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The Unknown Future of Google Cloud Platform

June 10, 2016

While many may have the perception Google dominates in many business sectors, a recent graph published shows a different story when it comes to cloud computing. Datamation released a story, Why Google Will Dominate Cloud Computing, which shows Google’s position in fourth. Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are above the search giant in cloud infrastructure services when looking at the fourth quarter market share and revenue growth for 2015. The article explains why Google appears to be struggling,

“Yet as impressive as its tech prowess is, GCP’s ability to cater to the prosaic needs of enterprise cloud customers has been limited, even fumbling. Google has always focused more on selling its own services rather than hosting legacy applications, but these legacy apps are the engine that drives business. Remarkably, GCP customers don’t get support for Oracle software, as they do on Amazon Web Services. Alas, catering to the needs of enterprise clients isn’t about deep genius – it’s about working with others. GCP has been like the high school student with straight A’s and perfect SAT scores that somehow doesn’t have too many friends.”

Despite the current situation, the article hypothesizes Google Cloud Platform may have an edge in the long-term. This is quite a bold prediction. We wonder if Datamation may approach the goog to sell some ads. Probably not, as real journalists do not seek money, right?


Megan Feil, June 10, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Libraries Will Save the Internet

June 10, 2016

Libraries are more than place to check out free DVDs and books and use a computer.  Most people do not believe this and if you try to tell them otherwise, their eyes glaze offer and they start chanting “obsolete” under their breath.  BoingBoing, however, agrees that “How Libraries Can Save The Internet Of Things From The Web’s Centralized Fate”.  For the past twenty years, the Internet has become more centralized and content is increasingly reliant on proprietary sites, such as social media, Amazon, and Google.

Back in the old days, the greatest fear was that the government would take control of the Internet.  The opposite has happened with corporations consolidating the Internet.  Decentralization is taking place, mostly to keep the Internet anonymous.  Usually, these are tied to the Dark Web.  The next big thing in the Internet is “the Internet of things,” which will be mostly decentralized and that can be protected if the groundwork is laid now.  Libraries can protect decentralized systems, because

“Libraries can support a decentralized system with both computing power and lobbying muscle. The fights libraries have pursued for a free, fair and open Internet infrastructure show that we’re players in the political arena, which is every bit as important as servers and bandwidth.  What would services built with library ethics and values look like? They’d look like libraries: Universal access to knowledge. Anonymity of information inquiry. A focus on literacy and on quality of information. A strong service commitment to ensure that they are available at every level of power and privilege.”

Libraries can teach people how to access services like Tor and disseminate the information to a greater extent than many other institutes within the community.  While this is possible, in many ways it is not realistic due to many factors.  Many of the decentralized factors are associated with the Dark Web, which is held in a negative light.  Libraries also have limited budgets and trying to install a program like this will need finances, which the library board might not want to invest in.  Also comes the problem of locating someone to teach these services.  Many libraries are staffed by librarians that are limited in their knowledge, although they can learn.

It is possible, it would just be hard.


Whitney Grace, June 10, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Possible Goodbye to the Dark Web

June 7, 2016

Should the Dark Web be eradicated? An article from Mic weighs in with an editorial entitled, Shutting Down the Dark Web Is a Plainly Absurd Idea From Start to Finish. Where is this idea coming from? Apparently 71 percent of internet users believe the Dark Web “should be shut down”. This statistic is according to a survey of over 24,000 people from Canadian think tank Centre for International Governance Innovation. The Mic article takes issue with the concept that the Dark Web could be “shut down”,

“The Dark Net, or Deep Web or a dozen other names, isn’t a single set of sites so much as a network of sites that you need special protocols or software in order to find. Shutting down the network would mean shutting down every site and relay. In the case of the private web browser Tor, this means simultaneously shutting down over 7,000 secret nodes worldwide. The combined governments of various countries have enough trouble keeping the Pirate Bay from operating right on the open web, never mind trying to shut down an entire network of sites with encrypted communications and hidden IP addresses hosted worldwide.”

The feasibility of shutting down the Dark Web is also complicated by the fact that there are multiple networks, such as Tor, Freenet or I2P, that allow Dark Web access. Of course, there is also the issue, as the article acknowledges, that many uses of the Dark Web are benign or even to further human rights causes. We appreciated a similar article from Softpedia, which pointed to the negative public perception stemming from media coverage of the takedown child pornography and drug sales site takedowns. It’s hard to know what isn’t reported in mainstream media.


Megan Feil, June 7, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Signs of Life from Funnelback

May 19, 2016

Funnelback has been silent as of late, according to our research, but the search company has emerged from the tomb with eyes wide open and a heartbeat.  The Funnelback blog has shared some new updates with us.  The first bit of news is if you are “Searchless In Seattle? (AKA We’ve Just Opened A New Office!)” explains that Funnelback opened a new office in Seattle, Washington.   The search company already has offices in Poland, United Kingdom, and New Zealand, but now they want to establish a branch in the United States.  Given their successful track record with the finance, higher education, and government sectors in the other countries they stand a chance to offer more competition in the US.  Seattle also has a reputable technology center and Funnelback will not have to deal with the Silicon Valley group.

The second piece of Funnelback news deals with “Driving Channel Shift With Site Search.”  Channel shift is the process of creating the most efficient and cost effective way to deliver information access and usage to users.  It can be difficult to implement a channel shift, but increasing the effectiveness of a Web site’s search can have a huge impact.

Being able to quickly and effectively locate information on a Web site saves time for not only more important facts, but it also can drive sales, further reputation, etc.

“You can go further still, using your search solution to provide targeted experiences; outputting results on maps, searching by postcode, allowing for short-listing and comparison baskets and even dynamically serving content related to what you know of a visitor, up-weighting content that is most relevant to them based on their browsing history or registered account.

Couple any of the features above with some intelligent search analytics, that highlight the content your users are finding and importantly what they aren’t finding (allowing you to make the relevant connections through promoted results, metadata tweaking or synonyms), and your online experience is starting to become a lot more appealing to users than that queue on hold at your call centre.”

I have written about it many times, but a decent Web site search function can make or break a site.  Not only does it demonstrate that the Web site is not professional, it does not inspire confidence in a business.  It is a very big rookie mistake to make.


Whitney Grace, May 19, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Mastering SEO Is Mastering the Internet

May 5, 2016

Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is one of the prime tools Web site owners must master in order for their site to appear in search results.   A common predicament most site owners find themselves in is that they may have a fantastic page, but if a search engine has not crawled it, the site might as well not exist.  There are many aspects to mastering SEO and it can be daunting to attempt to make a site SEO friendly.  While there are many guides that explain SEO, we recommend Mattias Geniar’s “A Technical Guide To SEO.”

Some SEO guides get too much into technical jargon, but Geniar’s approach uses plain speak so even if you have the most novice SEO skills it will be helpful.  Here is how Geniar explains it:

“If you’re the owner or maintainer of a website, you know SEO matters. A lot. This guide is meant to be an accurate list of all technical aspects of search engine optimisation.  There’s a lot more to being “SEO friendly” than just the technical part. Content is, as always, still king. It doesn’t matter how technically OK your site is, if the content isn’t up to snuff, it won’t do you much good.”

Understanding the code behind SEO can be challenging, but thank goodness content remains the most important aspect part of being picked up by Web crawlers.  These tricks will only augment your content so it is picked up quicker and you will receive more hits on your site.


Whitney Grace, May 5, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Force of the Dark Web May Not Need Sides

April 14, 2016

The name “Dark Web” has sensational language written all over it. Such a label calls for myth-busting articles to be published, such as the recent one from Infosecurity Magazine, The Dark Web — Is It All Bad?. This piece highlights the opinions of James Chappell, CTO and Co-founder of Digital Shadows, who argues the way the Dark Web is portrayed in the media pigeonholes sites accessible by Tor as for criminal purposes. Chappell is quoted,

“Looking at some of the press coverage you could be forgiven for thinking that the Dark Web is solely about criminality,” he told Infosecurity. “In reality, this is not the case and there are many legitimate uses alongside the criminal content that can be found on these services. Significantly – criminality is an internet-wide problem, rather than exclusively a problem limited to just the technologies that are labelled with the Dark Web.”

The author’s allusion to Star Wars’ divided force, between supposed “good” and “bad” seems an appropriate analogy to the two sides of the internet. However, with a slightly more nuanced perspective, could it not be argued that Jedi practices, like those of the Sith, are also questionable? Binaries may be our preferred cultural tropes, as well as the building blocks of computer software programming, but let’s not forget the elements of variability: humans and time.


Megan Feil, April 14, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Cybercriminal Talent Recruitment Moves Swiftly on the Dark Web

April 8, 2016

No matter the industry, it’s tough to recruit and keep talent. As the Skills shortage hits hackers published by Infosecurity Magazine reports, cybercriminals are no exception. Research conducted by Digital Shadows shows an application process exists not entirely dissimilar from that of tradition careers. The jobs include malware writers, exploit developers, and botnet operators. The article explains how Dark Web talent is recruited,

“This includes job ads on forums or boards, and weeding out people with no legitimate technical skills. The research found that the recruitment process often requires strong due diligence to ensure that the proper candidates come through the process. Speaking to Infosecurity, Digital

Shadows’ Vice President of Strategy Rick Holland said that in the untrusted environment of the attacker, reputation is as significant as in the online world and if someone does a bad job, then script kiddies and those who have inflated their abilities will be called out.”

One key difference cited is the hiring timeline; the Dark Web moves quickly. As you might imagine, apparently only a short window of opportunity to cash in stolen credit cards. The sense of urgency related to many Dark Web activities suggests speedier cybersecurity solutions are on the scene. As cybercrime-as-a-service expands, criminals’ efforts and attacks will only be swifter.


Megan Feil, April 8, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Forget World Population, Domain Population Is Overcrowded

April 5, 2016

Back in the 1990s, if you had a Web site without a bunch of gobbidly-gook after the .com, you were considered tech savvy and very cool.  There were plenty of domain names available in those days and as the Internet became more of a tool than a novelty, demand for names rose. It is not as easy anymore to get the desired Web address, says in the article, “Overcrowded Internet Domain Space Is Stifling Demand, Suggesting A Future ‘Not-Com’ Boom.”

Domain names are being snapped up fast, so quickly, in fact, that Web development is being stunted.  As much as 25% of domains are being withheld, equaling 73 million as of summer 2015 with the inability to register domain names that would drive Internet traffic.

“However, as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has begun to roll out the option to issue brand new top-level domains for almost any word, whether it’s dot-hotel, dot-books or dot-sex – dubbed the ‘not-coms’ – the research suggests there is substantial untapped demand that could fuel additional growth in the domain registrations.”

One of the factors that determine prime Internet real estate is a simple, catchy Web address.  With new domains opening up beyond the traditional .org, .com, .net, .gov endings, an entire new market is also open for entrepreneurs to profit from.  People are already buying not-com’s for cheap with the intention to resale them for a pretty penny.  It bears to mention, however, that once all of the hot not-com’s are gone, we will be in the same predicament as we are now.  How long will that take?


Whitney Grace, April 5, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Secure Email on the Dark Web

April 1, 2016

Venturing safely onto the Dark Web can require some planning. To that end, FreedomHacker shares a “List of Secure Dark Web Email Providers in 2016.” The danger with Tor-accessible email providers, explains reporter Brandon Stosh, lies in shady third parties. He writes:

“It’s not that finding secure communications on Tor is a struggle, but it’s hard to find private lines not run by a rogue entity. Below we have organized a list of secure dark web email providers. Please remember that no email provider should ever be deemed secure, meaning always use encryption and keep your opsec to its highest level….

“Below we have listed emails that are not only secure but utilize no type of third-party services, including any type of hidden Google scripts, fonts or trackers. In the list below we have gone ahead and pasted the full .onion domain for verification and added a link to any services who also offer a clearweb portal. However, all communications sent through clearweb domains should be presumed insecure unless properly encrypted, then still it’s questionable.”

The list of providers includes 10 entries, and Stosh supplies a description of each of the top five: Sigaint, Rugged Inbox, Torbox, Bitmessage, and Mail2Tor; see the article for these details, and to view the other five contenders. Stosh wraps up by emphasizing how important email security is, considering all the sensitive stuff most of us have in our inboxes. Good point.


Cynthia Murrell, April 1, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

For Sale: Your Bank Information

March 21, 2016

One of the common commodities for sale on the Dark Web is bank, credit card, social security numbers, and other personal information.  This information can sell for a few bucks to hundreds of dollars depending on the quality and quantity of the information.   In order to buy personal information, usually the interested parties must journey to the Dark Web, but the International Business Times tells us that “Confidential Bank Details Available For Sale On Easily Found Web Site”  is for sale on the general Web and the information is being sold for as little as a couple pounds (or dollars for the US folks).  The Web site had a pretty simple set up, interested parties register, and then they have access to the stolen information for sale.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, wants the National Crime Agency (NCA) to use its power and fulfill its purpose to shut the Web site down.

“A statement from the NCA said: “We do not routinely confirm or deny investigations nor comment on individual sites. The NCA, alongside UK and international law enforcement partners and the private sector, are working to identify and as appropriate disrupt websites selling compromised card data. We will work closely with partners of the newly established Home Office Joint Fraud Task Force to strengthen the response.”

Online scams are getting worse and more powerful in stealing people’s information.  Overall, British citizens lost a total of 670 million pounds (or $972 million).  The government, however, believes the total losses are more in the range of 27 billion pounds (or $39.17 billion).

Scams are getting worse, because the criminals behind them are getting smarter and know how to get around security defenses.  Users need to wise up and learn about the Dark Web, take better steps to protect their information, and educate themselves on how to recognize scams.


Whitney Grace, March 21, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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