Google Does Not Play Hardball, Certainly Not in Australia

June 20, 2018

Google has eagerly held its stronghold on the market and many of its tough exploits have been documented. Recently, their tactics seem to have reached a new level of seriousness, as we discovered in a recent Business Insider story, “Unlockd is Blaming Google for Going Into Administration.”

According to the story:

“The Unlockd app, which is backed by Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan, lets mobile users view ads, content, and offers based on their interests in exchange for rewards. It is only available on Android…“The company said it was planning to go public when Google threatened to ban its service from Google Play.”

This was a big blow to a company that was valued at $180 Million. However, it is appearing that Google is perhaps not the villain many are making them out to be in this scenario. Recently, Google has been giving users an option to turn off advertisements that know too much of their information. So, what once looked like a strong arm tactic to ruin a startup is now beginning to seem like Google turning a corner and helping users protect their information.

Patrick Roland, June 20, 2018


Visual Search Enters Its Next Phase

June 19, 2018

About a year ago, some of the biggest names in search declared that visual search was the next big horizon in the industry and that they were pouring great gobs of money into this world. If you are like us, visual search is not exactly part of your everyday life yet. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t evolving, as we discovered in a fascinating Digital Trends story, “Not Happy With Pinterest Search Results? Refine it With Text and Photo Queries.”

According to the story:

Pinterest announced the addition of text searches that work within the visual search tool, allowing users to give Pinterest Lens a bit more direction on the intent of the search. According to Pinterest, users make an average of 600 million searches every month.”

That’s an interesting trend and suggests an uptick. However, all these advances still don’t seem to be creeping into our daily life…yet. As reported by IT Pro Portal, retailers are starting to adopt visual search technology. This directly stems from the rise of shopping via cell phone, as opposed to laptops. And, as we all know, phones are custom made for visual search thanks to their cameras. The technology sounds like it is there, our interest is there as shoppers, and we think the storm is on the horizon where visual search overtakes the retail market soon.

Patrick Roland, June 19, 2018

Google and the China Market: A Second Phase

June 18, 2018

It’s early in Harrod’s Creek. I read “Google Places a $550 Million Bet on China’s Second Largest E Commerce Player.” The write up was intriguing. Google is apparently interested in turning Avis into Hertz, at least in the Chinese e commerce arena. Also, I recall that Google wanted China’s political leaders to change. I am not sure Avis knocked Hertz out of the Number One spot in car rentals. Also, it seems to me that China has become focused on remaining distinctly Chinese with the added twist of surveillance, filtering, and other interesting information collection methods.

The CNBC “real” news outfit states:

The two tech companies said they would work together to develop retail infrastructure that can better personalize the shopping experience and reduce friction in a number of markets, including Southeast Asia. For its part, said it planned to make a selection of items available for sale in places like the U.S. and Europe through Google Shopping — a service that lets users search for products on e-commerce websites and compare prices between different sellers.

During my trips to China, I entertained myself looking for knock offs or counterfeit goods. For example, one of the individuals serving as my “guide” let me know that I could buy watches similar to those on offer at the Zurich airport shops. I took a look, and to my unpracticed eye, these watches looked pretty good. I did not buy one, however. I am happy with my easy to read Timex.

My hunch is that such goods will be filtered from those offered by the new retail team mates.

The timing is particularly Googley. The US and China are engaging in tariff checker games.

Worth monitoring, particularly if one is engaged in certain branded retail sectors.

Stephen E Arnold, June 18, 2018


Short Honk: Does Amazon Have Facebook Data?

June 5, 2018

I read “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends.” The write up mentions Amazon as a company given “access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.” So the answer appears to be “Yes.” I assume that the NYT report is “real” news. What can Amazon do with that data? Check out the Amazon analysis in this week’s DarkCyber.

Stephen E Arnold, June 5, 2018

Amazon: A New Revenue Stream Begins to Flow

May 23, 2018

Amazon is a bit of an exception when compared to Facebook and Google. In general, Amazon’s business has cruised along without eliciting the criticism which swarms around Facebook.

Yesterday I had an experience which revealed how strongly some companies feel that Amazon is in some way sacrosanct. There is an outfit which Jessica B., one of the investigative journalists who worked for me before I retired, used PRUnderground to put out news releases about my books, speeches, and my various projects. One of the young people who help me drafted a 500 word news release about one of the research findings which I will present at the upcoming Telestrategies ISS conference in Prague. The attendees will be active law enforcement, intelligence, and security professionals. The release was a summary of one of the new services which Amazon has begun to introduce.

The PRUnderground professionals informed me that what the person wrote and submitted for release on June 5 was not permissible. The angle was that PR about another company was not PR. Amazon is probably happy that my news release is not news. (We also encountered another instance of censorship with this story. The LinkedIn system blocked this write up, presumably because the writer who did the story was not treating Microsoft in a proper manner. Interesting.)

I read “Amazon Is Selling Facial Recognition to Law Enforcement for a Fistful of Dollars.” The source is the Washington Post which may be a project favored by Jeff Bezos, the big Amazonian.

Several observations:

I have been reporting about Chinese and Israeli facial recognition systems in my weekly DarkCyber videos. I generally prefer to report about non US companies, but here is the Washington Post reporting about facial recognition sold to government entities. I wonder if the professionals at PRUnderground would have run a news release about the story. I suppose I could ask, but I think I will conserve my energy for my research and analysis of what some youngsters call the “actual factual.”

What happens if one combines the story about Rekognition, which has been around since 2015 when I heard about the system with the information which I will present in my “Deanonymizing Digital Currency Transactions”?

My hunch is that some stock market types, a handful of specialist vendors serving the LE and intel communities, and a few people in the US government who have attended my lectures this year might find the two items of significant interest.

On June 5, 2018, I will include some of the information in the DarkCyber released coincident with my speeches in Prague.

In the meantime, Amazon is an interesting company and one that is positioned to disrupt a reasonably large market for investigative tools and services. To give one example, what if the crowd facial recognition feature is cross correlated with purchase history, banking information, and other data housed by Amazon?

Think about that idea. Think about cross correlation in real time of multiple streams of data. I did.

I won’t be doing a PRUnderground release. I will just plug along, content in the knowledge that the Washington Post three years after Rekognition moved from idea to buggy beta tuned into what I think is now old news.

My hunch is that this item will not appear in my LinkedIn feed either. The shaping of fact based information must continue.

Perhaps I will ask Alexa. “Why is Amazon pushing so hard to land a large Department of Defense contract?” and “Why is Amazon dipping its Bezos sized toe into the law enforcement services market?”

I will share my hypothesis with the 200 or 300 LE and intel professionals who attend my two lectures. I will be offering for fee webinars and in person training on this subject later this year. Who knows? I might even write a short analytic white paper.

Publicity on LinkedIn and PRUnderground. Probably unlikely.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2018

Seeking Sound FX

April 21, 2018

Short honk: Searching for sounds is not the smoothest experience. If you are into clicking and listening, check out the Beeb’s collection of sound effects. There is a license, and there are conditions.

Stephen E Arnold, April 21, 2018

DarkCyber for 28 November 2017 Now Available

November 28, 2017

DarkCyber for November 28, 2017, covers four Dark Web stories. The first is CaaS or Crime as a Service. The report points to an Interpol reports which explains a major shift in methods for online criminals. The second item describes Terbium Labs technology. The Baltimore-based company’s Matchlight system can locate confidential information available on the Dark Web. Next, Stephen E Arnold talks about hosting providers for Dark Web sites. The examples include companies from Ukraine, Moldova, and Holland. The program concludes with a discussion of a Google Blogger service story. The Blogger post provides clear text names and ONION urls for a number of Dark Web sites which may provide access to illegal products or services. With the information on Blogger, library patrons and students can access this information from a standard Web browser.

Kenny Toth, November 28, 2017

Is Your Company a Data Management Leader or Laggard?

November 4, 2016

The article titled Companies are Falling Short in Data Management on IT ProPortal describes the obstacles facing many businesses when it comes to data management optimization. Why does this matter? The article states that big data analytics and the internet of things will combine to form an over $300 billion industry by 2020. Companies that fail to build up their capabilities will lose out—big. The article explains,

More than two thirds of data management leaders believe they have an effective data management strategy. They also believe they are approaching data cleansing and analytics the right way…The [SAS] report also says that approximately 10 per cent of companies it calls ‘laggards’, believe the same thing. The problem is – there are as many ‘laggards’, as there are leaders in the majority of industries, which leads SAS to a conclusion that ‘many companies are falling short in data management’.

In order to avoid this trend, company leaders must identify the obstacles impeding their path. A better focus on staff training and development is only possible after recognizing that a lack of internal skills is one of the most common issues. Additionally, companies must clearly define their data strategy and disseminate the vision among all levels of personnel.

Chelsea Kerwin,  November 4, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Mobile Search: The Future

October 14, 2016

Google may be poised to upgrade its mobile search service. In theory, desktop search is king. The king, however, may be on life support. Read “Google: Fragmentation and the False Universal Search.”

Kenny Toth, October 14, 2016

Yippy Revealed: An Interview with Michael Cizmar, Head of Yipy Enterprise Search Division

August 16, 2016

Administrative and organizational issues.

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