Digital Shadows – the UK security startup helping firms know their worst enemies

July 21st, 2022 | Posted in Internet Security, Uncategorized

On any day of the year, cyberattacks beyond counting are directed against an alarmingly large number of targets, be they individuals, large enterprises, or nation states. It’s a world we know almost nothing about unless a successful attack is detected after the event by which time response becomes a matter of damage limitation.

The popular way to get a handle on these ‘unknowns’ is to put up defences that are periodically stressed using penetration testing to approximate the way an attacker looks at a company’s systems from the outside. The limitation of this approach is that it is at best a snapshot in time and offers insight on little more than abstract vulnerabilities.

But what if the ‘intelligence gap’ between attacker and defender could be bridged using real-time data before an attack unfolds?

It sounds too good to be true on first hearing but that is precisely the concept small British startup Digital Shadows has pioneered since its founding by CEO Alastair Paterson and CTO James Chappell in 2011. The firm’s platform, SearchLight, is a database-driven ‘awareness’ system that searches 100 million Internet sources in 27 languages including social media, crime forums, GitHub, and even encrypted ‘dark’ nets such as Tor and I2P.

 

This chatter is gathered in an automated way and fine turned with the help of analysts into reports that build a picture of possible targeting at any point in time, be that hours, days or weeks in the future. It can also be used to uncover evidence of undetected past attacks when breached data is passed around within criminals circles.

The idea of trawling around the Internet and dark web looking for scraps of data isn’t new. Many security professionals will undertake this sort of research on their own initiative from time to time. However, SearchLight is a platform that removes both the effort and risks of such a task and does so in a way that will be more methodical and comprehensive than a manual search.

More typically, this sort of data is ignored by large enterprises that might be targeted because it’s too time-consuming to find and process assuming you even know where to look.

It’s a platform that could help re-define how organisations understand security intelligence gathering. When you reduce the concept to its bare essentials it sounds pretty extraordinary. Where digital forensics is a method for understanding an event after the fact in order to fine-tune future response or for compliance, the hunt for a ‘digital shadow’ is about looking for actionable intel.

In a sense, Digital Shadows is about getting ahead of the game. It stands or falls on a simple formula – if someone out there wants to attack a firm it is possible to get some pre-warning of that event before it happens and then understand what happened in more detail afterwards.

In the world of mathematics, differential equations fed enough variables will predict the future, up to a point. A digital shadow is something more analogue than that, more a hint or a connection that a particular type of attack is being undertaken against a sector, a country or, occasionally, a specific organisation or its executives.

Digital Shadows – IG Group

“It gives me visibility on hit words that I’m interested in. It sends alerts to my team in real time,” confirms Stefan Treloar, head of Information Security at spread betting company, IG Group, a Digital Shadows customer.

After using the system at his previous job at National Lottery firm Camelot, Treolar saw the relevance for IG Group, where he uses it to monitor groups or threat types he’s interested in. Every morning he and his team can study the dashboards they have set up, receiving an immediate alert if a particular type of threat against the company or the sector is detected.

This is a hugely complex task at some levels and includes the need to translate from languages other than English so that Treolar can make sense of what he is being told.

“It is giving me visibility into a world that is outside of my control. These types of solutions help you make informed decisions. There is quite a lot of chatter about financial institutions,” he says.

Treolar had been able to keep tabs on specific threat actors, fulfilling his belief in the importance to “know your enemy.”

“If someone was talking about us we are now in the best position we could be without us finding out about it through the Daily Telegraph.”


How To Power Your Website With Twitter Bootstrap Theme

July 20th, 2022 | Posted in Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter Bootstrap is a collection of tools created by Twitter to help people build web design themes and application. You can find them with WordPress and other major hosts. They’€™re simple to install and use. Test them out with one of your websites and see if they work out for you. Here’s how you can power your website with a Twitter Bootstrap theme.

What is Bootstrap on a Lower Level?

Let’€™s take a look at what Bootstrap is when we look at it from a design point of view. It’€™s not a plugin or a theme where you can just click a button and install it. You need a separate plugin for this, although these aren’€™t recommended since they’€™re still highly unstable.

Bootstrap themes are a collection of CSS and Javascript file components which are ready to use as part of a web application. It sounds quite complicated. Novices generally struggle to implement them. Instead, they employ an expert to do it for them.

To properly power a website, you’re going to have to delve into the basic components of what makes up a website.

Make a Theme

Bootstrap isn’€™t simply about the aesthetics of a theme. It’€™s about being able to manipulate different aspects of it. If you don’€™t like the width of the content space you can change it by simply altering the code. Bootstrap is a platform not a theme maker in itself. You have complete control over everything.

Powering Your Site

It all starts with making a theme which suits your website. The files you make must be uploaded to the server directly, as is the case with any other theme. As an example of this, go to any of your websites not made with Bootstrap and logon to your host server. The host will have all these files stored here. View all the different folders. You need most of these base files to power your site.

If you want to make a site from Bootstrap, you must upload these same files. It all starts with HTML and some CSS.

Responsive Design

You don’€™t have to worry about whether your website will be responsive. Twitter Bootstrap receives regular updates, so it’€™s managed to stay updated with the major changes in the industry. The only disadvantage of the tools is there’€™s no support for the new languages of HTML5 and CSS3.

Whilst this isn’€™t really a problem right now, designers who want to get ahead of the game won’€™t be able to use them. Twitter Bootstrap makes it easy to power your website using the here and now, though. It will automatically adjust itself according to whatever device is attempting to access the website.

Is it the Best Way to Power Your Website?

Bootstrap offers so many benefits it’s hard to discount it. It’€™s no surprise NASA has used these web application tools in their own computer programs. It isn’€™t however ideal for novices who don’€™t know anything about coding. For everyone else, this is ideal for gaining control over your website’€™s looks and getting a unique look nobody else can replicate.

Rachel is a web developer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She regularly uses Bootstrap themes Bootstrap themes to help her clients improve their websites. She believes a good Bootstrap themes leaves a lasting first impression and reduces web bounce rates.


Using Social Media & Live Support Software To Handle Customers Complaints

July 19th, 2022 | Posted in Business, Uncategorized

The new online world is set up for convenience. Customers the world over have always demanded convenience. Neglecting the worlds of social media and live support software for your customer service needs is probably the most inconvenient thing that you’€™re doing to your customers.

In this article we are going to look at:

  • What live support software is and how it works.
  • How social media factors into customer service.
  • Why your business needs to use both of these to give a complete range of options to customers who wish to speak with you.

The days of only being able to call someone up on your telephone is one that is well in the past. Using my phone I can contact my friends through text messaging, email, Twitter, Viber, Whatsapp, Facebook Messaging, Skype and sometimes I even call them!

Despite this being the case socially, some businesses still only offer a telephone number and an email address for their customers to speak with them. It is time to catch up or be left well behind!

What are live support software applications?

Live support software is a type of customer service program that allows consumers the chance to contact a company with their questions and concerns without talking on a phone. This allows for people to have the immediacy of a phone conversation, but with the trackable dialogue of email.

To give a practical example, have you ever had someone give you directions over the phone only to forget them the moment you hung up? That won’€™t be problem as the text stays with you on your screen.

The program itself is usually very simple. A text box appears on the screen of the site visitor after they meet some criteria. This criteria can be when they spend a certain amount of time on the site, or when visiting a certain page. This connects to the dashboard on the screen of an operator. The operator can respond and share information through this dashboard.

This all happens through some sort of JavaScript, Java or Flash Player application for the most basic uses. VoIP, app sharing, screen sharing and other more advanced features are available for those who want to go beyond simple text.

How does social media factor in?

Quick moving applications, Twitter being the best example, are frequently used by people to ask little questions here and there. It is also being used more and more by those who wish to air complaints about companies and brands publicly – and you should be there to hear what people have to say.

Social media as customer support works in three main ways:

  • Customers come right to you and make comments and complaints through direct messages, or on your own public message board.
  • Customers complain about you in a post, but do not come to you directly by using hashtags.
  • Potential customers make comments that can be found through various sorting software programs so that you may offer assistance.

Think of a place like Twitter as a live chat app that the whole world shares. This is pretty much true as it has the ability to connect people from all over the world in dialogue. It may not function in the traditional back and forth of a web chat, but the dialogue is there if you know how to follow it. Try learning about hashtags, mentions and other Twitter specific programs such as:

These are worth a paragraph each, more than we have space for in this article. For further details, check out this post on Twitter management tools that I wrote elsewhere as it covers a few more of these in greater depth.

Why is it important to use these tools?

The reasons why you will want to use social media and live chat to do customer support are:

  • People are becoming more and more used to having links and relevant websites sent to them to explain problems, and which they can refer back to for reference later on. You can’t do this easily over the telephone.
  • Your employees who use these tools will also have a better experience as supporting articles and reference can be sent, instead of having to explain complex problems repeatedly. No more second and third phone calls!
  • Time is saved if a special department has to be called in – they can just read all of the text that has been written so far and get up to speed with the conversation. This does not happen on the telephone and is a major headache for someone. Who wants to explain the problem multiple times to one company?

All three of these points add up to less time being spent by your employees on doing customer support jobs, while your customers get even better service – gaining you new followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and any other social media platform you use.

This is one of those rare win-win situations in business that you must take advantage of. If your competitors are doing this, and you’€™re not, they will serve your shared consumers better and your share of the market will shrink.


New Platforms That Help to Increase Your Reach on Social Media

July 18th, 2022 | Posted in Social Marketing, Uncategorized

It’s no secret that Facebook is more of a place to share content than create it. With limits on word count and customization, writing an article on Facebook is a hassle. Similarly, self-serve and hosted blog platforms like WordPress prove to be great for creating content, with varying degrees of customization, but attracting an audience or even installing the site often takes expert knowledge. In both scenarios, the content isn’t as much the issue as its distribution.

This conundrum is an ever-present scenario in the eyes of digital content creators. While there are tools and platforms in place to assist with content creation, most won’t help content creators find an audience nor facilitate meaningful relationships with end-users. Let’s take a look at the thriving platforms that are able to attract publishers and content creators whose works elicit emotions that inspire a reader base to share and promote their content.

Tumblr

In terms of social content platforms, Tumblr reigns supreme. It grew from under 170,000 unique monthly visitors in 2007 to over 38M by early 2012, according to D. Steven White. Yahoo!, who acquired the company in early 2013, claims that Tumblr’s rapidly growing mobile base is often unaccounted for, changing the figure of roughly 47.5M monthly visitors to well over 70M.

Why It Works: Tumblr succeeded by introducing its viral repost feature, which allowed users to share funny content on their blog or search through various blogs in a Facebook style newsfeed to curate content relevant to their interests.

How It Works: Tumblr’s best asset is as a complimentary blog to a brand or content marketer, showcasing content that is complimentary to a brand’s interests and inspiration. A great example is the White House, which joined Tumblr to reach a young audience by showcasing beautiful images of America and shedding light on how new policies impact the US.

Facebook Notes

There was a point where Facebook and Twitter sparked rumors of “Blogging is Dead.” These social media sites showed the world that personal micro-content is here to stay. However, blogging only became more popular as Facebook and Twitter evolved from platforms where users just hang out to platforms where users hang out and share interesting content they create. Content creators had to resort to other mediums to publish, but Facebook sought to change everything with Notes. Notes was clearly a feature implemented after being rebuffed by Yahoo in the acquisition of Tumblr, but Notes has been pushed mainly to obscurity by the new timeline redesign. Still, there is no news of Facebook giving up on the platform and the social giant has over 1.23 billion users.

Why It Works: Facebook Notes was a response to long form publishing platforms that were eating Facebook’s social share like Tumblr and Blogspot. It works simply by being on the world’s largest social platform.

How It Works: Facebook is still the world’s largest social platform and will be for the foreseeable future. Notes can be shared with friends or posted to a timeline, similar to status update, allowing anyone to join the discussion about the content.

PostHaven

Posthaven is another platform that grew out of the ashes of Posterous, the incredibly fast microblogging platform that was acquired by Twitter. PostHaven is young and growing rapidly, and not ashamed to say they will be around much longer than their predecessor. Simple site designs place a strong emphasis on engaging with the content over flashy advertising or news feeds. PostHaven requires users to pay $5 per month for continued usage, but guarantees that price won’t increase ever. The user fees provides a stable source of funding that helps the platform to provide new updates, new functionality and other improvements

Where It Works: The Posterous community, which was very large (over 30M) and included many tech enthusiasts should be in support of this platform as popularity rises.

How It Works: Too soon to tell, although adoption is growing.

Olanola

Another relative newcomer to the blogging world, Olanola mixes social, content customizability, and viewership. This new social content platform allows users to create their own custom websites and begin to immediately engage with a built-in audience through embedded tools and functionality. Olanola features a popularity algorithm that surfaces the most relevant content, based on what the reader is most likely to find interesting and engaging, their preferred verticals/interests, viewing history and content they create on the platform.

Where It Works: As a secondary platform for a brand or content marketer, Olanola allows users to RSS content into the platform to create a microsite or community that engages with their content on the platform.

How It Works: It’s too early to tell, but Olanola is featuring a Viral Blogging Contest to introduce users to the platform at http://www.olanolacontest.com. Create viral content for a chance to win a free iPad.


6 of the Best and Most Popular Twitter Tools

July 17th, 2022 | Posted in Twitter, Uncategorized

There are several social networking sites that are available in the market and all are working extremely hard to be the best platform to express views, share special moments and many more wonderful features. Twitter is one of the sites that have millions of followers across the globe. But when it comes to using the tools, it can be quite confusing to choose which one is the best that will help manage your twitter accounts. Below are top 6 Twitter tools that help in managing Twitter account efficiently and are widely used by social media experts:

  1. Triberr

This is a wonderful tool that helps you expand your reach by joining different tribes of similar bloggers in this social networking site. Users simply need to plug in an RSS feed, after which the members of the tribe can tweet new post. You can either tweet manually after reviewing and approval of the posts or you can set yourself up for automatic tweeting of posts of the other members.

  1. Buffer

Buffer is a very interesting tool that gives you the chance to tweet in a smart way. In order to shorten the links being scheduled, its inbuilt URL shortening can be used. It is an extremely essential tool used by social media experts since it allows them to determine what audiences love the most out of contents that are shared by them throughout the day.

  1. TweetDeck

This is a wonderful Twitter management tool that creates specific columns, making it very easy and useful in organizing twitter activity. Its interface is extremely easy to use, creates shortened URLs, helps while sending longer messages and provides various other useful features.

  1. paper.li

This is a unique and very advanced application used by the social media experts that allows every user to collect and combine tweets into any newspaper style format. It can even be automatically shared on individual Twitter accounts. It is a helpful tool for collecting top tweets from people on any specific Twitter list, tweets from the followers or even anyone who uses a certain #hashtag. Due to its unique features, this tool is appreciated and used by the majority.

  1. Hootsuite

This is among the personal favorite twitter tools used by professional social media experts around the world. Hootsuite is a free tool for those who wish to manage less than 5 social profiles. But if you are looking for the Pro version, then it is also not that steep. At just the price of $5.99 per month, it lets you manage unlimited social profiles with enhanced analytics. Apart from handling your Twitter account, it also helps you to manage your other social networking accounts quickly and easily.

  1. Tweepi

Tweepi helps you to easily understand and make a quick analysis of the present data in your account as well as others’. This tool provides you with numerous ways of searching the users who might be keen about your brand. Once you have found your group of targeted users, you can interact with all of them by just ‘@mentioning’ them, ‘following’ or ‘adding to list’. Twitter sends notifications to such users through SMS and email. And if they are genuinely interested, then they can check your profile easily and follow back. It also allows you to flush out your unfollowers.

Social media experts are using several Twitter tools that have made their lives extremely easier to check and track the status of every update or post. If you want to get noticed, using any of the Twitter tools mentioned above is better than using no tools at all.

Eileen Burton is a small town girl who has an endless passion in blogging, social media marketing and everything tech. Currently working in an assignment consultancy in UK, she also loves to read a lot especially the novels of her favorite author Dan Brown.