New Terrorism and Technology Reports Released

October 11, 2016

Attempting to understand the level of threat a terrorist organization poses continues to be difficult. published Report: Electronic jihad grows in sophistication, which shares the cyber-jihad survey from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology. The authors of this survey present social media and other cyberspace tools to be “the great equalizer” in warfare. In addition to social media, there are a few hacker groups which have launched attacks on western websites and Arab media: the Cyber Caliphate, the dedicated hacker division of the Islamic State, and the Terrorist Team for Electronic Jihad. The write-up explains,

The cyber jihad survey notes that ISIS has mostly dedicated its expanding offensive cyber capabilities to specific social media accounts, including the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command. Offensive capabilities are thought to include the use of malware, insider threats and “preconfigured tools.” Malware efforts have included spear-phishing emails containing malware designed to sweep up the IP addresses and geolocation data about anti-ISIS groups in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. As ISIS and other cyber-jihadists become more sophisticated and aggressive, experts worry that they will eventually attempt more audacious attacks.

However, a report from the federal government suggests ISIS’ Twitter traffic dropped 45 percent in the past two years. While terrorist group’s technology may be expanding in the arena of offensive strikes, officials believe the decline in Twitter popularity suggests recruitment may be slowing. We think there needs to more analysis of recruitment via Dark Web.

Megan Feil, October 11, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Gleaning Insights and Advantages from Semantic Tagging for Digital Content

September 22, 2016

The article titled Semantic Tagging Can Improve Digital Content Publishing on Aptara Corp. blog reveals the importance of indexing. The article waves the flag of semantic tagging at the publishing industry, which has been pushed into digital content kicking and screaming. The difficulties involved in compatibility across networks, operating systems, and a device are quite a headache. Semantic tagging could help, if only anyone understood what it is. The article enlightens us,

Put simply, semantic markups are used in the behind-the-scene operations. However, their importance cannot be understated; proprietary software is required to create the metadata and assign the appropriate tags, which influence the level of quality experienced when delivering, finding and interacting with the content… There have been many articles that have agreed the concept of intelligent content is best summarized by Ann Rockley’s definition, which is “content that’s structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable.

The application to the publishing industry is obvious when put in terms of increasing searchability. Any student who has used JSTOR knows the frustrations of searching digital content. It is a complicated process that indexing, if administered correctly, will make much easier. The article points out that authors are competing not only with each other, but also with the endless stream of content being created on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Publishers need to take advantage of semantic markups and every other resource at their disposal to even the playing field.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 22, 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:

Elastic Links Search and Social Through Graph Capabilities

September 13, 2016

The article titled Confused About Relationships? Elasticsearch Gets Graphic on The Register communicates the latest offering from Elasticsearch, the open-source search server based on Apache’s Lucene. Graph capabilities are an exciting new twist on search that enables users to map out relationships through the search engine and the Kibana data visualization plug-in. The article explains,

By fusing graph with search, Elastic hopes to combine the power of social with that earlier great online revolution, the revolution that gave us Google: search. Graph in Elasticsearch establishes relevance by establishing the significance of each relationship versus the global average to return important results. That’s different to what Elastic called “traditional” relationship mapping, which is based on a count of the frequency of a given relationship.

Elasticsearch sees potential for their Graph capabilities in behavioral analysis, particularly in areas such as drug discovery, fraud detection, and customized medicine and recommendations. When it comes to identifying business opportunities, Graph databases have already proven their value. Discovering connections and trimming degrees of separation are all of vital importance in social media. Social networks like Twitter have been using them since the beginning of NoSQL. Indeed, Facebook is a customer of Elastic, the business version of Elasticsearch that was founded in 2012. Other users of Elasticsearch include Netflix, StumbleUpon, and Mozilla.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 13, 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:

A Snapchat Is Worth a Thousand Twitter Characters or More

September 8, 2016

The article titled Snapchat Passes Twitter in Daily Usage on Bloomberg Technology provides some insights into the most popular modes of communication. As the title suggests, that mode is not with words. Rather, 150 million people appear to prefer images to language, at least when it comes to engaging with other on social media. The article reveals,

Snapchat has made communicating more of a game by letting people send annotated selfies and short videos. It has allowed people to use its imaging software to swap faces in a photo, transform themselves into puppies, and barf rainbows… Snapchat encourages people to visit the app frequently with features such as the “Snapstreak,” which counts the number of consecutive days they’ve been communicating with their closest friends. Snapchat’s other content, such as news and Live Stories, disappear after 24 hours.

Other Silicon Valley players have taken note of this trend. Facebook recently purchased the company that built Masquerade, an app offering photo-manipulation akin to Snapchat’s. Are words on their way out? The trend of using abbreviations (“abbrevs”) and slang to streamline messaging would logically result in a replacement of language with images, which can say volumes with a single click. But this could also result in a lot of confusion and miscommunication. Words allow for a precision of meaning that images often can’t supply. Hence the crossbreed of a short note scrawled across an image.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 8, 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:

Government Seeks Sentiment Analysis on Its PR Efforts

September 6, 2016

Sentiment analysis is taking off — government agencies are using it for PR purposes. Next Gov released a story, Spy Agency Wants Tech that Shows How Well Its PR Team Is Doing, which covers the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s request for information about sentiment analysis. The NGA hopes to use this technology to assess their PR efforts to increase public awareness of their agency and communicate its mission, especially to groups such as college students, recruits and those in the private sector. Commenting on the bigger picture, the author writes,

The request for information appears to be part of a broader effort within the intelligence community to improve public opinion about its operations, especially among younger, tech-savvy citizens. The CIA has been using Twitter since 2014 to inform the public about the agency’s past missions and to demonstrate that it has a sense of humor, according to an Nextgov interview last year with its social media team. The CIA’s social media director said at the time there weren’t plans to use sentiment analysis technology to analyze the public’s tweets about the CIA because it was unclear how accurate those systems are.

The technologies used in sentiment analysis such as natural language processing and computational linguistics are attractive in many sectors for PR and other purposes, the government is no exception. Especially now that CIA and other organizations are using social media, the space is certainly ripe for government sentiment analysis. Though, we must echo the question posed by the CIA’s social media director in regards to accuracy.

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

Social Media Snooping Site Emerges for Landlord and Employers

September 2, 2016

The promise of unlocking the insights in big data is one that many search and analytics companies make. CNet shares the scoop on a new company: Disturbing new site scrapes your private Facebook and informs landlords, employers. Their website is Score Assured and it provides a service as an intermediary between your social media accounts and your landlord. Through scanning every word you have typed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Tinder, this service will then filter all the words through a neuro-linguistic programming tool to provide a report on your reputation. We learned,

There’s no reason to believe that Score Assured’s “analysis” will offer in any way an accurate portrayal of who you are or your financial wherewithal. States across the country are already preparing or enacting legislation to ensure that potential employers have no right to ask for your password to Facebook or other social media. In Washington, for example, it’s illegal for an employer to ask for your password. Score Assured offers landlords and employers (the employer service isn’t live yet) the chance to ask for such passwords slightly more indirectly. Psychologically, the company is preying on a weakness humans have been displaying for some time now: the willingness to give up their privacy to get something they think they really want.

Scraping and finding tools are not new, but could this application be any more 2016? The author of this piece is onto the zeitgeist of “I’ve got nothing to hide.” Consequently, data — even social data — becomes a commodity. Users’ willingness to consent is the sociologically interesting piece here. It remains to be seen whether the data mining technology is anything special.

Megan Feil, September 2, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

No More Data Mining for Intelligence

August 23, 2016

The U.S. intelligence community will no longer receive information from Dataminr, which serves as a Twitter “fire hose” (Twitter owns five percent of Dataminr). An article, Twitter Turns Off Fire Hose For Intelligence Community from ThreatPost offers the story. A Twitter spokesperson stated they have had a longstanding policy against selling data for surveillance. However, the Journal reported their arrangement was terminated after a CIA test program concluded. The article continues,

Dataminr is the only company allowed to sell data culled from the Twitter fire hose. It mines Tweets and correlates that data with location data and other sources, and fires off alerts to subscribers of breaking news. Reportedly, Dataminr subscribers knew about the recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris before mainstream media had reported the news. The Journal said its inside the intelligence community said the government isn’t pleased with the decision and hopes to convince Twitter to reconsider.

User data shared on social media has such a myriad of potential applications for business, law enforcement, education, journalism and countless other sectors. This story highlights how applications for journalism may be better received than applications for government intelligence. This is something worth noticing.

Megan Feil, August 23, 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:

Content Cannot Be Searched If It Is Not There

August 16, 2016

Google Europe is already dealing with a slew of “right to be forgotten” requests, but Twitter had its own recent fight with deletion related issue.  TechCrunch shares the story about “Deleted Tweet Archive PostGhost Shut Down After Twitter Cease And Desist” order.  PostGhost was a Web site that archived tweets from famous public figures.  PostGhost gained its own fame for recording deleted tweets.

The idea behind PostGhost was to allow a transparent and accurate record.  The Library of Congress already does something similar as it archives every Tweet.  Twitter, however, did not like PostGhost and sent them a cease and desist threatening to remove their API access.  Apparently,Google it is illegal to post deleted tweets, something that evolved from the European “right to be forgotten” laws.

So is PostGhost or Twitter wrong?

“There are two schools of thought when something like this happens. The first is that it’s Twitter’s prerogative to censor anything and all the things. It’s their sandbox and we just play in it.  The second school of thought says that Twitter is free-riding on our time and attention and in exchange for that they should work with their readers and users in a sane way.”

Twitter is a platform for a small percentage of users, the famous and public figures, who instantly have access to millions of people when they voice their thoughts.  When these figures put their thoughts on the Internet it has more meaning than the average tweet.  Other Web sites do the same, but it looks like public figures are exempt from this rule.  Why?  I am guessing money is exchanging hands.


Whitney Grace, August 16, 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:

Snowden Makes Rare Comment on Putin’s Politics

August 15, 2016

I off hand heard a comment from someone living in Russia that President Vladimir Putin was returning the country to a time resembling the Soviet days.  To my western ears, that does not sound good.  Things are about to get worse for Russian citizens due to a new law the government signed into law.  Yahoo Tech reports in the article that “Putin Signs Controversial Anti-Terror Measures Into Law” that these new laws are meant to be anti-terror laws, but are better referred to as “Big Brother” laws.

The new laws give the government greater surveillance powers of its citizens.  This means that under the guise of providing extra security communications-based companies will be forced to store people’s calls, messages, photos, videos, and metadata for three years.  The companies must also allow security services full access to all the data and any encryption tools necessary.  It gets even worse:

“They also criminalise several offences, lower the age of criminal responsibility to 14 for some crimes and extend prison sentences for online crimes like abetting terrorism.  The passage of the bills through Russia’s lower and upper houses of parliament sent shockwaves through the internet and telecoms industries.”

Communications-based companies are worried that the new laws will cut into their profit margins.  It is predicted that the new infrastructure necessary to store the massive amount of data will cost four times the industry’s annual profit.  It is recommended that a tax on the entire industry, then use that money to build the infrastructure would be a better option.

The US whistleblower Edward Snowden, currently in Russia for asylum, made a rare comment on Russia’s politics via Twitter about the new laws:

“ ‘Signing the #BigBrother law must be condemned,’ he said, adding that he would criticise the law despite fearing retaliation from Russian authorities.”

Snowden wrote what is already written on the wall when it comes to Russia: Putin is changing the country for the worse and it is scary to imagine where it will go next.


Whitney Grace, August 15, 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:

You Do Not Tay?

July 25, 2016

The article titled Microsoft CaptionBot: AI Image Guessing App Really Isn’t Sure Who Barack Obama Is on International Business Times assesses Microsoft’s latest attempt at AI following the catastrophic Twitter robot Tay which quickly “learned” and repeated some pretty darn offensive ideas about Hitler and Obama. The newly released version named CaptionBot is more focused on image descriptions. The article states,

“Users are asked to upload any photo to the site, then Microsoft’s AI system attempts to describe what is in the image. The system can recognise celebrities and understands the basics of image composition but…, it isn’t yet perfect… You know when you recognise someone, but can’t quite put your finger on who it is? Caption Bot doesn’t do that, it just fails to even describe what a photo of Barack Obama is, never mind who he might be.”

From the examples, it is clear that while CaptionBot is much better at understanding and defining objects than people, objects often create difficulty as well. An image of a yellow vehicle from Cars was described (without confidence) as a white toilet next to a yellow building. To be sure, if you stare at the image long enough, the toilet shape emerges.


Chelsea Kerwin, July 25, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/DarkWeb meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link:


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