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.

Forensics: What jobs are there in IT forensics?

Computer forensics has come along way since the phrase was first coined.  The article below covers some of the general jobs in computer forensics, while the roles in computer forensics are discussed in this article.

Traditionally it was the recovery of lost and deleted file, in essence it was data recovery – at a very detailed level. Then it moved into what most people think of computer forensics as, the investigation of hard drives and computers, who did what and when. For a long time the police drove the market, and anybody who went on an EnCase course in the past 10 years would attest to that. The training and the tools, were all about police work, the vast majority of which is investigating child pornography. Police were investigating home computers (in general), with suspects using Hotmail, AOL, and Yahoo!. This has its own problem’s such as obtaining evidence from web servers based in the US

However, while the police were developing in these skill sets the civil sector was growing, and rapidly. Computer forensics was not about if a person looked at a child abuse picture, which can be  relatively easy to demonstrate (technically), but looking at groups of individuals in a corporate environment taking company secrets.

Corporate Forensics

This meant that the civil investigator had to c0llect all of the evidence, without legal powers, and work out where the data is stored, before it can even be investigated. Is it on the desktop, the laptop, the blackberry, or the email server? Or is it on the backup tapes, or the proxy server held in their US offices?

The client needs the result quickly, and they will pay for it, but how are you going to search all of those emails? EnCase, historically, was no good at email analysis, but DTSearch was. Indexing emails, which only just started in EnCase 6, and will probably not work until EnCase 7, has been happening in the civil industry for over a decade. FTK 1 has also handled emails for a very long time, something often over looked by those dismissing FTK 2 (this site included).

The dawn of Electronic Discovery

While computer forensics stepped into 2 different skills sets, corporate and criminal, the lawyers were dealing with a far bigger problem. They were not investigating 1, 2 or even 10 people at a time, they were investigating entire companies. They needed to look at millions of documents, and forensics simply would not cut the mustard. As the volumes of email exploded, there became a demand for lawyers to be able to search, filter, de-duplicate, cull and review this huge amount of data.

So, as the 21st century started so did Electronic Discovery.  For the past 5 years those in electronic discovery industry have been doing what the computer forensics industry will be able to do in the next 5 years. Deal with huge volumes of email data, search it, and mark what is relevant quickly and easily, through a review platform.

But electronic discovery is a multi-billion dollar business, and the revenue of a computer forensics company pales in comparison to that of a giant electronic discovery company. As a result the research and development in the electronic discovery industry has produce a phenomenal tool set.

Concept searching, clustering, automatic redaction, near de-duplication, keyword searching audio files and language recognition, these are just some of the skill sets in the electronic discovery world.  But even this technology is not enough and where the money is the technology will follow.

Data Analytics

If a multinational company has a suspected fraud, how is that going to be investigated? Simply running EnCase is not going to help;  which of the 100,000 employees computers would you run it on? Which of the thousands of real and virtual servers would you investigate? Even if you did know which, can EnCase handle SAP? Collection and review of the millions of emails may be a start, but is unlikely to find what is required.

The only way to investigate the fraud is to look at the money trail, that means collecting all of the data from all the different databases, accounts payable, invoices, pay role, in different formats, SAP, SQL, Access, Oracle (because no company uses just one type of database,) then converting all of those different databases into a common database.

Once that common format has been created, complex queries can be ran to look for information, e.g. double entries, invoices for contractors going to the same address as employees, shipment for products to the same address as employed contractors, etc.

This brave new world is the area known as data analytics and will more often than not involve forensic accountants rather than computer forensics specalists, but it is still the investigation of data, and it is at the forefront of modern  IT investigations.