DarkCyber for October 19, 2021: DDoS Takedown, More NSO Group PR, VPN Shift, and Autonomous Kills

October 19, 2021

DarkCyber reports about cyber security, online services, and smart software. You can view this program at this url.

This edition of the program includes four stories:

  1. The US Department of Justice terminated 15 Internet domains involved in denial of service functions. These offered crime as a service and allowed customers to launch DDoS attacks with minimal technical expertise.
  2. The NSO Group captured headlines again. The result of revelations in a British legal proceeding resulted in the Israeli specialized services firm firing one of its Middle Eastern clients.
  3. Roll ups are popular among some financial experts. Aggregation means less competition and greater market reach. Consolidation is underway in the virtual private network sector. Will Kape Technology’s acquisition of Private Internet Access and Express VPN produce benefits for customers?
  4. The final story explores the most innovative facet of Israel’s alleged autonomous termination of a nuclear scientist. The smart software is just part of the story.

DarkCyber is produced by Stephen E Arnold, publisher of Beyond Search.

Kenny Toth, October 19, 2021

Zoom Blunders Can Be Tricky for Employees

October 5, 2021

Zoom meetings seemed like the logical answer to collaborating from home during the pandemic, and its popularity is likely to last. However, asks Hacker Noon, “Has Zoom Made Us ‘Embrace the Dark Side’ of Humanity?” Writer Michael Brooks, a remote-worker since long before COVID, came across some startling information. He tells us:

“I stumbled upon a Bloomberg article with an axing title: ‘Zoom-Call Gaffes Led to Someone Getting Axed, 1 in 4 Bosses Say.’ According to the results of a survey conducted by Vyopta Inc., which included ‘200 executives at the vice president level or higher at companies with at least 500 employees,’ nearly 25% of employees got fired. Why?! Wait! What? What in the world do you need to do during a Zoom call or any other virtual meeting or conference to get fired? It turns out that ‘mortal-virtual-sins’ include ‘joining a call late, having a bad Internet connection, accidentally sharing sensitive information, and of course, not knowing when to mute yourself.’”

A severe penalty indeed for folks working with an unfamiliar platform amidst the distractions of home, all while coping with the stresses of a global plague. Brooks describes how one might handle similar situations with more compassion:

“There was a baby crying loud in the middle of a meeting with my staff. I asked a proud dad, a member of our team, to introduce an adorable noisemaker. The baby joined and stayed throughout a meeting in her father’s arms. There was another team member who kept forgetting to hit the mute button when she wasn’t talking. The background noise was deafening as if she was calling from the busiest construction site in the world. … For the next meeting, the whole team pretended that there was something wrong with her mic. It lasted for a couple of hilarious minutes. Since then, we’ve never had to remind someone to mute themselves.”

Brooks wonders whether some gaffs represent a sort of rebellion against too much Zooming. If so, one’s job is a high price to pay. He suggests frustrated workers discuss the matter with bosses and coworkers instead of passive-aggressively sabotaging meetings. As for employers, they might want to consider lightening up a bit instead of axing a quarter of their talent for very human errors.

Cynthia Murrell, October 5, 2021

DarkCyber for October 5, 2021, Now Available

October 5, 2021

DarkCyber Number 20 for October 5, 2021 is available at this link. The program focuses on artificial intelligence operations or AIOps. The 11 minute program reviews how AIOps work, applications for law enforcement and intelligence activities, upsides, and downsides. The methods discussed include those of a late 1990s innovator implementing a method which has rippled over a 20 year period to the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab. Snorkel.ai — a start up with more than $132 million in funding — is an influential AIOps system used by a number of high profile companies. DarkCyber is produced by Stephen E Arnold, publisher of Beyond Search. The video is available on YouTube and via the splash page of Mr. Arnold’s blog, Beyond Search. The videos are not sponsored and contain no advertising.

Kenny Toth, October 5, 2021

DarkCyber for September 21, 2021 Now Available

September 21, 2021

DarkCyber for September 21, 2021, reports about the Dark Web, cyber crime, and lesser known Internet services. The program is produced every two weeks. This is the 19th show of 2021. There are no sponsored stories nor advertisements. The program provides basic information about subjects which may not have been given attention in other forums. The program is available at this link.

This week’s program includes five stories.

First, we provide information about two online services which offer content related to nuclear weapons. Neither source has been updated for a number of months. If you have an interest in this subject, you may want to examine the information in the event it is disappeared.

Second, you will learn about Spyfone. DarkCyber’s approach is to raise the question, “What happens when specialized software once considered “secret” by some nation states becomes available to consumers.

Third, China has demonstrated its control of certain online companies; for example, Apple. The country can cause certain applications to be removed from online stores. The argument is that large US companies, like a French bulldog, must be trained in order stay in the Middle Kingdom.

Fourth, we offer two short items about malware delivered in interesting ways. The first technique is put malicious code in a video card’s graphics processing unit. The second summarizes how “free” games have become a vector for compromising network security.

The final story reports that a Russian manufacturer of drones is taking advantage of a relaxed policy toward weapons export. The Russian firm will produce Predator-like drones in countries which purchase the unmanned aerial vehicles. The technology includes 3D printing, specialized software, and other advanced manufacturing techniques. The program includes information about they type of kinetic weapons these drones can launch.

DarkCyber is produced by Stephen E Arnold and his DarkCyber research team. You can download the program from the Beyond Search blog or from YouTube.

Kenny Toth, September 21, 2021

DarkCyber for September 7, 2021 Now Available

September 7, 2021

DarkCyber is a twice-a-month video news program about the Dark Web, cyber crime, and lesser known Internet services. Program 18 includes stories about China’s information war fighting. The program explains three services which allow anyone to find the individual to which a US license plate has been registered. Crypto currency for criminal activities is playing a larger and larger role in illegal activities. How can you determine the level of risk associated with a particular digital currency transaction. DarkCyber points to a service which provides extremely useful information. The US government has released yet another report about facial recognition. Learn the three systems which are relied upon by several US government entities. There’s a great deal of chatter about nation stations which are sponsoring cyber attacks on the US. These stories often overlook the ease with which an insider can be instrumental in providing access to an allegedly secure network. And, finally, we explain how the Hellfire missile equipped with fragmenting blades has sliced and diced its way into Afghani history. DarkCyber is a production of Stephen E Arnold. The program appears every two weeks. This week’s program is available on the Beyond Search blog and on YouTube.

Kenny Toth, September 7, 2021

Need a Job? TikTok or TikNot?

September 6, 2021

I read “Employer Pitfalls of the TikTok Resume Trend.” Some organizations, eager to beef up their social media offensive line, are prowling TikTok for candidates. Those seeking “real” jobs (sort of) are posting TikTok video resumes. The write up states:

Human resources industry experts have long cautioned companies about peeping at the social media accounts of job applicants. The drawbacks of using social media in professional contexts are exactly the same even if the platform differs. Employers who use TikTok, Facebook, Twitter or other social networks to evaluate job candidates run certain risks, including overlooking potentially strong non-video savvy applicants or unwittingly succumbing to bias, Stevens [a headhunter] says. Social media profiles and TikTok resumes almost always include user images, which can reveal the candidate’s age, race, weight and level of attractiveness—factors that are more easily obscured in a resume.

There are other risks as well. How about old tweets or posts like those which wrapped Sony and Jeopardy in late night comedy jibes. Imagine a Timnit Gebru-type of matter in which TikTok videos are evidence in court?

Try explaining that to a judge and jury.

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2021

TikTok Is Big and Growing Bigger

August 26, 2021

The Twitter of video is roiding up.

Why are we not surprised? Nikkei reveals results of its recent global survey of downloads in, “TikTok Overtakes Facebook as World’s Most Downloaded App.” Writer Rei Nakafuji reminds us:

“Some believe that personal information shared with TikTok is not secure. In 2020, former President Donald Trump called on the company to sell off its U.S. operations or be banned. The app’s popularity nevertheless grew during the pandemic, when it became the leading download in Europe, South America and the U.S. Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, withdrew the presidential executive order, but uncertainties remain elsewhere.”

Despite these uncertainties, it seems the sky is the limit for TikTok. The write-up reports that, in the US and UK, total viewing time for the app has surpassed that for YouTube. We notice there is even a service now, named Heepsy, that helps advertisers find influencers to promote their brands. Its description reads simply:

“Find TikTok influencers who fulfill your brand’s requirements in a matter of seconds. Filter by location, follower count, and engagement. Check out their location, engagement rate, follower count, and total number of videos.”

Are Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube getting nervous about TikTok’s ascendance? We are curious to see what countermeasures each will deploy.

Cynthia Murrell, August 26, 2021

DarkCyber for August 24, 2021, Now Available

August 24, 2021

The program for August 24, 2021, is now available at this link. This program, number 17 in the 2021 series, contains five stories. These are:

The NSO Group matter has produced some interesting knock on effects.

The consequence of NSO Group’s activities include criticism from the United Nations and Edward Snowden, a whistle blower and resident of Moscow. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was remarkable.

The core technology for the antagonists is discussed. You will learn about the musician Tankz and his method for making illegal credit card fraud accessible to young people in the UK and elsewhere. In addition to alleged financial crime, Tankz sings about Pyrex whipping. Ask your children what this is and then decide if you need to take action.

The program includes another reminder than one can find anti-security actors on the Regular Web and the Dark Web. The challenge is to make sure you do not become the victim of a scam.

The US government created an interesting report about nuclear war. It is not clear how lo9ng this document will remain available from a public Web server. You can check the link in the DarkCyber video for yourself. Tip: The document explains how the US may select a target for a nuclear strike.

The final story reports that the drone called Avenger has a new capability: Autonomous decision capability enabled by track and follow electronics. No human operator needed when a target is identified.

DarkCyber is produced by Stephen E Arnold and the DarkCyber research team. New programs appear every two weeks unless one of the video distribution services decides to remove the content derived from open sources of information. Tankz and a fellow traveler named DankDex, purveyor of the Fraud Bible, appear to post without pushback.

Kenny Toth, August 24, 2021

Traditional Sports Media: Sucking Dust and Breathing Fumes?

August 12, 2021

The TikTok video format is becoming a norm core channel. I want to mention that Amazon Twitch is having a new media moment as well. I read “Lionel Messi’s Twitch App Interview Shows How Social Media Is Conquering Sports.” Note that this link is generated by DailyHunt and the story itself is output by smart software; thus, the link may be dead, and there’s not much I can do to rectify the situation.

The story contained this statement, which may be spot or or just wild and crazy Internet digital baloney:

Spanish influencer Ibai Llanos chatted with Lionel Messi on Amazon.com Inc.’s streaming platform Twitch after the world’s best-paid athlete signed with French soccer club Paris Saint Germain from Barcelona.

Here’s the kicker (yep, Messi-esque I know):

More than 3,17,000 people watched the exclusive interview, the kind of prestigious content that would often be sold to the highest bidder for TV broadcast in different territories. Llanos was introduced to Messi by Sergio Aguero, a fellow Barcelona player and video-game enthusiast who is friendly with the social media celebrity. Sports viewing is shifting steadily onto streaming platforms, and even overtaking traditional broadcast TV in the Asia Pacific region, according to GlobalWebIndex.

What? Twitch? Who is the star? Messi? The write up states:

Soccer clubs are eager to tap this new revenue source after they were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, especially as they need to win over younger audiences who enjoy video gaming just as much as traditional sports. Llanos has drawn 7 million Twitch followers since he started out commenting on esports tournaments from his home. He’s brought a humorous commenting style to everything from toy-car races to chess games. He’s now becoming a sports entrepreneur in his own right, collaborating with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique to broadcast the Copa America soccer competition in Spain. Llanos streamed a top-tier Spanish game for the first time in April under a deal between the Spanish league and TV rights owner Mediapro.

Observations I jotted down as I worked through this “smart software” output:

  1. Amazon Twitch plays a part in this shift to an influencer, streaming platform, and rights holder model
  2. The pivot point Llanos has direct access and channel options
  3. Eyeballs clump around the “force” of the stream, the personalities, and those who want to monetize this semi-new thing.

Big deal? Well, not for me, but for those with greyhounds in the race, yep. Important if true.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2021

ECommerce to VCommerce the TikTok Way

August 9, 2021

TikTok is the most popular non-gaming app downloaded in the Western world. Amazingly it is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Limited. Trump attempted to ban it during his tenure, but failed. The Taipei Times published a Bloomberg Opinion entitled, “TikTok eyes E-Commerce, Gaming And Everything Else” about ByteDance’s future for TikTok. It is astounding how much TikTok has grown over the past year:

“TikTok’s growth and the level of its user engagement have been remarkable. According to Sensor Tower, the app was the most downloaded and highest-grossing non-game during the first half of this year, surpassing 3 billion total installs. Analysts expect TikTok to keep growing faster than its competitors, and industry tracker eMarketer projects that the app’s user base in the US would rise 18 percent this year, compared with a 1 percent increase for Facebook Inc and a 4 percent gain for Facebook’s Instagram.

Most impressive of all, TikTok users are growing more addicted to the short-video service. Research firm App Annie has said that the app has surpassed Google’s YouTube for average time spent per user in the US and the UK.”

TikTok’s competitors are ramping up their own game. Facebook will upgrade Instagram to also be a mobile video entertainment platform. YouTube and Snap Inc. started their own short-video services and are paying creators for content. TikTok is expected to remain the top short-video platform due to its popularity, continues to add new features, and creators do not need to go anywhere else.

TikTok’s current job listings have over one hundred listings for e-commerce positions and nearly ninety with the word “live.” ByteDance wants to become the one stop hub for live-streaming social commerce and they plan to focus on several industries: fashion, beauty, lifestyle, technology, and anything else that allows them to sell merchandise directly through the platform. ByteDance already does this with TikTok’s Chinese counterpart, Douyin.

TikTok could face regulatory action in the US, because it might pose a data-security risk. It could complicate TikTok’s initial public offering, but any advertising is good. Making TikTok “illegal” could make not all the more appealing.

Whitney Grace, August 9, 2021

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