Monthly Archives: September 2018

Digital VP Beena Ammanath

Ammanath also serves on the Cal Poly Computer Engineering ProgramIndustrial Advisory Board, helping to shape the future generation of computer scientists with her expertise. She recently was named one of the top female analytics experts in the Fortune 500 by Forbescontributor Meta S. Brown.

In this exclusive interview, Ammanath speaks to TechNewsWorld about AI, analytics, and diversity in tech.

TechNewsWorld: You are one of the thought leaders on artificial intelligence. How do you think AI will impact businesses and jobs?

Beena Ammanath: I have worked in a number of industries — e-commerce, financial, marketing, telecom, retail, software products and industrial — over the past two decades. I have seen how the growth of data from OLTP systems to data warehouses to big data and data science has impacted businesses.

I believe we are just at the tip of the iceberg with AI today. AI is not by itself an industry — more of a technology that is positioned to transform businesses across a number of sectors. AI will be so intertwined and pervasive within business operations in the future that it may be impossible to do business without AI. Fundamental business models of today are going to change, as AI evolves.

Tesla’s driverless car is still in its early AI stage, but it won’t be that long before drivers put their cars completely on autopilot. In a few years from now, Uber may not need drivers; just idle cars will be needed. But even more broadly, the whole transportation ecosystem is going to change.

The Palm Jumeirah Monorail in Dubai is a fully automatic driverless train that can shuttle up to 6,000 passengers an hour. The locomotive industry is poised for a revolution — not only passenger trains, but also long-haul goods transportation.

There will be an impact on jobs, but I see it more as job roles changing and not necessarily as job reduction. The jobs most at risk are those that are routine-intensive and are strictly defined with limited tasks. If you think of the transportation example, in a few years we may not need as many drivers, but we will need more programmers and support personnel.

Plug on Thousands of Dark Net

This incident supposedly was the first hack carried out by the attacker, who claimed responsibility in an interview with Motherboard. In addition to taking Freedom II offline, the person stole 74 gigabytes in files and a 2.3-GB database.

The database stolen from Freedom II contains 381,000 email addresses — thousands of them with .gov extensions, Troy Hunt, who runs the Have I Been Pwned website, told Wired.

However, those .gov addresses may not be legitimate, he noted.

The hack of Freedom II was relatively rudimentary, said Tim Condello, technical account manager and security researcher at RedOwl.

“They identified a configuration issue and used it to identify the root user of the system and gain control of it that way,” he told TechNewsWorld. After gaining control of the system, “they overwrote the index file and redirected the landing page for all the websites to a landing page containing their message.”

 

Shared Vulnerabilities

This attack demonstrates that when it comes to resistance to vulnerabilities, the Dark Web doesn’t have an edge.

“The underlying technology of the Dark Web isn’t anything revolutionary. The way a content management system or a hosting service operates is identical to how it’s done on the open Web,” Condello said.

“The difference is how the content is communicated, so it’s accessible only through the Dark Web,” he continued.

“The code that’s used for a forum on the Dark Web is the same code that’s used on the clear Web,” Condello explained, “so if there’s a vulnerability identified for WordPress, that vulnerability can be exploited on a Dark Web website using WordPress just as it would on the open Web.”

 

Flaws in Dark Web

The attack on Freedom II also shows the danger of concentrating resources in a central location.

“The fact that so many sites used this single particular hosting provider meant that a breach of that provider meant a breach of thousands of sites,” noted Danny Rogers, CEO of Terbium Labs.

“The anonymity of the Dark Web relies on its distributed nature,” he told TechNewsWorld. “These sorts of centralizations create significant weaknesses.”

Although breaking into servers and stealing data on the open Web is illegal, it remains to be seen what the consequences may be for the hacker of Freedom II.

“I’m sure they angered a lot of people, but I’m not sure how much anyone can do about it,” Rogers said.

There may be legal ramifications from the attack, but they could be for the people identified in the dump of stolen data rather than for the hacker.

“The data release is going to be a major boon to law enforcement,” Rogers observed.