Artificial Intelligence Is Only a Download Away

October 17, 2016

Artificial intelligence still remains a thing of imagination in most people’s minds, because we do not understand how much it actually impacts our daily lives.  If you use a smartphone of any kind, it is programmed with software, apps, and a digital assistant teeming with artificial intelligence.  We are just so used to thinking that AI is the product of robots that we are unaware our phones, tablets, and other mobiles devices are little robots of their own.

Artificial intelligence programming and development is also on the daily task list on many software technicians.  If you happen to have any technical background, you might be interested to know that there are many open source options to begin experimenting with artificial intelligence.  Datamation rounded up the “15 Top Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools” and these might be the next tool you use to complete your machine learning project.  The article shares that:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest areas of technology research. Companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are investing heavily in their own R&D, as well as buying up startups that have made progress in areas like machine learning, neural networks, natural language and image processing. Given the level of interest, it should come as no surprise that a recent artificial intelligence report from experts at Stanford University concluded that ‘increasingly useful applications of AI, with potentially profound positive impacts on our society and economy are likely to emerge between now and 2030.

The statement reiterates what I already wrote.  The list runs down open source tools, including PredictionIO, Oryx 2, OpenNN, MLib, Mahout, H20, Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit, Deeplearning4j, CNTK, Caffe, SystemML, TensorFlow, and Torch.  The use of each tool is described and most of them rely on some sort of Apache software.  Perhaps your own artificial intelligence project can contribute to further development of these open source tools.

Whitney Grace, October 17, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Malware with Community on the Dark Web

October 14, 2016

While Mac malware is perhaps less common than attacks designed for PC, it is not entirely absent. The Register covers this in a recent article, EasyDoc malware adds Tor backdoor to Macs for botnet control. The malware is disguised as a software application called EasyDoc Converter which is supposed to be a file converter but does not actually perform that function. Instead, it allows hackers to control the hacked mac via Tor. The details of the software are explained as follows,

The malware, dubbed Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor, sets up a hidden Tor service and PHP-capable web server on the infected computer, generating a .onion domain that the attacker can use to connect to the Mac and control it. Once installed, the malware grants full access to the file system and can run scripts given to it by its masters. Eleanor’s controllers also uses the open-source tool wacaw to take control of the infected computer’s camera. That would allow them to not only spy on the victim but also take photographs of them, opening up the possibility of blackmail.

A Computer World article on EasyDoc expands on an additional aspect of this enabled by the Dark Web. Namely, there is a Pastebin agent which takes the infected system’s .onion URL, encrypts it with an RSA public key and posts it on Pastebin where attackers can find it and use it. This certainly seems to point to the strengthening of hacking culture and community, as counterintuitive of a form of community, it may be to those on the outside.

Megan Feil, October 14, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Reverse Image Searching Is Easier Than You Think

October 6, 2016

One of the newest forms of search is using actual images.  All search engines from Google to Bing to DuckDuckGo have an image search option, where using keywords you can find an image to your specifications.  It seemed to be a thing of the future to use an actual image to power a search, but it has actually been around for a while.  The only problem was that reverse image searching sucked and returned poor results.

Now the technology has improved, but very few people actually know how to use it.  ZDNet explains how to use this search feature in the article, “Reverse Image Searching Made Easy…”. It explains that Google and TinEye are the best way to begin reverse image search. Google has the larger image database, but TinEye has the better photo experts.  TinEye is better because:

TinEye’s results often show a variety of closely related images, because some versions have been edited or adapted. Sometimes you find your searched-for picture is a small part of a larger image, which is very useful: you can switch to searching for the whole thing. TinEye is also good at finding versions of images that haven’t had logos added, which is another step closer to the original.

TinEye does have its disadvantages, such as outdated results and not being able to find them on the Web.  In some cases Google is the better choice as one can search by usage rights.  Browser extensions for image searching are another option.  Lastly if you are a Reddit user, Karma Decay is a useful image search tool and users often post comments on the image’s origin.

The future of image searching is now.

Whitney Grace, October 6, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Geoparsing Is More Magical Than We Think

September 23, 2016

The term geoparsing sounds like it has something to do with cartography, but according to Directions Magazine in the article, “Geoparsing Maps The Future Of Text Documents” it is more like an alchemical spell.  Geoparsing refers to when text documents into a geospatial database that allows entity extraction and disambiguation (aka is geotagging).  It relies on natural language processing and is generally used to analyze text document collections.

While it might appear that geoparsing is magical, it actually is a complex technological process that relies on data to put information into context.  Places often have the same name, so disambiguation would have difficulty inputting the correct tags.  Geoparsing has important applications, such as:

Military users will not only want to exploit automatically geoparsed documents, they will require a capability to efficiently edit the results to certify that the place names in the document are all geotagged, and geotagged correctly. Just as cartographers review and validate map content prior to publication, geospatial analysts will review and validate geotagged text documents. Place checking, like spell checking, allows users to quickly and easily edit the content of their documents.

The article acts as a promo piece for the GeoDoc application, however, it does delve into the details into how geoparsing works and its benefits.

Whitney Grace, September 23, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Open Source Log File Viewer Glogg

September 21, 2016

Here is an open source solution for those looking to dig up information within large and complex log files; BetaNews shares, “View and Search Huge Log Files with Glogg.”  The software reads directly from your drive, saving time and keeping memory free (or at least as free as it was before.) Reviewer, Mike Williams tells us:

Glogg’s interface is simple and uncluttered, allowing anyone to use it as a plain text viewer. Open a log, browse the file, and the program grabs and displays new log lines as they’re added. There’s also a search box. Enter a plain text keyword, a regular or extended regular expression and any matches are highlighted in the main window and displayed in a separate pane. Enable ‘auto-refresh’ and glogg reruns searches as lines are added, ensuring the matches are always up-to-date. Glogg also supports ‘filters’, essentially canned searches which change text color in the document window. You could have lines containing ‘error’ displayed as black on red, lines containing ‘success’ shown black on green, and as many others as you need.

Williams spotted some more noteworthy features, like a quick-text search, highlighted matches, and helpful Next and Previous buttons. He notes the program is not exactly chock-full of fancy features, but suggests that is probably just as well for this particular task. Glogg runs on 64-bit Windows 7 and later, and on Linux.

Cynthia Murrell, September 21, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Watson Ads for Branded Answers to the Little Questions of Life

September 6, 2016

Here is a potent new way for brands to worm their way into every aspect of consumers’ lives. “IBM Watson Is Now Offering AI-Powered Digital Ads That Answer Consumers’ Questions,” we learn from AdWeek. Watson Ads will hook users up with answers to their everyday questions—answers supplied by advertisers. Apparently, IBM’s Weather-Company acquisition supplied the tools behind this product. Writer Christopher Heine explains:

IBM’s relatively new ownership of The Weather Company’s digital properties is coming into play in a serious fashion: Watson Ads will first appear on, the Weather mobile app and the company’s data-driven WeatherFX platform. Later, IBM plans to allow them to appear on third-party properties.

Campbell Soup Company, Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare are some of the brands that will run the ads in the coming days. Watson Ads’ pricing details were not disclosed.

Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales, The Weather Company, described how they work, stating that ‘machine learning and natural-language capabilities will allow it to provide accurate responses. What we’re doing is moving away from keyword searches and towards more natural language and well-reasoned answers.

Heine outlines Campbell’s plan as an example—their Watson Ads will present “Chef Watson,” the helpful AI which suggests recipes based on criteria like available ingredients, the time of day, and what the weather is like. Those recipes will be pulled from Campbell’s existing site Campbell’s Kitchen. Not surprisingly, their ingredient lists rely heavily on Campbell’s product line (which goes well beyond soup these days).

Another Watson Ads client is GSK Consumer Healthcare, which plans to use the tech to help users make better real-time health decisions—a worthy project, I’ll admit. I am curious to see how Unilever, and other companies down the line, will leverage their digital voices of authority. See the article for more details on the project.

Cynthia Murrell, September 6, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Thunderstone Gets an Upgrade

September 1, 2016

Pokémon Go is the latest mobile gaming craze and all of the players want to have a Pikachu as their main Pokémon.  Eventually players will evolve their Pikachu into the more powerful Raichu using candy and stardust, but old school Pokémon gamers know that the true way to evolve a Pikachu is with a Thunderstone.  The hardest part of evolving a Pikachu, however, was finding the actual Thunderstone.  Compulsive searchers have their own difficulties trying to find their information and other related content in their systems.  There is a software search solution coincidentally named Thunderstone and it recently went through an upgrade: “Thunderstone Releases Version 16.”

Thunderstone’s newest release includes updates that improve search quality across the board: intranets, aggregators, and public facing Web sites.  There also are more authorization options for better security, including a central authentication service and negotiate Kerberos option.  Perhaps the biggest upgrade is the following:

Simplified crawl configuration

  • Sitemaps allowing easier crawling of sites where URLs are not easily determined from a crawl.
  • XML/XSL site support by applying stylesheets to sites that deliver content via XML and XSL instead of HTML; the searchable text is better identified.
  • Proxy Auto-config (PAC) file support which makes it easier to index and crawl enterprises composed of different networks with varying proxy rules: the same config files used by browsers may now be used at crawl time.

The Ajax crawlable URL scheme from Google is supported, allowing Ajax based dynamic sites that support it to be crawled and indexed more effectively.”

Thunderstone now packs a more powerful punch for search quality and returning results.  Now if only finding Cubone could be improved as well.

Whitney Grace, September 1, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


USAGov Wants More Followers on Snapchat

August 12, 2016

The article on GCN titled Tracking the Ephemeral: USAGov’s Plan for Snapchat portrays the somewhat desperate attempts of the government to reach out to millennials. Perhaps shocking to non-users of the self-immolating picture app, Snapchat claims over a hundred million active users each day, mostly comprised of 13 to 34 year olds. The General Service Administration of USAGov plans to use Snapchat to study the success of their outreach like how many followers they receive and how many views their content gets. The article mentions,

“And while the videos and multimedia that make up “Snapchat stories” disappear after just 24 hours, the USAGov team believes the engagement metrics will provide lasting value. Snapchat lets account owners see how many people are watching each story, if they watch the whole story and when and where they stop before it’s over — allowing USAGov to analyze what kind of content works best.”

If you are wondering how this plan is affected by the Federal Records Acts which stipulates documentation of content, GSA is way ahead of you with a strategy of downloading each story and saving it as a record. All in all the government is coming across as a somewhat clingy boyfriend trying to find out what is up with his ex by using her favorite social media outlet. Not a great look for the US government. But at least they aren’t using ChatRoulette.


Chelsea Kerwin, August 12, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link:


Need a Mentor? See Here

August 3, 2016

Does your business need a mentor? How about any students or budding entrepreneurs you know? Such a guide can be invaluable, especially to a small business, but Google and Bing may not be the best places to pose that query. Business magazine Inc. has rounded up “Ten Top Platforms for Finding a Mentor in 22016.” Writer John Boitnott introduces the list:

“Many startup founders have learned that by working with a mentor, they enjoy a collaboration through which they can learn and grow. They usually also gain access to a much more experienced entrepreneur’s extensive network, which can help as they seek funding or gather resources. For students, mentors can provide the insight they need as they make decisions about their future. One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs and students have, however, is finding a good mentor when their professional networks are limited. Fortunately, technology has come up with an answer. Here are nine great platforms helping to connect mentors and mentees in 2016.”

Boitnott  lists the following mentor-discovery resources: Music platform Envelop offers workshops for performers and listeners. Mogul focuses on helping female entrepreneurs via a 27/7 advice hotline. From within classrooms, iCouldBe connects high-school students to potential mentors. Also for high-school students, iMentor is specifically active in low-income communities. MentorNet works to support STEM students through a community of dedicated mentors, while the free, U.K.-based Horse’s Mouth supports a loosely-organized platform where participants share ideas. Also free, Find a Mentor matches potential protégés with adult mentors. SCORE supplies tools like workshops and document templates for small businesses. Cloud-based MentorCity serves entrepreneurs, students, and nonprofits, and it maintains a free online registry where mentors can match their skill sets to the needs of inquiring minds.

Who knew so much professional guidance was out there, made possible by today’s technology, and much of it for free?  For more information on each entry, see the full article.



Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Summize, an App with the Technology to Make Our Children Learn. But Is They?

August 2, 2016

The article on TheNextWeb titled Teenagers Have Built a Summary App that Could Help Students Ace Exams might be difficult to read over the sound of a million teachers weeping into their syllabi. It’s no shock that students hate to read, and there is even some cause for alarm over the sheer amount of reading that some graduate students are expected to complete. But for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and even undergrads in college, there is a growing concern about the average reading comprehension level. This new app can only make matters worse by removing a student’s incentive to absorb the material and decide for themselves what is important. The article describes the app,

“Available for iOSSummize is an intelligent summary generator that will automatically recap the contents of any textbook page (or news article) you take a photo of with your smartphone. The app also supports concept, keyword and bias analysis, which breaks down the summaries to make them more accessible. With this feature, users can easily isolate concepts and keywords from the rest of the text to focus precisely on the material that matters the most to them.”

There is nothing wrong with any of this if it is really about time management instead of supporting illiteracy and lazy study habits. This app is the result of the efforts of an 18-year-old Rami Ghanem using optical character recognition software. A product of the era of No Child Left Behind, not coincidentally, exposed to years of teaching to the test and forgetting the lesson, of rote memorization in favor of analysis and understanding. Yes, with Summize, little Jimmy might ace the test. But shouldn’t an education be more than talking point mcnuggets?



Chelsea Kerwin, August 2, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Next Page »