Tableau and WikiLeaks

Joe Lieberman

Previously Tableau had allowed thea visualization of the Wikileaks data to appear on their Tableau Public site, this was not the actual emails and documents, but merely a visualization of the data – Tableau Public is a bit like YouTube for data visualization.

However, much liks Amazon, PayPal, and other companies they soon pulled the data from their site ( at the end of 2010).

As a result many people were not happy about this, lots of complaints and accusations about government collaboration, etc.

Below is the formal statement by Tableau on the reasons for the data being taken down.

Wednesday afternoon, Tableau Software removed data visualizations published by WikiLeaks to Tableau Public. We understand this is a sensitive issue and want to assure the public and our users that this was not an easy decision, nor one that we took lightly.

We created Tableau Public—a free service that enables anyone to make interactive graphs from their data and share them online—because we recognized the need for strong analytics tools in a data-driven world. Given the controversy around the WikiLeaks data, we’ve closely followed the debate about who actually has the rights to the leaked data.

Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available. Furthermore, if we receive a complaint about a particular set of data, we retain the right to investigate the situation and remove any offending data, if necessary.

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

This will inevitably be met with mixed reaction. However, our terms of service were created to ensure responsible use of data.

Tableau Software 6.0

Image representing Tableau Software as depicte...

Tableau Software‘s just-released 6.0 version may prove to be one of the company’s biggest releases and one that heightens the business intelligence competition with QlikTech, Tibco Spotfire, and Microsoft PowerPivot.

Tableau previewed its latest release in my “Cool BI” class at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) World Congress in Orlando earlier this month. As I wrote in a recent in-depth review, Tableau’s visual discovery tool is one of the easiest to use.

With Tableau 6.0, customers seem to get the best of both worlds. Tableau’s new Data Engine leverages the source database when necessary, or it can bring portions of the data into memory when that offers better performance. Adding support for Windows 64-bit operating environments improves the product’s scalability.

Read More….

Business Intelligence Predictions: Gartner

Gartner headquarters in Stamford

Gartner has made four predictions for the near future of business intelligence and analytics. Below are some key predictions

  • By 2013, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices.
  • By 2014, 30% of analytic applications will use in-memory functions to add scale and computational speed. By 2014, 30% of analytic applications will use proactive, predictive and forecasting capabilities.
  • By 2014, 40% of spending on business analytics will go to system integrators, not software vendors.
  • By 2013, 15% of BI deployments will combine BI, collaboration and social software into decision-making environments.

Mobile Phone Security

Mobile Phone Security Breached

Tent with CCC pirate flag as seen on the Chaos...
Image via Wikipedia

Mobile calls and texts made on any GSM network can be eavesdropped upon using four cheap phones and open source software, say security researchers.

Karsten Nohl and Sylvain Munaut demonstrated their eavesdropping toolkit at the Chaos Computer Club Congress (CCC) in Berlin. The work builds on earlier research that has found holes in many parts of the most widely used mobile technology. The pair spent a year putting together the parts of the eavesdropping toolkit.

“Now there’s a path from your telephone number to me finding you and listening to your calls,” Mr Nohl told BBC News. “The whole way.”

He said many of the pieces in the eavesdropping toolkit already existed thanks to work by other security researchers but there was one part the pair had to create themselves.

“The one piece that completed the chain was the ability to record data off the air,” he said.

In a demonstration at the CCC, the pair took attendees through all the steps that led from locating a particular phone to seizing its unique ID, then leap-frogging from that to getting hold of data swapped between a handset and a base station as calls are made and texts sent.

Key to grabbing the data from the air were cheap Motorola phones which can have their onboard software swapped for an open source alternative.

“We used the cheap Motorola telephones because a description of their firmware leaked to the internet,” he said.

This led to the creation of open source alternative firmware that, he said, has its “filters” removed so it could see all the data being broadcast by a base station.

Read More…

IBM Acquires PSS Systems

The lines between compliance and e-discovery are drawing closer. New York’s IBM has acquired California-based PSS Systems. PSS Systems develops Atlas, an information governance suite that helps users analyze and assess risks in maintaining data and formulate policies and automate workflows to dispose of excess data. According to Ron Ercanbrack, vice president of enterprise content management at IBM, Atlas is a “logical complement” to other IBM products like Content Collector and eDiscovery Analyzer and Manager. “With the acquisition of PSS Systems, we are able to expand our portfolio with a broader set of legal solutions that for the first time link corporate legal hold policies to the reality of how information is managed and disposed of,” explains Ercanbrack.

….Read More

Data Visualization – UK Finances

How Secret are these Secrets on WikiLeaks ?

The WikiLeaks release of 250,000 documents is, of course, big news –  it’s the largest number of published leaked secret documents ever.

There is much excitement about the content, understandably so. The US Administration is less excisted and is apparently concerned about the leaks with the following statements being made:

  • “Such disclosures puts at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government”
  • “President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.”
  • “place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals
  • “place at risk on-going military operations,”
  • “place at risk on-going cooperation between countries.”

So, the US administration and  US Intelligence seem to be pretty concerned about the “risk”.

Clearly, such damaging material would be kept under incredibly tight security? They would probably take the following actions to minimize risk:

  • Partition the information – so only certain people could access certain information
    • For example, there is no need for all the Brazil analysts to access information on Italy.
  • Remove any network connections
    • For obvious reasons
  • Limit physical access
    • High security rooms, CCTV, armed guards, those fancy double key entry rooms you see in movies, etc, etc
  • ZERO ability to copy data.
    • Systems to prevent photography, printing, etc (obviously USB devices would be blocked

Errr, will no.

Those statements are probably true for critical intelligence, but these cables are NOT even Top Secret. They were just “Secret”, which is pretty low in the world of intelligence, in fact Top Secret is when intelligence circles really start to operate and there several levels above Top Secret.

The data that was stolen was copied from a centralized system, which around 3 million US military and US government workers had access to; from very junior levels upwards.

Much of the data was, according to the Guardian who are involved in leaking the material with WikiLeaks, copied to a CD! I.e – it was nothing more than a drag and drop exercise.

Hardly, high-tech and hardly highly protected data.

There is a staggering lack of security around these secret files. Probably because they contain opinions rather than hard intelligence, source names or signal frequencies.

Given the numerous cases of spying and espionage (see a small sample below, more available here)  its  likely  these cables would already have been seen by other intelligence agencies.

Examples of Spying

It highly unlikely that all cases of spying are discovered and made public.

Given the alleged “risks” this data poses, with “countless lives at risk”  there was little security around the actual data. In fact it sounds like its harder to get onto a plane with a 500 ml bottle of water than get hold of the “secret” cables.

The 250,000 leaked cables maybe the biggest leak ever published, but it’s probably not the biggest leak ever.

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