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The congressional sham

The papers are ‘covering’ live the entire Facebook hearing, we see several papers covering it and I think that this is a good thing. Yet, most papers are not without flaws. The fact that I have been writing about the entire mess of data privacy since 2013 makes it to the best of my knowledge a Capitol sham at best (pun intended) . you see, these so called senators are all up in arms and we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-hearing-congress-testimony) give quotes like “from data privacy to Russian disinformation“, you see, it is a lot less about data privacy than it is about the Russians. The anti-communist gene in Americans is too strong; the yanks get too emotional and become utterly useless in the process. So is it about the 44 senators grilling Mark Zuckerberg, is it about their limelight and about their re-election visibility, or is it about global data privacy? I can guarantee you now that it will not be about the last part and as such we will see a lot more warped issues shine on the congressional dance floor.

In that regard, when you read “They demanded new detail about how Facebook collects and uses data and elicited assurances that it will implement major improvements in protecting personal privacy“, it might be about that, but it will be a lot more on oversight and how the US government wants to be able to ‘check’ all that data. They wanted access to all that data since Facebook became one year old. So when we see ‘Sen. Kennedy: “I don’t want to have to vote to regulate Facebook, but by god, I will. That depends on you.”‘ you better believe that the ‘depends on you‘ can be read as ‘as long as you give us access to all your data‘, which contains the shoe that fumbles.

So when we see “Several asked for detailed answers about how private, third-party companies, such as the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, gained access to personal data on 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans“, we see the valid question, yet that did not require a congressional hearing, so that is merely the icing that hides the true base element of the cake. It is the honourable Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee that gives the first goods: “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook”, you see, freedom of data and misuse of information as set by insurances. The statements like ‘Insurance companies warn that under certain circumstances, posting about your holidays on social media could result in your claim being declined if you are burgled‘. These senators were not really that interested in all this whilst the entire insurance issues have been playing as early as 2010; they were likely too busy looking somewhere else. The entire privacy mess is a lot larger. We see this at the Regis University site when we take a look at: “A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reveals nearly one in five Americans (19%) has been the victim of some form of cyber stalking, defined as any persistent and unwanted online contact with another individual. Through aggressive social media contact, repeated emails or other methods of online connectivity, cyber stalkers represent a serious and growing threat to men and women who otherwise wish to disengage from those who make them feel uncomfortable. Still, the NCSA report shows only 39% of those who believed they were being stalked online reported the incident to authorities“, so was there a senatorial hearing then? No, there was not. In addition, a situation where one in 5 Americans is subject to stalking, yet in all those years almost nothing was done. Why is that? Is that because the overwhelming numbers of these victims have tits and a vagina, or merely because they are less likely to be communist in nature?

Does this offend you?

Too bad, it is the direct consequence of inaction which makes todays issue almost a farce. I stated almost! So, is the issue that the data was downloaded, or that the data on millions of Americans is now in the hands of others and not in the hands of the US government? This loaded question is a lot more important than you might think.

The fact that this is a much larger farce is seen when the Democrat from Illinois decides to open his mouth. It is seen in “Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), asked Zuckerberg what hotel he stayed at Monday night and the names of anyone he messaged this week“, was it to break the ice? If all 44 senators do that, then we see evidence why the US government can’t get anything done. It is actually another Democrat that gives rise to issues. It is seen in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “We’ve seen the apology tours before… I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are different rules of the road.”, the man makes a good case, but I am not certain if he is correct. You see, unless the US government is ready to lash out massively in the abuse of data towards any corporation found using social media on exploiting the privacy of its members, and insurers are merely one part in all this. You see, the rules of the road have been negated for some time in different directions, unless you are willing to protect the users of social media by corporate exploitation, Richard Blumenthal should not really be talking about traffic rules, should he? This directly links to the fact that 90% of hedge funds were using social media in 2014. Were they properly looked at? I wonder where those 44 senators were when that all went down.

The one part that will actually become a larger case comes from Massachusetts. “Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) plans to introduce a new bill Tuesday called the CONSENT Act that would require social giants like Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data“, it will change the business model where data is no longer shared, or sold, but another model where all this is set up by Facebook and he advertiser can get the results of visibility in top line results. That is the path Facebook would likely push for, a more Google approach in their setting of AdWords and Google analytics. Facebook is ready to a much larger extent on this and it is a likely path to follow for Facebook after all this. Yet in all this the theatre of congress will go on a little longer, we will know soon enough. In the end 44 senators will push regarding “The Federal Trade Commission is investigating violations of a 2011 consent decree over privacy policy at Facebook that could lead to record fines against the company“, in the end it will be about money and as it is more likely that the data on Americans made it to Russia, the fine will be as astronomically high as they could possibly make it. They will state in some way that the debt of 21 trillion will have nothing to do with that, or so they will claim. In the end Mark Zuckerberg partially did this too himself, he will get fined and so he should, but the entire theatre and the likelihood that the fine is going to be way overboard, whilst in equal measure these senators will not chase the other transgressors is a much larger case and calls for even more concern. You see, there is a much larger congressional sham in play. It was exposed by Clay Johnson, formerly of the Sunlight Foundation, (more at http://www.congressfoundation.org/news/blog/912). The issue is not merely “On the Hill, congressional staff do not have the tools that they need to quickly distill meaning from the overwhelming volume of communications that they receive on any given day“, it is that Facebook has been able to add well over 400% pressure to that inability. That given is what also drives the entire matter of division in American voters. I myself did not think that ‘fake’ news on events did any serious damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton, from my point of view; she did that all to herself during her inaction of the Benghazi events.

In the end I believe that the bulk will go after Mark Zuckerberg for whatever reason they think they have, whilst all hiding behind the indignation of ‘transplanted data‘. The fact that doing this directly hit the value that the rest of his data has is largely ignored by nearly all players. In addition, the fact that the BBC gave us ‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data‘ less than 12 hours ago is further evidence still. So when will these 44 senators summon Tim Cook? The fact that the BBC gives us “Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it” and the fact that this is a given truth and has been for a few years, because you the consumer signed over your rights, is one of those ignored traffic rules, so the statement that Richard Blumenthal gave is a lot larger than even he might have considered. It is still a good point of view to have, yet this shown him to be either less correct on the whole, or it could be used as evidence that too many senators have been sitting on their hands for many years and in that matter the least stated on the usefulness of the European Commission the better. So when we read “The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission“, we see that Equifax is missing from that list is also a matter for concern, especially when we consider the events that Palantir uncovered, whilst at the same time we ignore what Palantir Gotham is capable of. I wonder how many US senators are skating around that subject. We see part of that evidence in Fortune, were (at http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/equifax-attack-avoiding-hacks/) we see “Lauren Penneys, who heads up business development at Palantir, advised companies to get their own data and IT assets in order—both to better understand what risks do exist and to improve readiness to respond when a breach does happen“, she is right and she (validly) does not mention what Palantir Gotham is truly capable of when we combine the raw data from more than one corporate source. With the upcoming near exponential growth of debt collection, and they all rely on data and skip tracing of social media data, we see a second issue, which these senators should have been aware of for well over two years. So how protective have they been of citizens against the invasion of privacy on such matters from the Wall Street Golden Child? Even in London, places like Burford Capital Ltd are more and more reliant on a range of social media data and as such it will not be about traffic rules as the superrich are hunted down. We might not care about that, mainly because they are superrich. Yet as this goes on, how long until the well dries up and they set their nets in a much wider setting?

We claim that we are humane and that we set the foundation for morally just actions, but are we? The BBC actually partially addresses this with: “Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester Research in New York, who covers data brokers, says a common belief in the industry is that only “50% of this data is accurate” So why does any of this matter? Because this “ridiculous marketing data”, as Ms Dixon calls it, is now determining life chances” and that is where the shoe truly hurts, at some point in the near future we will be denied chances and useless special rebates, because the data did not match, we will be seen as a party person instead of a sport person, at which point out premiums would have been ‘accidently’ 7% too high and in that same person we will be targeted for social events and not sport events, we will miss out twice and soon thereafter 4 fold, with each iteration of wrong data the amount of misconceptions will optionally double with each iteration. All based on data we never signed up for or signed off on, so how screwed is all this and how can this congressional hearing be seen as nothing more than a sham. Yes, some questions needs to be answered and they should, yet that could have been done in a very different setting, so as we see the Texan republican as the joke he is in my personal view, we see “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about 2016 reports that the company had removed conservative political news from its trending stories box, and followed up with questions about its moderators’ political views. When Zuckerberg said he didn’t ask employees for their political views, Cruz followed up with “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”“, we wonder if he had anything substantial to work with at all. So when you wonder why Zuckerberg is being grilled, ask yourself, what was this about? Was it merely about abuse of data by a third party? If that is so, why is Tim Cook not sitting next to Zuckerberg? More important, as I have shown some of these issues for close to 5 years, why was action not taken sooner? Is that not the more pressing question to see answered?

 

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Despite the missing facts


The UK is in all kinds of shambles, some could have been prevented, some remains unclear and some are just due to the whims of media. So when I saw ‘Britain is leaving the EU – just as Europe is on the up‘ I decided to take a look, because it is ‘on the up‘ that is an issue. Former editor of Le Monde (high quality French newspaper) Natalie Nougayrède gives her views (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/18/brexit-europe-eu-golden-decade-merkel-macron) with illustration and all. Yes, it is the image that shows how far away the UK is. Of course the article starts with Helmut Kohl, there is nothing like the death of a politician to milk the issue as much as you can. Yet it is the quote “Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are, as Britain prepares to leave, readying their ambitions and vision for the continent“. Is that so? Leave it to a former investment banker to shed his skin like a serpent on the change of any wind. Didn’t he promise certain hard changes? We can tell you now that this is a change he did not keep, which is not that much of a surprise. You see, the people who would not give him the light of day are now talking the talk he comprehends. Credit Agricole Group, BNP Paribas, Society Generale, Natixis. Yes ,as president of France these people will now call on him, woe him and explain on the need of the gravy train. Yes, Emmanuel Macron will definitely show a few more changes before the year is out. It is the next quote that should scare the French and not by a little bit. with “The thinking goes like this: in the next two to three years, as France carries out structural economic reforms to boost its credibility, Germany will step up much-needed European financial solidarity and investment mechanisms, and embrace a new role on foreign policy, security and defence.” With ‘boost its credibility‘ can be pushed in deeper debt. So as France is currently well over 2.2 trillion euro in debt, that debt could be even greater, which is good for the earlier mentioned banks, but for the freedom of the French people it is not that great a move. and why do we see: ‘embrace a new role on security and defence‘? France has a clear need to embrace more security and safety for France and the French, yet the need of adaptation of a new role implies a consolidated European army which is not just counterproductive, it could spell a dangerous waste of trillions of euro’s all over Europe. The biggest issue is however “Europe’s economic situation has improved. Unemployment in the Eurozone is at its lowest since 2009 (but still at 9.5%). Growth has returned. Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, speaks of “a solid and broad recovery”“, which is an issue on more than one front. First by his own view, Mario Draghi gives us: “inflation in the currency area sank to 1.4 per cent, which is below the bank’s target, although Mr Draghi said “deflation risks have definitely gone away”“, which is part of the story, the Swedish Nyhetsbanken gives us: ““The ECB is essentially in a holding pattern”, said Patrick O’Donnell, a fund manager with Aberdeen Asset Management in London“, which also giving us the goods with: “We expect the European Central Bank to announce in September, when new forecasts will be available, that tapering will begin in January as deflation risks have vanished“. This is all nice, yet it is all linked to Mario Draghi increasing the debt to Europe by 60 billion Euro’s every month, the total should increase the total debt by close to 2 trillion Euro over the two waves of ‘easing’, so when you see ‘economic situation has improved’, the question is for who did the situation improve? The European quality of life is far below what it was in 2008 for roughly 99.999456% of the people of Europe.

Interesting how Natalie Nougayrède skates around that part and with the German-France union. So, should we see this as perhaps a Union of the Somme, or perhaps the Merger of Artois? We can agree that ‘Europe’ would like to continue without the UK and they would want to steer in a direction that gives them the best options. Yet the clarity of denial, that claims are made whilst none of the governments in the EU can keep a decent budget, whilst they are all in deficit and France in truly deep debt. Whilst Greece is still bleeding all over the place, and on top of that Mario Draghi is printing 60,000,000,000 euro’s every month with no value against it. In all this we see more denial of events. So when I see the quote “But in recent discussions with European experts and officials, I heard the following comment: “A golden decade may be dawning for Europe.” A new narrative is in the air“, a golden dawn for whom? The banks, the exploiters? I would like to see the names of those officials and politicians. I am certain that those names will remain absent. It will be from people who are already wealthy beyond normal and this gravy train is fuelling their golden future day after day, whilst the serious reality is that for those retiring in the next 20 years, they will not have anything left, they are more than not in danger of having to work until their dying day.

So as we see the end of the article with “After a decade of crisis, Europe may now be pulling out of it. More British awareness of this might help avert bad choices.“, yes there are plenty aware of what is presented, yet as nobody seems to be able to muzzle Mario Draghi, as he keeps on pushing Europe into deeper debt whilst the offset is not seen in the presentation ‘Europe’s economic situation has improved‘, many people are getting more and more weary of the issue ‘what else are we being kept in the dark about?‘ This is important because the mistrust is actually growing. The media seems to be all about aiding those who advertise, giving rise to more misinformation. Yet the clear article that shows the whole picture is missing. Even here, in my blog the article is incomplete (and I actually admit to that), because the issue has grown beyond the mere image we can see. We can go to the art-house and watch the painting, but the wood behind the painting, what keeps up the image is not shown, so as the painting is geared again and again with more wood, with more nails and with more support, the people do not see that the painting is gaining weight more and more. The cost of that reinforcement is hidden from view whilst the image it supports remains the same, losing value day after day. Whilst a work of art increases in value, the paining is merely the view from our own window, the value resides with the person looking at it. So look out of your window, it does not matter which window, now consider that the actual value of the view lowers by 0.1% every day, how long until you feel that the house you own does not offer the view you paid for? Now consider that your house has a view valued at £0, what will you lose when you try to sell it? In France houses fell in value to 25% according to some. So as your house lost that, it means that you must keep on living there, which is of course not necessarily a bad thing when you have a nice house in Cognac, yet what happens when the place is in need of repairs, with a full mortgage whilst the value decreased 25%. Can you still repair your place? That is the danger we are in as retirement approaches for millions. The part that Natalie Nougayrède ignores as she probably has a really nice place, perhaps more than one. For tens of thousands of French, living in Cognac (16100) is a dream hat will never become a reality. That whilst the debt of France only increases, and that whilst the European non elected players are increasing the total EU debt whilst maximising the national debts of its members. It is only the board members of the banks that have reasons to smile. That is France and the UK is in a place that is not dissimilar. As people in the UK are pushed towards an anger over a building on fire, as they are outraged over what happens in Finsbury Park. You see, this all matters as it is the first true extremist action from a non-Muslim to a Muslim in London. The air is definitely changing, but not for the better and Europe could be a cauldron of extreme violence from several sides. So as we see and revisit “A European Defence fund is now being discussed, notably for joint procurement efforts” as well as “embrace a new role on foreign policy, security and defence” we need to ask, with what money? As I read it, it seems that some politicians are spending certain funds three times over, implying that debt will rise three times faster. Or perhaps it will be taken out of the national defence budgets? That should go over well when the national defence equipment breaks down whilst pushing the funds into some virtual non military defence setting. It should make any nation more secure! (read: sarcasm in action). Oh as for those needed security upgrades like from Palantir and whatever Raytheon IIS seems to be cooking up at present. So where are these billion dollar plus events getting funding from? So we might think that there is an upbeat to Europe, which would be nice, how good is that view when you contemplate the missing elements and those are just the ones I mention. I am not the European gatekeeper, so there are several issues on both sides of the isle I have not even considered myself.

In the end, I feel that the people of Europe will get a very ruse awakening in January 2018 when the total ludicrous spending by Mario Draghi is set in its complete lighting. At that point will you still feel happy? So as you consider that, consider the reason I mentioned Greece earlier. When we read: “ECB needs ‘more clarity’ on debt relief to buy Greek bonds” (source: Reuters). So as the ECB is buying the Greek debt, or perhaps better stated, invest into Greece and its inability to push the economy in a positive forward momentum. Is this a good or a really really bad investment? Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to aid the Greeks to get some relief, but as the Greek government let the culprits of the debt fiasco walk free with their millions, why should non-Greeks pay for that? So when you see “The European Central Bank needs more clarity on what kind of debt relief Greece will get from its international creditors if it is to buy Greek government bonds as part of its monetary stimulus program“. What stimulus? How will the Greek economy get any level of incentive whilst the creditors are still due billions? How misguided is the action (in light of the proclaimed reason)? And of course the IMF will get involved meaning that Wall Street will start giving out ‘advice’ soon thereafter. These steps are just beyond acceptable as the laws of prosecution against the transgressors are stopped and made toothless. So as Europe ‘embraces‘ wave after wave of additional debt, do you still think that the European economy is on the up, or was not listening to the UK a really bad idea? For France it is now too late. As Emmanuel Macron embraces the limelight with Angela Merkel the French will soon see that even as Marine Le Pen was never a given good, at least she was intent of getting France away from the Financial Vultures. Whomever thought that Marine Le Pen was an unacceptable idea, might feel to be on the political moral high ground, yet when their house depletes their value, those persons will not be allowed to complain. They set up the dropped value and accepted the terms of dissolving their value. In this I could have been incorrect only when the ECB did not decide to push quantative easing into play at sixty billion per month. And that is only if clear economic upturn could be proven, yet that too is not the case, it only seems that way when taking the QE out of the balance book. At best the European economy is merely stable at 0%, which means that it is going down by 60 billion a month (plus interest). An element I only mention at the very end because that part is not a clear given and even at 0.1% that requirement grows by 60 million per month, an amount that could have clearly solved a few European issues, and as that also grown by the same amount every month, what other solutions will need to get scrapped?

It is possible that I too missed a few facts, yet did I miss any on the positive side of it all? So at best me missing elements will show the situation to be worse, far worse.

So happy Monday to you and if you feel like hanging yourself, www.cheaprope.co.uk will have what you need, just not want you want.

 

 

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Room for Requirement

I looked at a few issues 3 days ago. I voiced them in my blog ‘The Right Tone‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/21/the-right-tone/), one day later we see ‘MI6 to recruit hundreds more staff in response to digital technology‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/21/mi6-recruit-digital-internet-social-media), what is interesting here is the quote “The information revolution fundamentally changes our operating environment. In five years’ time there will be two sorts of intelligence services: those that understand this fact and have prospered, and those that don’t and haven’t. And I’m determined that MI6 will be in the former category“, now compare it to the statement I had made one day earlier “The intelligence community needs a new kind of technological solution that is set on a different premise. Not just who is possibly guilty, but the ability of aggregation of data flags, where not to waste resources“, which is just one of many sides needed. Alex Younger also said: “Our opponents, who are unconstrained by conditions of lawfulness or proportionality, can use these capabilities to gain increasing visibility of our activities which means that we have to completely change the way that we do stuff”, I reckon the American expression: ‘He ain’t whistling Dixie‘ applies.

You see, the issue goes deeper than mere approach, the issue at hand is technology. The technology needs to change and the way data is handled requires evolution. I have been in the data field since the late 80’s and this field hasn’t changed too much. Let’s face it, parsing data is not a field that has seen too much evolving, for the mere reason that parsing is parsing and that is all about speed. So to put it on a different vehicle. We are entering an age where the intelligence community is about the haulage of data, yet in all this, it is the container itself that grows whilst the haulage is on route. So we need to find alternative matters to deal with the container content whilst on route.

Consider the data premise: ‘If data that needs processing grows by 500 man years of work on a daily basis‘, we have to either process smarter, create a more solutions to process, be smarter on what and how to process, or change the premise of time. Now let’s take another look. For this let’s take a look at a game, the game ‘No Man’s Sky’. This is not about gaming, but about the design. For decades games were drawn and loaded. A map, with its data map (quite literally so). Usually the largest part of the entire game. 11 people decided to use a formula to procedurally generate 18 quintillion planets. They created a formula to map the universe with planets, planet sized. This has never been done before! This is an important part. He turned it all around and moreover, he is sitting on a solution that is worth millions, it could even be worth billions. The reason to use this example is because games are usually the first field where the edge of hardware options are surpassed, broken and redesigned (and there is more at the end of this article). Issues that require addressing in the data field too.

Yet what approach would work?

That is pretty much the ‎£1 billion question. Consider the following situation: Data is being collected non-stop, minute by minute. Set into all kinds of data repositories. Now let’s have a fictive case. The chatter gives that in 72 hours an attack will take place, somewhere in the UK. It gives us the premise:

  1. Who
  2. Where
  3. How

Now consider the data. If we have all the phone records, who has been contacting who, through what methods and when? You see, it isn’t about the data, it is about linking collections from different sources and finding the right needle, that whilst the location, shape and size of the haystack are an unknown. Now, let’s say that the terrorist was really stupid and that number is known. So now we have to get a list of all the numbers that this phone had dialled. Then we get the task of linking the information on these people (when they are not pre-paid or burner phones). Next is the task of getting a profile, contacts, places, and other information. The list goes on and the complexity isn’t just the data, the fact that actual terrorists are not dumb and usually massively paranoid, so there is a limit to the data available.

Now what if this was not reactive, but proactive?

What if the data from all the sources could be linked? Social media, e-mail, connections, forums and that is just the directly stored data. When we add mobile devices, Smartphones, tablets and laptops, there is a massive amount of additional data that becomes available and the amount of data from those sources are growing at an alarming rate. The challenge is to correctly link the data from sources, with added data sources that contain aggregated data. So, how do you connect these different sources? I am not talking about the usage, it is about the impaired data on different foundations with no way to tell whether pairing leads to anything. For this I need to head towards a 2012 article by Hsinchun Chen (attached at end), Apart from the clarity that we see in the BI&A overview (Evolution, Application and Emerging Research), the interesting part that even when we just look at it from a BI point of view, we see two paths missing. That is, they seem to be missing now, if we look back to 2010-2011, the fact that Google and Apple grew a market in excess of 100% quarter on quarter was not to be anticipated to that degree. The image on page 1167 has Big Data Analytics and Mobile Analytics, yet Predictive Interactivity and Mobile Predictive Analytics were not part of the map, even though the growth of Predictive Analytics have been part of BI from 2005 onwards. Just in case you were wondering, I did not change subject, the software need that part of the Intelligence world uses comes from the business part. A company usually sees a lot more business from 23 million global companies than it gets from 23 intelligence agencies. The BI part is often much easier to see and track whilst both needs are served. We see a shift of it all when we look at the table on page 1169. BI&A 3.0 now gets us the Gartner Hype Cycle with the Key Characteristics:

  1. Location-aware analysis
  2. Person-centred analysis
  3. Context-relevant analysis
  4. Mobile visualization & HCI

This is where we see the jump when we relate to places like Palantir that is now in the weeds prepping for war. Tech Crunch (at https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/24/why-a-palantir-ipo-might-not-be-far-off/) mentioned in June that it had taken certain steps and had been preparing for an IPO. I cannot say how deep that part was, yet when we line up a few parts we see an incomplete story. The headline in July was: ‘Palantir sues investor Marc Abramowitz for allegedly stealing company secrets‘, I think the story goes a little further than that. It is my personal belief that Palantir has figured something out. That part was seen 3 days ago (at http://www.defensenews.com/articles/dcgs-commentary), the two quotes that matter are “The Army’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) is proof of this fact. For the better part of the last decade, the Army has struggled to build DCGS from the ground up as the primary intelligence tool for soldiers on the battlefield. As an overarching enterprise, DCGS is a legitimate and worthwhile endeavour, intended to compute and store massive amounts of data and deliver information in real time“, which gives us (actually just you the reader) the background, whilst “What the Army has created, although well-intentioned, is a sluggish system that is difficult to use, layered with complications and unable to sustain the constant demands of intelligence analysts and soldiers in combat. The cost to taxpayers has been approximated at $4 billion“, gives us the realistic scope and that all links back to the Intelligence Community. I think that someone at Palantir has worked out a few complications making their product the one winning solution. When I started to look into the matter, some parts did not make sense, even if we take the third statement (which I was already aware of long before this year “In legal testimony, an Army official acknowledged giving a reporter a “negative” and “not scientific” document about Palantir’s capabilities that was written by a staff member but formatted to appear like a report from the International Security Assistance Force. That same official stated that the document was not based on scientific data“, it would not have added up. What does add up (remember, the next part is speculative), the data links required in the beginning of the article, have to a larger extent been resolved by the Palantir engineers. In its foundation, what the journal refers to as BI&A 3.0 has been resolved by Palantir (top some extent). If true, we will get a massive market shift. To make a comparison, Google Analytics might be regarded as MSDOS and this new solution makes Palantir the new SE-Linux edition, the difference on this element could be that big. The difference would be that great. And I can tell you that Google Analytics is big. Palantir got the puzzle piece making its value go up with billions. They could raise their value from 20 billion to 60-80 billion, because IBM has never worked out that part of analytics (whatever they claim to have is utterly inferior) and Google does have a mobile analytics part, but limited merely as it is for a very different market. There have always been issues with the DCGS-A system (apart from it being as cumbersome as a 1990 SAS mainframe edition), so it seems to me that Palantir could not make the deeper jump into government contracts until it got the proper references and showing it was intentionally kept out of the loop is also evidence that could help. That part was recently confirmed by US Defense News.

In addition there is the acceptance of Palantir Gotham, which offered 30% more work with the same staff levels and Palantir apparantly delivered, which is a massive point that the Intelligence groups are dealing with, the lack of resources. The job has allowed NY City to crack down on illegal AirBnB rentals. A task that requires to connect multiple systems and data that was never designed to link together. This now gets us to the part that matters, the implication is that the Gotham Core would allow for dealing with the Digital data groups like Tablet, mobile and streaming data from internet sites.

When we combine the information (still making it highly speculative) the fact that one Congressman crossed the bridge (Duncan Hunter R-CA), many could follow. That part matters as Palantir can only grow the solution if it is seen as the serious solution within the US government. The alleged false statements the army made (as seen in Defence News at http://www.defensenews.com/articles/dcgs-commentary) with I personally believe was done to keep in the shadows that DCGS-A was not the big success some claimed it to be, will impact it all.

And this now links to the mentions I made with the Academic paper when we look at page 1174, regarding the Emerging Research for Mobile Analytics. The options:

  1. Mobile Pervasive Apps
  2. Mobile Sensing Apps
  3. Mobile Social Networking
  4. Mobile Visualization/HCI
  5. Personalization and Behavioural Modelling

Parts that are a given, and the big players have some sort of top line reporting, but if I am correct and it is indeed the case that Palantir has figured a few things out, they are now sitting on the mother lode, because there is currently nothing that can do any of it anywhere close to real-time. Should this be true, Palantir would end being the only player in town in that field, an advantage corporations haven’t had to this extent since the late 80’s. The approach SPSS used to have before they decided to cater to the smallest iteration of ‘acceptable’ and now as IBM Statistics, they really haven’t moved forward that much.

Now let’s face it, these are all consumer solutions, yet Palantir has a finance option which is now interesting as Intelligence Online reported a little over a week ago: “The joint venture between Palantir and Credit Suisse has hired a number of former interception and financial intelligence officials“, meaning that the financial intelligence industry is getting its own hunters to deal with, if any of those greedy jackals have been getting there deals via their iPhone, they will be lighting up like a Christmas tree on those data sets. So in 2017, the finance/business section of newspapers should be fun to watch!

The fact that those other players are now getting a new threat with actual working solutions should hurt plenty too, especially in the lost revenue section of their spreadsheet.

In final part, why did I make the No Man’s Sky reference? You see, that is part of it all. As stated earlier, it used a formula to create a planet sized planet. Which is one side of the equation. Yet, the algorithm could be reversed. There is nothing stopping the makers to scan a map and get us a formula that creates that map. For the gaming industry it would be forth a fortune. However, that application could go a lot further. What if the Geospatial Data is not a fictive map, but an actual one? What if one of the trees are not trees but mobile users and the other type of trees are networking nodes? It would be the first move of setting Geospatial Data in a framework of personalised behavioural modelling against a predictive framework. Now, there is no way that we know where the person would go, yet this would be a massive first step in answering ‘who not to look for‘ and ‘where not to look‘, diminishing a resource drain to say the least.

It would be a game changer for non-gamers!

special_issue_business_intelligence_rese

 

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Where the insane runs the asylum

The Guardian had an unsettling article yesterday (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/dec/22/david-cameron-us-america-refuses-british-muslim-family-disneyland). Now we all know that US protocol is not completely up to scrap. It gets enforced by people and certain systems are updated by people, so things will go bump into the night. For a family of 11, trying to get their Christmas dream in play, that fact must be overwhelmingly unsettling. You see, they were refused to get to the US. The issue “a family party of 11, about to embark on a dream holiday for which they had saved for months, were approached by officials from US homeland security as they queued in the departure lounge and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled, without further explanation“.

On the one side… No scrap that!

There are two sides, either there is a genuine issue and in that case DHS would have had to have updated the British security services. If that is not the case than we have a first case of evidence that the DHS data systems are now so garbled it can no longer distinguish between friend or foe, which is another matter entirely.

So “Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has written to the prime minister she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslims are saying they have had similar experiences of being barred from the US without being told the reasons for the exclusion“, this is indeed an issue.

Friedrich Nietzsche: A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything

First we must acknowledge that the US has not given a reason, so we are merely speculating, yet why avoid tourist income? Well, the Canadian Star had reported on a similar issue in March 2015, here we see the following quote: “United States Customs and Border Protection refused to comment on the Al-Rawi incident, but said travellers are responsible for proving their innocence“, so a tourist is regarded as guilty until proven innocent? How does that relate to the Law that is unless the Supreme Court states that presumption of innocence does not apply to tourists and Muslims and that should be a barrel of fun for everyone all over!

From my side, I always tend to keep an open mind, but here I have too many questions. refusal means flags, flags means data, that data should be shared with British Security services, if not, then why are we allies with America? Because they are so powerful? They remain utterly bankrupt in my eyes, the fact that they buckled a few times and the fact that the press is now looking at Russia as the possible salvation for the Syrian situation should be ample signs that America has outlasted their power base. The fact that the Canadian example involves a physician from Toronto General Hospital gives way to even more questions as this was not some plumber with a small business, it was a doctor with a position and a solid foundation for the future of his family, the idea that he wants to throw that away for an uncertain live in a nation now ruled by bigotry is not really that reliable a source, is it? I would choose live in any town in Canada over any city in the US any day of the week, but that’s just me!

Havelock Ellis: The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum

The MP, having “hit a brick wall” in her own attempts to get answers from the American embassy, has asked the prime minister to press US officials for an explanation for the Mahmood family’s exclusion“, which is interesting, the fact that an elected official is not receiving any answers leans towards the fact that the issue is not founded and that the lack of foundation implies unreliable data.

You see, an individual might not get an answer, an elected official (in this case Labour MP Stella Creasy, would have had access to a higher echelon of staff, meaning the answer ‘security flag’ could have been received. It will then be up to the British Security Services to resolve this (or investigate this). At which point the mere notice “We apologise, yet information has been obtained that regards you and your family a possible risk“. Now that might not be nice to hear, but that also means there is something to work from. As British Security Services are on average 300% more efficient than the US alphabet teams, more info would have been begotten. In my mind the question now becomes, if US data is unreliable, how come, who has been filling up that part of the system? The old ‘Garbage in Garbage out’ applies, even to today’s systems (even a little more when you see some of the assumptionary techniques Palantir Government allows to use). That last part needs a little explanation, actually Palantir has a good handle on it. You should read ‘THE POKÉMON PROBLEM: A NEW ANTI-PATTERN‘ (at https://www.palantir.com/2009/03/the-pokemon-problem/). As I see it (read: assumption), some analysts have been rehashing data, iteration upon iteration. So as such, some given elements will become the anchor while it should be nothing more than a passing event that is linked to an ACTUAL anchor. You see the article has ‘the’ solution with ‘the visitor pattern‘, yet consider, when someone makes these files, using temp files (as any analyst will do), now consider that those temp files are not properly managed and over a set of iterations that value was saved in the file for speed reasons. So the end of that article reads: “We now have easy re-factoring, no resource leaks, and have simplified calling code. And finally: there are no new bugs to be introduced by callers that aren’t sure how to use our resource. Looks like we caught ‘em all!

True, there were no resource leaks, they were possibly written in a temporary variable by an analyst and not correctly wiped when needed. In this instance groups of people are wrongly classified, more irritating is that it could also clear people who should not have been. This solution is nothing more than an indication on how easily a mere flag can go wrong. The US manages bulk data on a massive scale on a daily basis, so one mistake is not an assumption, it is a guarantee, a system drained, stretched and under resourced is leaving a mark, now on people in different ways, a massive problem for the US government no matter how you slice it.

James L. Petigru: South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum

The quote “Mahmood said neither he nor his brother, Mohammad Zahid Mahmood, had ever been in trouble with the police. They have been told by the airline they were to travel with that the £9,000 cost of their flights, for which they had been saving for many months, will not be refunded” gives way to even more issues. Not only were they deprived of status, they are deprived of funds. At which point we could see either an immediate refund, or if not given an overhaul of the US tourist industry. You see, the US would be required to give mandatory answers before the flight is paid for, that means that any interest in travelling to the US must be met with clearance, so not the 25,000 travelers, no the 354,000 interested parties must be vetted, which means that the DHS would run out of resources almost instantly, implying that they become useless even before they are needed. In addition, it also seems that they have a brother in Southern California. Perhaps there is an issue with data there (too)?

So how does this sit with the Prime Minister?

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Cameron would consider the issues raised in Creasy’s letter and respond in due course, which is of course fair enough, immediate response would not possible without all the facts and the US Embassy does not seem to be given any.

From the view I have, I don’t have one perse! You see data is at the core of this, but beyond the core there is the policy and the policy in play has been broken for some time now, the issue is that even in a broken policy, or should I say especially in a broken policy things will go wrong and the wrong people are labelled, it happens and for this family that is unfortunate, yet in all this the equal stress is that those who should be labelled are not, because that is a reality the US might not be properly investigating, mainly because it can’t, the data could realistically have become that cross contaminated.

How much value should you hold to my view?

Oscar Levant: There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line

My knowledge of data got me partially here, my knowledge/experience part of that way, you see on one side you do not go lightly with such rejections, not even the US, so we should expect smoke, but the two examples shows clear questionable issues and I do not believe that this is only two instances, the real amount will be much larger, especially when we consider the UK, Canada, France and a few others. So how to use a data system where the data is no longer reliable? Because that is the question that is currently in question. If it turns out to be mere policy than the US will be in more problem than they realise because discrimination of that magnitude will not go unanswered for long.

So can this still be a mere security issue?

Yes, that remains possible but in that case another response should have been voiced by more than one party, no matter what, the cancellation of funds in excess of £9,000 will be another topic still, because the cancellation was not due to any fault of the travelling party, which is an issue the UK Watchdog should address and they should address it very soon.

 

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For our spies only!

It’s out in the open, apparently Australia will get its first feel of a ‘cold war’, which according to Attorney General Brandis, will be a lot worse, will it?

Let us take a look.

The first source is the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/26/spy-agencies-to-get-stronger-powers-but-what-exactly-will-they-be), as I am all about a certain level of consistency, let us add a few quotes. “Crossbench senators and many stakeholders raised their concern that, in the absence of a clear definition of a computer network, a single warrant could be used to access a wide range of computers, given the internet is a network of networks” as well as the response to the greens who wanted to add a limit of 20. “Brandis said such an amendment “would impose an arbitrary, artificial and wholly unworkable limitation that would frustrate the ability of Asio to perform its statutory functions“.

These are both fair points, in regards to the sunset clause the response was “No. Brandis rejected a call to put a 10-year expiry date on the new law related to special intelligence operations, despite agreeing to similar sorts of sunset clauses in the yet-to-be-debated foreign fighters bill“.

And the fourth quote, which we need later on is ““Freedom is not a given,” the attorney general said. “A free society is not the usual experience of mankind. Freedom must be secured, and particularly at a time when those who would destroy our freedoms are active, blatant and among us”“.

So, this sounds fine and it all sounds viable, but what about the dangers here (are there even dangers)?

For those with some insight in law, here is the bill as it currently stands (at http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/s969_first-senate/toc_pdf/1417820.pdf), which for the most is an amendment to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/series/c2004a02123).

Initially, it seemed that there was an issue on page 76, yet, when we look at the final product, the change makes perfect sense. The first change here is the approach to information; basically, we will not have a weaky leaky speaky person. So we will (hopefully) not have an issue with some person dreaming to be on team Manning, Snowden and Moronic. It was so nice of the NSA to get into ‘hot’ water, so that we can prevent it. However, not all is well; this is seen (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/sep/26/internet-threat-existence-video). Whether it was just bad form, or over generalisation, Senator Glenn Lazarus stated “The internet is a serious threat because it can be used to orchestrate and undertake criminal behaviour across the world“. He then continues how ASIO and ASIS are there to increase security. It is this slight casual quote that seems to voice the dangers, as these powers are needed to combat security threats of several shapes. Yet the senator states “orchestrate and undertake criminal behaviour“, which is a lot broader then initially implied. This does not mean that this will be used as such, and quite honestly, if it stops shady financial advisors, then I am all fine with that, but it goes further than that as it was voiced (not stating the reality will be as such). Another part of the Guardian showed the ‘grilling’ of Attorney General Brandis by Senator Scott Ludlam, yet it seems that there the kettle is off the boil too. The Senator knew that Brandis would not answer or resort to speculation. He stated “I am not going to indulge Senator Ludlam by answering hypothetical cases or cases of historical interest“, which is fair enough. The Senator should know that, when he did a similar thing on October 4th 2013.

So where is the fire and is there a fire? You see, what is happening now, is what should have been done some time ago. I oppose Brendan Molloy from Pirate Bay (a fellow student), but his heart is in the right place (top right behind the rib cage, just like mine) and all these posters we see all over the place in regards to whatever, whenever, forever and prison. It is nice that we see all these posters on dangers and so on, yet some people seem to ignore the debilitating blows the US suffered at the hands of Manning and Snowden, not to mention Jullian Assange (which I will not go into at present). This will now change. At times those who don’t know speak those who know remain silent. It is when those who know speak out, that is when the casualties really go into many digits and Australia has its own brand of security issues. America has a little over 19,000 border miles on an area occupied by 320 million people. Australia seems larger, with a 22,000 border miles coastal line, yet overall Australia only has 22 million people, so with a population less than 10% we have to play the game another way. The security measures are one way, not the only way, but it will possibly stem several issues, which gives our intelligence branches a little more time to figure it out. Let us not forget that we have an intelligence structure and a form of Signal Intelligence, but if you think that they get a serious chunk of cash, then consider that the total Australian intelligence budget is a little under 1% of what America gets, and we get to look at a similar sized chunk of land to observe and a lot less people.

This got me to two issues that are now forming, yet the bill seems to not cover it as such. I am referring to the Telecommunications (Interception and access) Act 1979. Intelligence is essential, so is data collection and analyses. What happens when new solutions are needed? What happens when we face a change? The US had this when they needed more efficiency for the buck and a system called Palantir was used in the tests. Like Deployable Ground Station (DGS), the army ended up with a version known as DCGS-A. Now we get off to the races, the initially optional new system Palantir, its software was rated as easier to use (not unlike the analytical tool IBM Modeller), but did not have the flexibility and wide number of data sources of DCGS-A, which now gets us into hot water, or what the London Chef of Sketch might classify as: ‘from the frying pan into the fire’, these changes will also impact other systems and other people. In many cases the use of a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) is used (or in many cases Positive Vetting). The entire mess (slight exaggeration), will take on new forms as we see how the changes might also have a flaw (as I see it), what happens when there is a sudden spike of collected data. Scripts, automation, production jobs and moreover the gathering, sifting and storing of data will soon take an entirely new dimension. The current intelligence framework is in my humble opinion not even close to ready for a growth in excess of 400% (800% is more realistic). You see, if we are to set up a path that gives us a possible trace of events, then we need several snapshots, now, they will not snapshot the entire nation, but the amount of data that needs to be stored so that the people who need to know can follow the trace will be a massive one. I for one, am absolutely not in the mood to allow a ‘3rd party’ (read IBM, Oracle and a few others) to set up shop, as that data could even end up in America. Even though I have no issue with my data, feel free to check my Diablo 3 save file guys! The issue is when a grey field allows other uses. For this I recall the article ‘NSA linked to corporate dangers?‘, which I wrote on September 22nd 2013 (Yes, a year ago!), where I quoted the NSA site (the open source unclassified part), “The Information Assurance Business Affairs Office (BAO) is the focal point for IA partnerships with industry. It also provides guidance to vendors and the NSA workforce in establishing IA business relationships and cultivates partnerships with commercial industry through demonstrations and technical exchanges“.

So when we see such an escalation, how long until we see an ‘evolution’ of our intelligence data to create a business space? Let’s be honest upfront, the NSA has a different charter and as such has a massive amount of additional tasks, yet in the current form, is such an evolution that far-fetched? How dishonest is the advantage when a firm like Telstra or iiNet gets their greedy little marketing claws on data so verbose that they can target 10%-20% more ‘efficient’? So we have 2 sides and as far as I see it an element that might need tweaking because of it (reference to the: Telecommunications (Interception and access) Act 1979). The entire Data mining issue is also on the table as I have not met an abundance of miners who have my levels of skill when it comes to massive data sets. When the pressure is on and they need to create a creative alternative to a missing values data set, the race will be pretty much over. Then what? Get external experts?

Now we go back to the initial fourth statement ““Freedom is not a given,” the attorney general said. “A free society is not the usual experience of mankind. Freedom must be secured, and particularly at a time when those who would destroy our freedoms are active, blatant and among us”“. I do not oppose the statement perse, yet in my view the statement is “Freedom is a given in Australia, to keep the Australian values, in a time and under conditions that were designed to remove the tranquillity of our lives, steps must be taken to safeguard the freedom we hold dear. As such we need to act according to new paths for the sole purpose of stopping these elements amongst us, who are driven to remove freedoms, we and all those who came here to enjoy our way of life“.

Freedom remains a given, we will just add a few new solutions to stop those intent on destroying our lives and our freedoms!

In the end, both the Attorney General and myself decided to make Pappas Bravas, he said potato, I said tomato, yet I remain at present cautious on who else is eating from our plate, without the balance of the whistle blower, that person might remain undetected, in that regard, I would have preferred that a clear location would be there to alert someone, even if it was a special appointed judge (who would be added in subsection “(4) The persons to whom information may be communicated under subsection (3) are the following:

Was that such a stretch?

 

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For free or for naught?

It is less than a day after I wrote the previous blog ‘The danger ahead’, now I read in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/nsa-gchq-smartphone-app-angry-birds-personal-data) that the quote I made in yesterday’s blog “Speed and disregard of proper development has allowed for open access to many computers and devices, which allows for almost complete collection and stored and such storage can only be done by just a few. This open level of availability allows the NSA and GCHQ (amongst others) to collect open source intelligence, hoping to gain the upper hand in the war on terror.“, which is close to what the Guardian reported, as well as what is currently shown on Sky News!

At this point, I am looking at a few issues and the more I look at the data that the press is stating, the more I see that Edward Snowden is more than just a traitor. He claims being a victim in a German TV interview (at http://www.dw.de/wanted-dead-by-us-officials-snowden-tells-german-tv/a-17388431), where he speaks the fear that he is being targeted for long term sleep therapy (aka ‘terminal sleep’).

The ‘problem’ is that the issue is not just Snowden. The more I look into the breaches, the more I look into a possible functional approach on the way the NSA server parks (plural) are set up, the more I am convinced that not only was Edward Snowden not alone in this all, I feel some level of certainty that this person might still be in the NSA, endangering both NSA and GCHQ as well as other allied monitoring agencies.

The humongous amount of ‘revelations’ that are claimed in the name of Snowden do two things. First of all it turns Benedict Arnold in a stumbling saint (I just had to wash my mouth with soap for making such a claim). Linked to this is the fact that the many dozens of operations as his ‘revelations’ seem to touch on would have been on at least a dozen of servers (as projects are spread around). The fact that NSA uses an upgraded edition of SE-LINUX means that a system with logs and mandatory access control cannot get transferred to such a degree. The fact that IT and security monitors it all, as well that he was civilian contractor means that his name should have popped up a dozen times. Even if he used other accounts, the logs should have triggered alerts all over the field when they were scanned through solutions not unlike a program like Palantir Government.

The claims I am making are growing in reliability with every ‘revelation’ that is being made. There is however another side that is now the consequence of all these whingers and whiners about ‘their privacy‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/tech-giants-white-house-deal-surveillance-customer-data). We now enter a field where it is important to realise that the new situation could be regarded as a danger.

It is linked to a previous newscast where President Obama was considering moving telephony data out of government hands (at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/23/government-privacy-board-members-say-shifting-nsa-data-to-third-parties-is-a-bad-idea/)

As stated before, this is a really bad idea. Consider that criminals, if enough money is in play, can use places like HSBC to launder their money (I am not talking about forgetting your wallet whilst washing your jeans), but the idea that commercial enterprises can get away with these events for just a 5 week fee (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2012/07/16/hsbc-helped-terrorists-iran-mexican-drug-cartels-launder-money-senate-report-says/, as well as http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/23/uk-standardbank-fine-idUKBREA0M0LF20140123) is a lot more dangerous than many realise. Handing data storage out of government hands is just too dangerous. I am steering away from the issue whether the monitoring program should go on or stop. The intelligence community needs to do what it needs to do. Leaving that data with third parties is just not an option. The worst case scenario would see the US government paying out billions if any data leading to a registered IP ends up in ‘other’ hands. Once that evidence is ever given, the US would lose whatever credibility they ever thought they had.

At this point the title can be used as a joke. What is the difference between for free and for naught? Someone got rich for free, the US got rich for naught! That would end up being the reality of a project that was meant to map levels of global terrorism. This joke only gets stronger when we see another ‘view of shock’, but now from Google CLO David Drummond (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-25911266). It is hard to state against his view, or the premise of the company. These carefully pronounced statements from legal eagles are to be expected from many firms for some time to come. There is however a commercial positive view (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25914731). Here we see how entrepreneurs in makeup and clothing are showing options to avoid detection. In more than one instance it is stated to be metal based, so standing next to airport detectors should be fun soon enough. I wonder how much more would get checked when the boxers or briefs are also metal based.

So whether we get entertainment for free or fashion for naught will be discussed by many soon enough, the main fact remains. If we want to remain safe, then data needs to be collected. It is not for free, or for naught. It is for the simple reason that the world is filled with bad people; some will go any distance to hurt as many as they can. Our governments have a duty to keep us safe, it is only fair that they are given the tools, the methods and the opportunity to do so.

This does get us to the final part (or final side) to these events. This morning, the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/28/microsoft-rules-out-back-door-access-to-mps-electronic-communications) reported on backdoor access allegations. The quote “Both Ludlam and South Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon have been concerned about the security of Australian parliamentary communications since the Prism surveillance program was first revealed by National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden.” gives the information that was the part of all this. So again we see more resources squandered in regards to Snowden. Do not get me wrong, the question by both Ludlam and Xenophon is fair enough and as such it should be looked at. Whoever wants access to certain information, which might always be the case, could consider Intruding a system, which, unless you are a real expert is getting harder and harder, as it should be.

Yet, capturing and copying frames sent over a router system makes a lot more sense. You just capture it all and decrypt it later. Now, most people will not have the ability to do this, but consider the amount of elements to get this all from user1 to user2 via server X. If you think that this is highly encrypted hard to achieve effort, then think again. The more common the method used, the easier it is to read into it. So, there is a level of entertainment as we see leagues of technicians concentrate on the door of the bank vault, whilst in reality one of the walls is missing.  To give you another example, we take a look at a paper by Daehyun Strobel, Benedikt Driessen, Timo Kasper et al (at https://eprint.iacr.org/2013/598.pdf). As we look at the quote “Despite the fact that nowadays strong and well-analyzed cryptographic primitives are available for a large variety of applications, very weak cryptographic algorithms are still widely deployed in real products all over the world.” This relates to the IT issue as, we might have secure servers and powerful password rules, but files are send from one computer to another via the ‘internet’, which goes via a router system (no matter how you twist or turn it). So, as someone gets to any router on the track and wireshark’s the traffic, the stream can be rebuilt. From there the hacker still faces a few obstacles, but you better believe that above a certain skill level, this data can be retrieved. So what exactly are we all crying about?

 

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Patrons of Al-Qaeda

Many people have some form of religion, which is fine. To have a personal believe in something that is bigger than yourself or bigger then that what you see is not a bad thing. Many Christians have their father, their son and their holy ghost. Some go the other way and give credence to Satan, the anti-Christ and the false prophet. I cannot vouch for any of that. I agree that there is more than this in the universe, but what?

No matter how that part falls, it is likely that Al-Qaeda believes in their personal ‘information’ trinity.

They would be Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. These three people have done more to support Al-Qaeda then Osama Bin Laden ever could.

Assange, who is still hiding in an embassy, is the lowest transgressor of the three. First of all, as an Australian he did not really break any laws (although some debate should be had over hindering the actions of an ally under war time conditions). The public view is that on one side he should be nailed to a cross and on the other side he should be heralded. Information is often a lot more complex than many consider. If you want an example, you only need to look at this week’s situation where Assad is now blocking peace talks. Should there be any surprise?

I still am not completely convinced he was directly involved with the Sarin attacks; the issue here is that too much intelligence is questionable. If the USA had shown ALL OF IT publicly, the doubt might not have been there. Yet, the reality is whether they actually had hard evidence on who did it. Let us not forget that the evidence collected in the investigation was all about whether it had happened, not who did it. And guess what, Al-Qaeda was an element in Syria too, so what exactly did happen? Watching Secretary of State John Kerry go on a plane with his briefcase, shown on the news like he is some kind of rock star is not helping anyone either. It seemed as empty to me as a PowerPoint on some concept that no one wants to spend money on.

It shows two possible sides, either they have actual evidence that needs to remain a secret (which no one seemed to be accepting), or they actually didn’t have any and we were watching some version of the Punch and Judy show!

The other side is one that Assange was not into, the acts of terrorism by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not shown, we saw through WikiLeaks just one side of it and it changed the overall balance.

Then WikiLeaks released thousands of diplomatic cables, which I consider to be an act of utter stupidity, the information was one-sided, so the US opposition (all of them) get several free punches into play and as such, US recovery is still being hindered. This is the ‘bad’ side of Julian Assange. Their one sided act destabilised many events. Yes, there is a case to be made, but by not exposing the other side, we get a one-sided situation. In the end, the damage is done and even as there might not be any criminal activity by Julian Assange, we should ask questions.

In case the reader thinks that ‘actions’ against Julian Assange should be made, then consider that many in the financial industry did nothing ‘criminals’ either, even though thousands became homeless because of their ‘non-criminal’ actions.

By the way, remember the quote by CNBC (and many others), somewhere in 2010: “WikiLeaks honcho Julian Assange told Andy Greenberg at Forbes that he was in possession of a trove of documents that ‘could take down a bank or two.’ The documents wouldn’t necessarily show illegality but they would reveal an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ at one of the biggest banks in the United States. WikiLeaks would release it ‘early next year.’

They never came! So was this about intelligence, or about positioning banks in an even stronger place? Is it not interesting that Al-Qaeda’s patron number three and number one patron are all about neutering governments, whilst the banks stay out of play? Is it such a far fetching thought that these two idealists get played by those who believe greed is all?

In the middle we see Bradley Manning. This is not some ‘foreigner’; this was a member of the US military. In my view, he is a traitor plain and simple. A private, without any in depth education thought he had it all figured out, decides on US military policy. Which is interesting as many military members above the rank of Colonel are still trying to figure out what the best course of action is, even those with Ivy League degrees. The only positive thing from all this is that the military needs to seriously start to address its mental health issues, but beyond that small sparkle of recognition, this person was more than a small danger.

That part is not addressed even as the news still discusses the winner of this unholy threesome. Three days ago USA today published information on the fact that anti-leak software had still not been installed. I think it is even worse than many think it is. Some of these applications have (as any good application would) powerful log files. Even when we look at non-military solutions we see the following:

“The client’s log file is located at <user_directory>/Palantir/<version>/logs/client.log”

We can see at Palantir’s wiki what it logs, and depending on the settings it can give a lot (at https://wiki.palantir.com/pgkb/does-the-palantir-product-do-any-logging.html)

By the way, one needed only to change three settings to really log a lot:

# log4j.logger.com.palantir.services=error # package level
# log4j.logger.com.palantir.serveres.Nexus=warn # class level
# log4j.logger.MyLabeledLogger=info # specific logger

Removing ‘# ‘ on each line was all it would take.

This one warning gives a final view “Note that we do NOT recommend enabling logging below the warn level for production scenarios.” which means that all logging is possible mapping out the active military network in real time as the user muddles along.

This is not about Palantir, or even anti-Palantir. It is a software solution that part of the Intelligence community is currently using. IBM Modeler and SAS Miner are both data mining tools with similar abilities (and there are more). They all have these options as it is needed to make their products go smoothly. So when Bradley Manning gave it all away, he really gave it all away! The consequence might have (or could be resulting) in deep targeted attacks against a military server system. The question becomes how good is the anti-leak software? As many logging is set at higher levels (read administrator), many of them would be able to log events unhindered by many prying eyes (it is not realistic to monitor all logs on even 1 server). Even if it is all covered, who else has access to just read these log files? It is not uncommon to negate log files, as their users are usually vetted for use of the application. LOG files can however show more than many bargain for.

Unless the server architecture has been re-arranged, there is plenty of worry whether these servers are safe at this time, because log files are inherently their and needed, they are not linked to a password change and often, they do not get reconfigured away from their standard configuration as the case has been with plenty of application that it would hinder smooth operations.

Last on the list of the Patron Threesome is Edward Snowden. I have mentioned him often enough, so I will not go through it all again. He is in my view a traitor and not some ‘holier than thou’ protector. He is not some idealist, too much pointed to him making a getaway with the eye on some quick bucks (and many of them), I might be wrong, but that is how I see him. As he showed us how ‘naughty’ the NSA was, did he show us how unscrupulous Microsoft seems to be?

That view can be seen through an article in Techbeat just 4 days ago. The first quote is “Microsoft is developing a new technology to replace cookies. This work is similar to projects being undertaken by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Tracking cookies have come under scrutiny recently from regulators by many concerned about privacy; certain types of cookies (Third party tracking cookies) are now easily blocked through built-in functions and extensions/add-ons within main web browsers.

The second one from the same article is “This technology should also include Microsoft services including their search engine Bing. Tracking in mobile devices remains a key point. The big advantage of Microsoft’s emerging technology is that it could track a user across a platform.

So basically, this reads like: ‘we the consumer used to have a little privacy, but soon, thanks to Microsoft, that privacy might be gone forever, allowing for non-stop online harassment wherever we are‘ So, That Snowden fellow never gave us anything on that, did he? Even though the NSA should have been aware of such plans long before Techbeat had a clue. Does the reader still think he is such an idealist?

Yet, on the other side, he has shown one important weakness. The US intelligence branch is on that same low level as the organisation that in the 50’s used to be laughingly referred to as ‘British Intelligence’. The question is not just how weak is the NSA seems to be; it links to questions regarding the weakness that GCHQ and its current Commonwealth peers might have. There are in addition issues with the personal digital safety of people on a global scale. Not because the NSA is scanning to identify terrorist networks, but if one person (Snowden) could get away, is there anyone else who just wanted money and gave their data download to cyber criminals? There is absolute 0% guarantee that this did not happen, so in how much danger are our details?

So, why this blog today? Many do this at the start, but in certain light this had to be done at the very end. It is not just about their acts, but also about the acts you and I undertake. We willingly give out our details to Facebook (including a beheading, but excluding exposed breasts), LinkedIn and Google+, yet many scream about ‘some government‘ seeing what we are doing and who we are doing it with (or without).

The twisted world we allowed to be created is likely to throw us at least two more curve balls before Christmas. Enjoy!

 

 

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Filed under IT, Law, Military