you are not familiar with IDC and information, may I point you to this item about IDC’s Dave Schubmehl. You may also find this article mildly amusing: Meme of the Moment.

Keep in mind when you listen to this infomercial that IDC and Mr. Schubmehl sold my content on Amazon without my permission. I buy from Amazon. I don’t sell via Amazon. My legal eagle managed to get the $3,500 eight page document out of the Amazon store. I make my information somewhat more affordable. CyberOSINT is only $99 with the offer code LEA99. That’s a good price for an original chunk of work. The Amazon $3,500 eight page item is, even with my name on it, a pretty crazy play for cash. Maybe an adventuresome five year old might fall for the $3,500 price tag. I would not.

How much of the information in this BA Insight infomercial will be recycled? How much of the information will be of “value”? Well, sign up and drink deep of the Pierian spring.

Remember: If products are not advertised, products may not sell. If products do not sell, there is no money to pay back investors keeping outfits in business. Without business, the mid tier consultants will get fired. Money is what’s important.

Value? Hmm. Good question when experts who use other individuals’ information are the “talent” on a Web infused late night infomercial. Why not hire Guthy Renker and get the job done in a manner that can be measured. Talk about value is not value. Remember. Eight pages of stuff with my name on it was only $3,500.

Such a deal. Ah, the power of presumptive management and challenged search vendors. Why not invite me. I just love this content marketing, webinar, value, best practice fluff.

Note: I almost wrote, “Don’t fail to miss it.” I did not.

Stephen E Arnold, April 2, 2015

The Clever Folks at Yale Remind Us We Are Not Clever

April 1, 2015

Years ago I gave a lecture at Yale University. Very interesting experience. Everyone in the audience knew what was in my monographs about Google. Incredible. I thought I had gathered original information. Well, did I learn how dumb I was. Invigorating.

I read with an eye on the April Fool’s notation on my calendar “Yale Study: You’re Not as Clever As Your Googling Suggests.” I must admit that after I learned I was hopelessly stupid after my lecture, I knew this.

According to the write up:

Yale psychology professor Frank Keil argues that having the internet’s vast resources at your fingertips causes people to confuse their internal knowledge base (what they personally know) with their external knowledge base (knowing where to find the information they need). In short, it acts as a sort of cognitive opiate, convincing people they know more than they do even when the search results come up empty.

Yes. Proof. Not must the attitude of my audience nor their somewhat snarky questions at the meet and mingle, now there is proof.

Isn’t it wonderful to have confirmation that you, like me, are stupider than we knew.

Stephen E Arnold, April 1, 2015

HP: Caveat Venditor Becomes the Company Slogan

March 31, 2015

[I was going to post this on April Fool’s Day. But I thought that some of my very small audience would think I was posting a joke. This is no joke, I fear.]

I am not sure my high school Latin is working, but I think I am close. You know the phrase, Caveat emptor. My view is that Hewlett Packard’s new slogan is, “Seller beware” or caveat venditor in my version of the dead language.

Navigate to “HP Sues Autonomy Co-Founder Lynch in U.K. for $5.1 Billion.” The write up reports:

Hewlett-Packard Co. escalated its more than two-year-old battle with Michael Lynch, suing the Autonomy Corp. co-founder, as well as a former chief financial officer, for $5.1 billion. Hewlett-Packard has maintained that before it agreed to buy the Cambridge, England-based software company for $10 billion in 2011, Lynch and other managers gave an overly optimistic representation of its financial health.

There you go. Let me get this straight. HP decided to buy something. That something triggered much work by HP executives and its consultants. The something became Autonomy. More analyses and conversations ensued.

HP believes that the sellers (Dr. Mike Lynch and his senior managers) did the Norman Vincent Peale thing to sway the $100 billion corporation. You remember. The Power of Positive Thinking. I assume Dr. Lynch and his team did the normal sales pitch complete with diagrams, buzzwords, and lots of upbeat comments about the market opportunity, the IDOL and DRE technology, and the future for smart software. Most of the pitches I have heard in my 50 year business career are more marketing than verifiable facts. Buyers want to buy. Sellers want to sell. Sellers usually have a tough time forcing a buyer to buy unless the situation takes place in a Netflix entertainment experience.

false advertising

A happy quack to

The article points out:

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office in January dropped its probe into the takeover after finding “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction,” the agency said at the time. The U.S. Department of Justice is still investigating, and the SFO said it gave its files to the U.S. authorities. The U.K. accounting regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, is still looking into the matter. The fight has been played out in the open on both sides of the Atlantic, with Lynch posting comments and documents on his blog and Hewlett-Packard aligning with shareholders to pursue Lynch and Hussain in court.

Okay. The SFO seems to okay with the deal. FRC is still analyzing.

The winner is going to be the law firms working on this matter. From my point of view, HP bought Autonomy. Dr. Lynch sold Autonomy. As far as I know, Dr. Lynch did not use direct or implied threats to cause the deal to occur. HP, managed by adults, made a decision.

Now, years and billions later, HP is going to “prove” that a known technology wizard with a strong marketing sense fooled a multi-billion dollar company, its handpicked team of managers and analysts, and legions of brains for hire folks.

I know Dr. Lynch is good. I did not know he was a magician and hypnotist.

Fascinating but HP has to do something in addition to splitting its company in two, ignoring the threat posed by Amazon and its ilk, the absence of management wisdom, and the uncertain market into which HP knowingly jumped.

I wonder if HP will take a look in the mirror and wonder what business message the company is sending. Auto dealers in Palo Alto are probably wondering if they are next to be sued. Every auto salesperson with whom I interacted stresses the positive. I, when the buyer, have to do my homework and understand the facts about a purchase BEFORE signing the deal and forking over hard cash.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2015

HP Vertica and IDOL: Just Three Short Plus Years in the Making

March 31, 2015

I read an article from the outfit that relies on folks like Dave Schubmehl for expertise. The write up is “HP Links Vertica and IDOL Seeking Better Unstructured Data Analysis.” But I quite like the subtitle because it provides a timeline; to wit:

The company built a connector server for the products, which it acquired separately in 2011.

Let’s see that is just about three years plus a few months. The story reminded me of Rip Van Winkle who woke to a different world when he emerged from his slumber. The Sleepy Hollow could be a large technology company in the act of performing mitosis in order to generate [a] excitement, [b] money, and [c] the appearance of progress. I wonder if the digital Sleepy Hollow is located near Hanover Street? I will have to investigate that parallel.

What’s a few years of intellectual effort in a research “cave” when you are integrating software that is expected to generate billions of dollars in sales. Existing Vertica and Autonomy licensees are probably dancing in the streets.

The write up states:

Promising more thorough and timelier data analysis, Hewlett-Packard has released a software package that combines the company’s Vertica database with its IDOL data analysis platform. The HP Haven Connector Framework Server may allow organizations to study data sets that were too large or unwieldy to analyze before. The package provides “a mixture of statistical and contextual understanding,” of data, said Jeff Veis, HP vice president of marketing for big data. “You can pull in any form of data, and then do real-time high performance analysis.”

Hmm. “Promising” and “may allow” are interesting words and phrases. It seems as if the employer of Mr. Schubmehl is hedging on the HP assertions. I wonder, “Why?”

Read more

Remotely Search Your Files

March 28, 2015

While it is a pain having to switch between apps to complete tasks, it is an even bigger pain trying to securely search your laptop or desktop computer for files using your mobile device. Sure, there are cloud storage services and the ability to log into your computer via remote Web apps. The problem still remains that you have to log on and connect with your computer. X1 Mobile Search takes off that problem and TechWorld has an oldie, but a good review on the app: “X1 Mobile Search Review.”

For a mere fifteen dollars, you download the X1 Mobile Search app on your computer and mobile device and then you can not only search for your files, but also edit them from within the app. It sounds too good to be true, but the X1 works. The application must be downloaded on both devices and connected to the Internet.

TechWorld says the mobile device is a worthy investment:

“Unlike some other programs that allow you to share files between mobile devices and PC and Macs, this one is designed for searching the whole computer, rather than just sharing specific files or pieces of information. You’ll find it a great complement to other programs such as Evernote and SugarSync.”

Give it a whirl.

Whitney Grace, March 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of CyberOSINT

Watson Goes Blekko

March 28, 2015

I read “Goodbye Blekko: Search Engine Joins IBM’s Watson Team.” According to the write up, “Blekko’s home page says its team and technology are now part of IBM’s Watson technology.” I would not know this. I do not use the service. I wrestled with the implementation of Blekko on a news service and then wondered if Yandex was serious about the company. Bottom line: Blekko is not one of my go to search systems, and I don’t cover it in my Alternatives to Google lectures for law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

The write up asserts:

Blekko came out of stealth in 2008 with Skrenta promising to create a search engine with “algorithmic editorial differentiation” compared to Google. Its public search engine finally opened in 2010, launching with what the site called “slashtags” — a personalization and filtering tool that gave users control over the sites they saw in Blekko’s search results.

Another search system becomes part of the puzzling Watson service. How many information access systems does IBM require to make Watson the billion dollar revenue generator or at least robust enough to pay the rent for the Union Square offices?

IBM “owns” the Clementine system which arrived with the SPSS purchase. IBM owns Vivisimo, which morphed into a Big Data system in the acquisition news release, iPhrase, and the wonky search functions in DB2. Somewhere along the line, IBM snagged the Illustra system. From its own labs, IBM has Web Fountain. There is the decades old STAIRS system which may still be available as Service Master. And, of course, there is the Lucene system which provides the dray animals for Watson. Whew. That is a wealth of information access technology, and I am not sure it is comprehensive.

My point is that Blekko and its razzle dazzle assertions now have to provide something that delivers a payoff for IBM. On the other hand, maybe IBM Watson executives are buying technology in the hopes that one of the people “aquihired” or the newly bought zeros and ones will generate massive cash flows.

Watson has morphed from a question answering game show winner into all manner of fantastic information processing capabilities. For me, Watson is an example of what happens when a lack of focus blends with money, executive compensation schemes, and a struggling $100 billion outfit.

Lots of smoke. Not much revenue fire. Stakeholders hope it will change. I am looking forward to a semantically enriched recipe for barbeque sauce that includes tamarind and other spices not available in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. Yummy. A tasty addition to the quarterly review menu: Blekko with revenue and a piquant profit sauce.

Perhaps IBM next will acquire Pertimm and the Qwant search system which terrrifes Eric Schmidt? Surprises ahead. I prefer profitable, sustainable revenues however.

Stephen E Arnold, March 28, 2015

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