Paranoia, Data Theft & Other Tales of Big-Data


Here, I present a collection of data-related things I find weird, interesting, or ironic, in no particular order:

The CIA is investing in cloud-based collaboration with a UK-based company. CIA-backed In-Q-Tel recently made a strategic investment in Huddle, a provider of cloud collaboration software. While it's entirely consistent with the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, Steve Weissman, minister of process and information betterment at Holly Group, echoed my sentiments when he questioned the irony of "a federal agency steeped in security and secrecy for the protection of its home country" investing in "a foreign company whose flagship product is steeped in information sharing!"

This is all the more worrisome because the cloud is full of spies. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the computer security company RSA have shown it's possible for software hosted by a cloud-computing provider to steal secrets from software hosted on the same cloud. So much for the assumption that one customer’s data is kept completely separate from data belonging to any other customer.

Big-data isn't the game changer: The people who understand it are the ones changing the game. Zach Gemignani made an interesting point in a Juice Analytics blog when he wrote: "focusing on 'Big' distracts from other fundamental barriers -- particularly the very human skills required for thoughtful analysis and effective communication of insights."

Being paranoid no longer means you're crazy. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to brick-and-mortar stores, we learn "that department store mannequin really is watching you." The mannequin, with a camera mounted behind one of its eyes “feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.”

It's impossible to effectively measure influence on the web. Michael Wu, principal scientist of analytics at Lithium, thinks anyone who tries to measure digital influence has a big problem on his hands. "One of the reasons that brands don’t understand digital influence is because they don’t seem to realize that no one actually has any measured 'data' on influence (i.e. explicit data that says precisely who actually influenced who, when, where, how, etc.)," he wrote.

Implants can make more than breasts feel fuller. You may have heard the stories about the Proteus ingestible sensor and biodegradable electronic implants. Now, there's the abiliti system: an implantable technology that might be able to make you thinner. The device is implanted laparoscopically. Once in place, the system's onboard food and activity sensors automatically track details of consumption and activity, and can send that information wirelessly to a computer for the patient and physician to view.

How about you? Read any interesting data stories lately?

Noreen Seebacher,

Noreen Seebacher, the Community Editor of Investor Uprising, has been a business journalist for more than 20 years. A New York City based writer and editor, she has worked for numerous print and online publications. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, New York’s Daily News, The Detroit News, and the Pittsburgh Press. She co-edited five newsletters for Real Estate Media’s GlobeSt.com and served as the site's technology editor.

She also championed the commercial real estate beat at The Journal News, a Gannett publication in suburban New York City, and co-founded a Website focused on personal finance. Through her own company, Stasa Media, Noreen has produced reports, whitepapers, and internal publications for a number of Fortune 500 clients. When she's not writing, editing, or Web surfing, she relaxes in an 1875 Victorian with her husband and their five kids, four formerly homeless cats, and a dog.

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Re: I've got a stiff neck from looking over my shoulder.
  • 12/28/2012 7:00:41 AM
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I'll have to watch out for those manequins. I'm sometimes prey to paranoia not knowing just who's watching and just what are "those" people looking for. While my guess is data theft is going to be a growing problem, it's probably still much like any kind of theft. The wider the door is open, the greater the problem. Lock the doors and that should deter the casual theive. A determined thief....now there's the real problem.

Re: Oddball CIA move
  • 12/27/2012 10:10:37 PM
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@ Noreen it is odd and just one of many things that is wrong with our system.

Re: I've got a stiff neck from looking over my shoulder.
  • 12/27/2012 10:08:57 PM
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Congrats Noreen for writing about an issue that the rest of the World is just coming to grips with, I too saw the Nightly News piece and I will admit it freaked me out !   To actually see this in action really opened my eyes{ no pun intended) and after seeing in action, I like it even less.  

This is worrisome no matter how you cut it, on many fronts and I think if I ever run across this in my daily dealings , this nice piece of technology "gone wild"  can watch me leave.

 

Analyze that.

 

Re: I've got a stiff neck from looking over my shoulder.
  • 12/27/2012 4:33:20 PM
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..

Yesterday I wrote


Well, it turns out the mannequins equipped with surveillance cameras in their eye sockets do have an advantage after all, according to a report on tonight's NBC Nightly News (Dec. 26th).


 

NBC has now posted this.  You can find it at the following URL:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/

You have to grab the "Latest video" scroll bar, and pull it down until you get to the segment titled "Using mannequins to monitor shoppers".  Then watch the video...

 

Re: I've got a stiff neck from looking over my shoulder.
  • 12/26/2012 9:51:23 PM
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..

Update for an issue raised in this thread.  Noreen had written


Noreeen writes



Being paranoid no longer means you're crazy. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to brick-and-mortar stores, we learn "that department store mannequin really is watching you." The mannequin, with a camera mounted behind one of its eyes "feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by."


...To which I responded


Don't need a stupid mannequin for that.  Ordinary surveillance cameras, now in wide use, surely have better optics and a better persepctive than the peepers of a mannequin.


Well, it turns out the mannequins equipped with surveillance cameras in their eye sockets do have an advantage after all, according to a report on tonight's NBC Nightly News (Dec. 26th).  A surveillance camera at roughly human face level is far better at obtaining a view of your face adequate for facial recognition, than is an overhead camera.  The NBC report also claimed the mannequin is better at tracking you in the store.

While the surveillance obviously has a security function, what the system is also tracking, after recognizing who you are, is your purchasing history and more info about you.  Not exactly clear what they can do with this in the store, but after "locking" in on you, the snoopers watch what you buy and then correlate this with the rest of their dossier on you, to enrich their profile of you.

Goodness knows what they're doing with all this private, personal info about us.  Or maybe Badness knows? 

Re: Oddball CIA move
  • 12/11/2012 7:20:58 AM
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Somehow I think it is odd that our government agencies are investing in any companies, anywhere!

Re: Oddball CIA move
  • 12/11/2012 1:07:58 AM
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I don't know about you all but I am tired of being watch and erroneously analyzed.  I worry about the abilities of those who get this data and this is something to really be worried about.

Agreed. This whole CIA issue is very strange, but I tend to be less concerned since it is located in the UK.  This was probably the most reasonable way to attain the objective which could have been to secure a database between the two nations and those that are also allies.

How Much Weight Does the Web Carry ?
  • 12/11/2012 12:59:31 AM
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" It's impossible to effectively measure influence on the web."

I really understand and support this statement of Mr. Wu, while of course we can come up with generalizations yet being able to prove that some web based act had significant influence on a sale is still very difficult to do.

Re: I've got a stiff neck from looking over my shoulder.
  • 12/9/2012 12:16:22 PM
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..

CallmeBob writes


I think I'll go home, lock the doors, pull the shades down, and spend the rest of the day hiding in bed under the blankets.


 

Probably to little avail.  The spooks have developed nanotech robots that can sneak under the covers and see what's going on...

Noreeen writes


Being paranoid no longer means you're crazy. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to brick-and-mortar stores, we learn "that department store mannequin really is watching you." The mannequin, with a camera mounted behind one of its eyes "feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by."


 

Don't need a stupid mannequin for that.  Ordinary surveillance cameras, now in wide use, surely have better optics and a better persepctive than the peepers of a mannequin.

To further rev up your paranoia ... how about the new black boxes in cars?   ABC News had a story on this the other night.  Seems that the Massachesetts Lieutenant Governor got ensnared by this technology, now standard in all new cars, which records what you're doing, how fast you're driving, what pedals or buttons you're pushing, etc.  After a spectacular smashup, the Lt. Guv claimed he was driving at the speed limit with his seatbelt on.

Uh-oh.  The Black Box reported otherwise — claimed he was doing 100 mph with no belt fastened.  Naughty boy, caught by the robot...

See:

Black boxes in cars raise privacy concerns

 

Re: Oddball CIA move
  • 12/6/2012 7:41:43 PM
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Also what concerns me is that the CIA couldn't find a U.S. competitor with the qualifications. 

I have to admit that next time I see those mannequins I might do a little dance in front it and see what it thinks.  Can it analyze if I look good in an outfit?

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