The Data Starts With You


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Big Data is about Volume, Velocity and Variety of data.  This awesome Ted Talk is great for examples of what types of information are available, what some of the challenges are and what some of the awesomeness is from using it.

Data belongs to the people.  Thanks to those that take the time and their talent to make a difference for the community.


How to Encrypt Data in the Cloud to Stop Mischievous Hackers


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With all the doom and gloom of hackers in the news, here’s an IT perspective about how encryption can be used to help secure cloud services.

Datafloq – How to Encrypt Data in the Cloud to Stop Mischievous Hackers.

In the modern IT procedures, almost all significant information processes or data pathways include some form of cloud storage or cloud computing. This means that even businesses and organization which do not own or operate cloud storage assets still have their data transported through some form of cloud service, no matter what they do. In many aspects, this is a great thing for the broader IT industry, mainly because cloud technology allows for a multitude of great advances, including continuous access to important information, mobile device synchronization and practically flawless data recovery potential.

On the other hand, the same cloud presence also compromised the global data security status. Now, though often weak cloud security protocols, a malicious attack that is either designed to steal valuable information or to simply vandalize an organization can produce a true disaster. This is why encryption is more important now than it ever was. By encrypting cloud content, users produce a new level of protection against attack, making sure that even stolen or lost data will be meaningless and useless to those who perpetrated the attack. Because of the complex nature of cloud computing systems, several important factors need to be addressed so that all users of cloud storage or some other cloud service can be safe in the knowledge that their data will not be easily compromised.

Handling of Security incidents

Any incident is a worrying occurrence, but those who are dedicated to cloud security cannot leave it only at that. In a security-related situation, any incident needs to be confronted quickly and decisively using extensive detection and its reporting protocols, followed by an organized management of the same breach. Encryption will not stop an attack, but it will stop the attackers from using or stealing the data they have acquired. But still, the previously mentioned steps represent a hugely important factor in demonstrating to the customers the commitment to data security.

Data Protection

Cloud computing represents a phenomenon which holds several important possibilities when it comes to data being compromised, and which are true for both consumers and vendors. Data can not only be stolen, but also lost or unavailable. For the end users, all these scenarios are exceedingly problematic. Because of this, cloud security needs to keep a close eye on how data is being transmitted and handled in every situation while a layer of encryption means that it is not easily accessible from the outside.

Insecure or Incomplete Data Deletion

Attempts to delete data on cloud services once a user contract has been terminated, for example, may not always lead to their true deletion. At the same time, even timely scheduled deletions may also be impossible because the servers that are being used might store data from other clients, or because additional copies might be present. This is why deletion must be completed in such way that the clients are absolutely sure that their data was completely wiped clear. Of course, the same procedure should not be utilized lightly because it could drastically impact data recovery potential if the data owner’s change their mind after the files had been deleted. With encryption, even data that might be left behind will not provide any problems for its owners because it will not be accessible.

Malicious Behavior of Insiders

Malicious attacks do not only come from the outside environment, but also from the employees or contractors of the cloud service company, but also the business that uses cloud services. Encryption is not designed to be a method of making sure that a set of information cannot be accessed by insiders. In fact, the true point of encryption is to make the same information meaningless without the right encryption key. This way, any insider malicious threat is greatly reduced.

Service Unavailability

Any cloud security detachment will often come across the notion of service being unavailable because of many different reasons, ranging from software and equipment failure to break down in a pathway between the cloud service and its end users. In these cases, encryption should still be in place to safeguard any data. This so-called “static” potential of encryption is also extremely important when it comes to protecting data from mischievous hackers.

With these key facts about cloud security, it is clear that any encryption process could prove to be a huge asset in the fight against hackers. By using it, anyone can make sure that their data and services locate on the cloud are completely safe and protected.

China’s Government Will Embed Police In Its Largest Tech Firms

Colette Grail:

Many a behemoth corporation has been hacked for personal information. Recently OPM was struck not once but twice. The number one suspect is China.
What is China’s take on internet privacy?

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

China already has some of the most stringent Internet restrictions in the world, but censorship is poised to become even more extreme.

Sites and social networks will no longer just be surveilled by keyword filters and human monitors working remotely. China’s Ministry of Public Security has announced that police will be placed into the offices of major Internet companies.

In a statement, the ministry claimed that its new initiative will strengthen China’s national security by guarding against cyberhacking, communication by terrorist groups, and fraud. The long list of activities it plans to prevent also include pornography, however, which is used as a catch-all offense by the Chinese government. By keeping the definition of pornography vague, it has served as an excuse to shut down the sites and social media accounts of political activists.

The ministry did not disclose which companies it will embed police officers in or when the initiative…

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What is unicity & why you need to know


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A quick Google of “financial information breach” in the news returns an almost daily litany of public and private sector institutions that have been hacked for information.

In June 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced a breach that compromised over 4 million personnel records. The following month, OPM again confessed to another breach; this times it was over 21 million records, including the files used for security clearances. These specific files incorporate the background investigations which include extensive documentation of personnel employment, health and personal information. (Both instances are blamed on China.)

DON Leadership OPM Data Breach Briefing 2015-06-26

Keys to the Castle

Safeguarding personal information is a monumental task. We don’t just take it for granted that the people we give our information – health care, financial institutions, employers – will steward the data properly, we hold them accountable, both in civil and criminal court. It is easy to want an entity to be responsible and answerable to protecting personal information, but in reality, this example is only a simple liability we understand. Your personal information in reality is a much more complex picture, and infinitely more vulnerable beyond the government and corporate entities that strive to uphold you PI.

Think about your social media data stream. You probably wouldn’t be surprised that someone could figure out who you are by what you post. What does that look like and how easy is it?

The answer is …

Unicity is the a statistical tool used to measure how much “outside” information is need to identify an “anonymous” individual within a dataset. One way to measure that is how many “tuples” it takes to hit the mark. “Tuples”[1] is a “data structure — a mechanism for grouping and organizing data to make it easier to use.” Short for n-tuple or multiple in mathematics, it has n elements to set a data point. In the case of this article, that data point is your identity.

What signal are you sending?

With every purchase using a credit card, the financial transaction is specifically encrypted by sender and receiver to ensure the financial information is sufficient to protect it from hacking. That doesn’t make it anonymous though. Think Big Data.

MIT researchers analyzed a data set of more than one million people at ten thousand businesses.[2] The data was “anonymized”; whereupon, the researchers were able to see details about each transaction, such as when, where, and how much, but not allowed names or account numbers. A tuple of location and time proved a simple solution to identification. With just four of random tuples, the MIT folks was sufficient to reveal 90 percent of the individuals in the dataset.

Cash May Be King …

But it still doesn’t make you anonymous. Your data stream is not confined to credit card transactions. Every geo-tagged photo, every social media comment or use of your phone reveals who and where you are. If you want to brave turning off the virtual world to cloak your movements, you are still followed through license plate readers and shopper movements caught on camera. License plate scans are used on police cars, on bridges, roads and tollbooths to capture time and place. In brick and mortar stores, your movements, attributes and actions are captured on camera, and possibly analyzed.[3] Is that creepy? Possibly, but considering every click on Amazon or every other website on the internet is forever captured by cookies, is there a difference? Or possibly it’s only a difference you are more comfortable understanding … and feeling creepy?

Bottom line: you are rarely alone.

It’s not all about the money either.

“Life is short. Have an affair.” The Ashley Madison website terse tagline speaks terabytes of information about its content. One of many sites that provide a covert location to seek others with the same guilty intentions, Ashley Madison made the news in June 2015 as well for being hacked. It’s not the Chinese this time and it’s not ransom for money. The “Impact Team” as the hackers call themselves are demanding the website shut down in return for not releasing the financial (credit card & employment), personal (name and address), and intimate (do I have to draw a picture?) details of the site’s reported 37 million members.

Same old story?

Is this a new phenomenon? Actually, personal accountability, who and where you are and what you do, is not new. Detection, whether a picture of your car license plate or your credit card transaction, has been around for as long as cars and credit cards. Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot understood data trail long before digital medium. (Well, their creators did.)

What is new is Big Data. What has changed is capability of volume, velocity and variety of information that is ubiquitously captured and shared. This aptitude used to be cost prohibitive. The total capture is now relatively inexpensive. Using the data has become a capability differentiator, let alone a potent return on investment.

The data has always been there; it’s just being used faster and funnier. That’s why you need to know unicity and the power of Big Data.

My sincere appreciation to Sherbit as inspiration and reference for this article. I highly endorse following them if you are interested in data privacy issues.




Five “Shoulds” for Data Driven Decision Making



Decision Making is one of the driving factors for data collection.  Whether it’s used to choose what route to take to work or determining Global Thermo Nuclear War strategy, data is a vital tool for interpreting options.  Many a bad decision has been made with bad information, as the New Coke campaign or the volatility of the stock market can attest.

One of the evils of statistics is using numbers to tell a biased story.  Or perhaps it’s not telling the whole story.  Or maybe the people who prepare the story don’t understand its pertinence.  Or maybe the ones who prepare the story don’t know how to tell the story well.

Whether you work dashboards or data visualization, this article by Erik K is an awesome resources for beginners and veterans on making sure your data tells the right story.

View story at




Professional Summer Reading on Data Analytics


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Don’t I love a great book!!  This is an awesome professional reading list for Data Analytics provided by Analytics Vidhya.   I’ve read half of them, so I’ll get cracking on the rest, starting with Signal and the Noise since I love chaos theory.  We are half way through summer already.  (crazy)


Time to crack the books

Time to crack the books

Data Scientist or Data Analyst: What Do You Know?

Colette Grail:

I’ve done deliberate and contingency planning in the military using “things you know, things you don’t know, and things you don’t know you don’t know”. I’ve not seen it to describe data science versus analytics, but this is an excellent parable that explains the dark and the light and the grey in between.

Originally posted on Data Scientist Insights:

What you don t knowData sciences and data analytics not only use different techniques, that are often highly dependent on the distribution characteristics of the data, but also produce very different categorical types of insights. These insights range from a better understanding things you know you know (data analytics) to discoveries in area where you don’t know what you don’t know (data sciences). However, this knowledge metaphor can be a bit confusing, so I often use the “Darkness, A Flashlight, and the Data Scientist” parable. 

Flash Light

In your mind, picture a darkened room, where you are standing, but do not know where in the room you are. In your hand is large flashlight. You raise it slowly, pointing it in a direction. You turn it on and white light radiates forward.

The light of the flashlight shines brightly on a distant wall, where you see several items. These are the things you

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Personal Health In The Digital Age

Colette Grail:

$300 BILLION price tag for non-adherence to prescription drugs? I’m not sure what that means. Who pays the price? Is it the consumer for a drug they didn’t take? Or the government or insurance?

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_contributor_byline slug=”brian-tilzer”]

We live in the digital age. You know that already. Two out of three Americans are now smartphone owners, and more than 86 percent of the population is connected online. But while digital has permeated everything from our social lives to how we work and how we shop, it is only starting to touch how we manage health.

Yes, nearly 70 percent of Internet users look up health information online (who hasn’t been on in a panicked moment of self-diagnosis?). However, only one in five of us have an app downloaded on our smartphones to track our health. And health apps comprised only 2.8 percent of total app downloads from the Apple App Store a few months ago.

All of this points to the disconnect between personal technology and personal healthcare, despite the vital importance of the intersection of the two. Personal technology is proliferating, yet the…

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Fatigue Science Lets Pro Sports Teams Track Their Athletes’ Sleep


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Colette Grail:

How well did you sleep last night? The NFL wants to know. Well, actually they want to know about their players. Sleep has been understood as part of a healthy routine for some time, but now quantifying the quality is a new grade of capability. Some NFL teams want to sleep to be a game changer.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

As wearable activity trackers get increasingly smart and complex, Fatigue Science is measuring one thing and one thing only — how we sleep.

Fatigue Science’s Readiband looks very similar to a Fitbit or Nike Fuelband. It has a 3D accelerometer that tracks movement, impact, velocity, speed and frequency, a battery that lasts 60 days between charges, and it’s both water and pressure resistant.

The band alone is not a revolutionary development, considering that even the most basic wearable fitness trackers can monitor when you’re asleep.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.52.44 AM

Fatigue Science has the ability to detect sleep quality at 93 percent of the accuracy of a hospital sleep lab, but the real feat is their ability to predict human effectiveness and reaction time. The startup takes the sleep data captured by the band and runs it through a biomathematical model developed by the U.S. Military.

This level of accuracy may not be essential for most of us, but for elite athletes…

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