CyberOSINT banner

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, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Not Hacking, but Trickery, Lost Bitpay Almost $2 Million

September 30, 2015

The article titled How a Clever Hacker Tricked a Major Bitcoin Company Out of $1.8 Million on Motherboard shines a light on the manipulation of BitPay,a Bitcoin payment service, by a clever hacker. Apparently the attacker sent an email from BTC Media CEO David Bailey’s computer to a BitPay CFO requesting his corporate email information, which he readily supplied because the two companies were already in talks about a potential partnership. The article clarifies,

“The insurance claim on the lost funds was denied because BitPay’s computers were never hacked—instead, they just gave away their email passwords in what appears to be a classic phishing scam. Phishing is when an attacker send a scammy email in the hopes that the victim is not savvy enough to trash it immediately. …Several months after the hack, BitPay was reportedly processing more than $1 million in payments every day.”

The hacker continued using Bitpay’s executive accounts to request funds, all of which were apparently granted until an employee of the transaction software company, SecondMarket, was notified. The article and court case emphasize that this was not a hacking scenario, just a $1.8 Million phishing scam that people using Craigslist for job searches avoid every day.
Chelsea Kerwin, September 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


National Geographic Sells Out 

September 30, 2015

The National Geographic Society is one of the most respected institutes in regards to science and journalism related to nature.  For 127 years, National Geographic managed itself as a non-profit organization.  Buzzfeed reports that 21st Century Fox purchased National Geographic in the article, “Rupert Murdoch Is Buying National Geographic.”  Before you start getting upset that National Geographic has “sold out” in the same manner that Sesame Street has a new partnership with HBO, be aware that 21st Century Fox already owned and operated a joint-venture partnership with the company.

The bulk of National Geographic’s properties are being turned over to 21st Century Fox, who will manage them and allow the National Geographic Society to focus on:

“The National Geographic Society said the deal will let the foundation invest more money in sponsoring explorers and scientists. ‘The value generated by this transaction, including the consistent and attractive revenue stream that National Geographic Partners will deliver, ensures that we will have greater resources for this work, which includes our grant making programs,’ said CEO Gary Knell, in a statement.”

While National Geographic is still popular, it faces stiff competition from other news outlets that generate similar if not more content.  National Geographic wants to have better, modern storytelling “so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live.”

Hopefully this will free up more monies for scientific research, endeavors to protect endangered species, educational programs, and better ways to educate people on the natural world.


Whitney Grace, September 30, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Many Applications of Predictive Analytics

September 29, 2015

The article on Computer World titled Technology that Predicts Your Next Security Fail confers the current explosion in predictive analytics, the application of past occurrences to predict future occurrences. The article cites the example of the Kentucky Department of Revenue (DOR), which used predictive analytics to catch fraud. By providing SAS with six years of data the DOR received a batch of new insights into fraud indicators such as similar filings from the same IP address. The article imparts words of wisdom from SANS Institute instructor Phil Hagen,

“Even the most sophisticated predictive analytics software requires human talent, though. For instance, once the Kentucky DOR tools (either the existing checklist or the SAS tool) suspect fraud, the tax return is forwarded to a human examiner for review. “Predictive analytics is only as good as the forethought you put into it and the questions you ask of it,” Hagen warns….  Also It’s imperative that data scientists, not security teams, drive the predictive analytics project.”

In addition to helping the IRS avoid major fails like the 2013 fraudulent refunds totaling $5.8 billion, predictive analytics has other applications. Perhaps most interesting is its use protecting human assets in regions where kidnappings are common by detecting unrest and alerting organizations to lock up their doors. But it is hard to see limitations for technology that so accurately reads the future.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 29, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Accidental and On-Purpose Insider Threats in Federal Agencies Still Raging

September 28, 2015

The article on Eweek titled Insider Threats a Major Security Issue for Federal Agencies looks at the recent results of a MeriTalk survey investigating federal response to insider threats through interviewing federal IT managers. The results are shocking, with almost 30% of agencies acknowledging data lost to an insider threat in the last year and half of respondents claiming that unauthorized personnel commonly fail to observe protocols. Even worse, most agencies have no tracking in place to recognize what a staffer may have seen or shared, making them virtually incapable of following up on risky behavior in their employees. The article says,

“The most startling finding from the survey is the fact that 45 percent of agencies say they’ve been a target of an attack – malicious or unintentional – yet 50 percent still say employees do not follow all the protocols in place,” Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk…”There is also a lack of agreement on the best solution.  Frequent, hands-on employee training is the key to preventing these incidents, as well as accountability. However, we are all human and people make mistakes.”

O’Keefe recommends the immediate and comprehensive adoption of better encryption and two-factor authentication to address the issue. But perhaps equally important is continuously updated training, and ongoing training, to avoid the common accidental insider threats.
Chelsea Kerwin, September 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Help Wanted: Chief Marketing Technology Officer

September 28, 2015

A new, indispensable position for companies is the chief technology officer or the chief information officer. Their primary responsibilities are to manage the IT department, implement new ways to manage information, and/or develop software as needed. There is a new position that companies will be creating in the future and the title is chief marketing technology officer, says Live Mint in “Make Way CIOS, CMOS: Here Comes The CMTO.”

Formerly the marketing and IT departments never mixed, except for the occasional social media collaboration. Marketers are increasing their reliance on technology to understand their customers and it goes far beyond social media. Marketers need to be aware of the growing trends in mobile shopping and search, digital analytics, gamification, online communities, and the power of user-generated content.

“The CMO’s role will graduate to CMTO, a marketer with considerable knowledge of technology. The CMTO, according to Nasscom, will not only conceptualize but also build solutions and lay down the technical and commercial specifications while working alongside the IT team on vendor selection.”

It is not enough to know how to market a product or promote an organization. Marketers need to be able to engage with technology and understand how to implement to attract modern customers and increase sales. In other words, evolving the current marketing position with a new buzzword.

Whitney Grace, September 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Play Serves as Make Up Letter from Google to China

September 18, 2015

The article titled Google’s Return to China Won’t Be Easy on VentureBeat discusses Google’s ambitions to revisit China with the help of Google Play, its Android mobile operating system app store. If you don’t remember, about five years ago Google refused to self-censor search results and pulled its services from China to boot. But Google can’t help looking longingly over its shoulder at the world’s largest Internet market. The article explains,

“Apple Inc complies with local laws and made $13.2 billion last quarter in Greater China…, making it its second-biggest market. Some in the industry doubt whether Google can use the Play store to help get its other services into China as domestic rivals are now well established and Google would have to comply with Chinese law. That would mean storing all data in China, and meeting information access and censorship requests, a thorny issue, particularly if the U.S. government gets involved.”

Obviously, China did not heed Google’s advice on reforming its approach to business and government oversight. Some argue that the focus on Google Play may make the movement toward China less threatening to Chinese regulators than their other services like search and Gmail. The article suggests the possibility that the lapse in Google’s presence in the market may be fatal to them there. The niche market has been working just fine, thank you very much, many mobile players believe. At any rate, Google’s hopes are a long shot unless they are willing to do it the Chinese way.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 18, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Brand-New Watson Health Unit Has Boston Buzzing

September 17, 2015

The article titled IBM Watson Health Unit Begins to Take Shape on TechCrunch investigates the work being done to initiate the new healthcare unit in Boston and surrounding community that IBM hopes to use to address major issues in healthcare. Already this year IBM has purchased and partnered with numerous companies in the field. Recently, Boston Children’s Hospital joined the list as well as Apple and Johnson & Johnson. The article states,

“As part of today’s broad announcement, IBM indicated that it would be working with Sage Bionetworks’ Open Biomedical Research Platform around the first Apple projects. Sage will be collecting information from Apple Devices using ResearchKit developer tools, initially with breast cancer and Parkinson’s patients. It will be aggregating storing, curating and analyzing the information coming in from the Apple Devices. IBM will be providing the underlying technology with its IBM Watson Health Cloud platform.”

Additionally, IBM Watson Health Cloud for Life Science Compliance was also announced, as the cherry built on top of IBM Softlayer. It is designed to aid companies in the life science industry with a fully compliant cloud solution capable of meeting the demands of the heavily regulated field. Not mentioned in the article is any mention of what the revenues are for this Health Unit initiative, as if they are entirely irrelevant.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Europol and FireEye Are Fighting Digital Crime

September 15, 2015

The Internet is a hotbed for crime and its perpetrators and Europol is one of the main organizations that fights it head on.  One the problems that Europol faces is the lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and private industry.  In a landmark agreement that will most likely be followed by others, The Inquirer reports “Europol and FireEye Have Aligned To Fight The International Cyber Menace.”

FireEye and Eurpol have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where they will exchange information, so law enforcement agencies and private industry will be able to share information in an effort to fight the growing prevalence of cyber crime.  Europol is usually the only organization that disseminates information across law enforcement agencies.  FireEye is eager to help open the communication channels.

” ‘The threat landscape is changing every day and organizations need to stay one step ahead of the attackers,’ said Richard Turner, president for EMEA at FireEye.  ‘Working with Europol means that, as well as granting early access to FireEye’s threat intelligence, FireEye will be able to respond to requests for assistance around threats or technical indicators of compromise in order to assist Europol in combating the ever increasing threat from cyber criminals.’ ”

The MoU will allow for exchange of information about cyber crime to aid each other in prevention and analyze attach methods.  The Inquirer, however, suspects that information will only be shared one way.  It does not explain which direction, though.  The MoU is going to be a standard between Big Data companies and law enforcement agencies.  Law enforcement agencies are notorious for being outdated and understaffed; relying on information and software from private industry will increase cyber crime prevention.

Whitney Grace, September 15, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Content Matching Helps Police Bust Dark Web Sex Trafficking Ring

September 4, 2015

The Dark Web is not only used to buy and sell illegal drugs, but it is also used to perpetuate sex trafficking, especially of children.  The work of law enforcement agencies working to prevent the abuse of sex trafficking victims is detailed in a report by the Australia Broadcasting Corporation called “Secret ‘Dark Net’ Operation Saves Scores Of Children From Abuse; Ringleader Shannon McCoole Behind Bars After Police Take Over Child Porn Site.”  For ten months, Argos, the Queensland, police anti-pedophile taskforce tracked usage on an Internet bulletin board with 45,000 members that viewed and uploaded child pornography.

The Dark Web is notorious for encrypting user information and that is one of the main draws, because users can conduct business or other illegal activities, such as view child pornography, without fear of retribution.  Even the Dark Web, however, leaves a digital trail and Argos was able to track down the Web site’s administrator.  It turned out the administrator was an Australian childcare worker who had been sentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually abusing seven children in his care and sharing child pornography.

Argos was able to catch the perpetrator by noticing patterns in his language usage in posts he made to the bulletin board (he used the greeting “hiya”). Using advanced search techniques, the police sifted through results and narrowed them down to a Facebook page and a photograph.  From the Facebook page, they got the administrator’s name and made an arrest.

After arresting the ringleader, Argos took over the community and started to track down the rest of the users.

” ‘Phase two was to take over the network, assume control of the network, try to identify as many of the key administrators as we could and remove them,’ Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.  ‘Ultimately, you had a child sex offender network that was being administered by police.’ ”

When they took over the network, the police were required to work in real-time to interact with the users and gather information to make arrests.

Even though the Queensland police were able to end one Dark Web child pornography ring and save many children from abuse, there are still many Dark Web sites centered on child sex trafficking.


Whitney Grace, September 4, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph




Next Page »