Changing the world through data science

By Kenji Takeda, Director, Azure for Research

Alan Turing asked the question “can machines think?” in 1950 and it still intrigues us today. At The Alan Turing Institute, the United Kingdom’s national institute for data science in London, more than 150 researchers are pursuing this question by bringing their thinking to fundamental and real-world problems to push the boundaries of data science.

One year ago, The Turing first opened its doors to 37 PhD students, 117 Turing Fellows and visiting researchers, 6 research software engineers and more than 5,000 researchers for its workshops and events. I have been privileged to be one of these visiting fellows, helping the researchers take a cloud-first approach through our contribution of $5 million of Microsoft Azure cloud computing credits to The Turing. To be part of this world-leading center of data science research is exhilarating. Cloud computing is unlocking an impressive level of ambition at The Turing, allowing researchers to think bigger and unleash their creativity.


“We have had an exceptional first year of research at The Turing. Working with Microsoft, our growing community of researchers have been tooled up with skills and access to Azure for cloud computing and as a result they’ve been able to undertake complex data science tasks at speed and with maximum efficiency, as illustrated by some of the stories of Turing research showcased today. We look forward to growing our engagement with the Azure platform to help us to undertake even bigger and more ambitious research over the coming academic year.”
~ Andrew Blake, Research Director, The Alan Turing Institute

Human society is one of the most complex systems on the planet and measuring aspects of it has been extremely difficult until now. Merve Alanyali and Chanuki Seresinhe are graduate students from the University of Warwick who are spending a year at The Turing applying novel computational social science techniques to understand human happiness and frustration. They are using AI and deep neural networks to analyze millions of online photos with Microsoft Azure and their findings are providing deeper insights into the human condition.

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Kenneth Heafield, Turing Fellow from the University of Edinburgh, has been using thousands of Azure GPUs (graphical processing units) to explore and optimize neural machine translation systems for multiple languages in the Conference on Machine Translation. Azure GPUs enabled the group to participate in more languages, producing substantially better results than last year and winning first place in some language pairs. The team is working closely with Intel on using new architectures, including FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) like Microsoft’s Project Catapult, to make even bigger gains in machine translation.

Microsoft is delighted to see The Alan Turing Institute setting up a deep research program around ethics, a crucial topic in data science, AI and machine learning. Our own human-centered design principles are that AI technology should be transparent, secure, inclusive and respectful, and also maintain the highest degree of privacy protection. We are pleased that Luciano Floridi is leading the Data Ethics research group at The Turing as his perspectives on areas such as healthcare are helping us to think about how we can ensure that technology is used in the most constructive ways.

The first-year at The Turing has been impressive. We look forward to another exciting year as we work together on projects in data-centric engineering, blockchain, healthcare and secure cloud computing. Along with Microsoft’s data science collaborations at University of California, Berkeley, and through the National Science Foundation Big Data Innovation Hubs, we are perhaps getting closer to answering Alan Turing’s profound question from 67 years ago.

Learn more:

For Sale – Hp 17.3″ 12gb Ram Amd Quad-core A10 CPU HD 8610g VGA

selling HP Pavilion 17-f068no
very good condition 8/10
original charger included
no original box , cant find it
i think keyboard its EU layout.

17.3″ diagonal FHD LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
12 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Ram
AMD Radeon R7 M260 Graphics
1 TB Hard Drive
Beats Audio Stereo Speakers
HP TrueVision HD Webcam (front-facing) with integrated dual array digital microphone

Price and currency:315

Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT , PPG
Location: Armagh
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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For Trade – EVGA GTX 1070 FTW DT for EVGA GTX 1070 Gaming/SC

As per title, I want to swap my EVGA GTX 1070 FTW DT for a EVGA GTX 1070 Gaming or SC Gaming.

I finally got myself a Dr.Zaber Sentry case, and my FTW card fits, but the power connectors don’t! You can observe the sad situation in the timestamp pics. Looking for a kind person to swap with for a slightly smaller card.

Compared to the regular/SC cards, FTW cards have (1) better power delivery (2x8pin vs 1x8pin), (2) better cooling (larger heatsink and 10cm fans vs 9cm on SC) and (3) RGB LEDs. DT stands for DeTuned, it’s the cards that were built as FTW but for some reason did not pass the full QA suite, and is therefore set back to reference clocks. It does not mean it’s garbage though. I can run a stable overclock to 2010MHz Core/4460MHz Memory, which gets a Unigine Heaven bench FPS of 95 and a score of 2400 on 1080p Ultra settings.

I have the box, accessories, manuals, etc. The card still has 2 years of EVGA warranty on it.

Timestamps

Happy to answer any questions, do more benchmarking, etc!

Price and currency: n/a
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: n/a
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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Advanced Protection Program locks down Google accounts

The latest Google multifactor authentication solution aims to protect high-risk users from targeted attacks, but will add complexity to logins.

Google’s Advanced Protection Program has been designed to not only help keep users safe from phishing attacks such as spear phishing as well preventing unauthorized access to Gmail accounts by having users take advantage of physical security keys — like a Yubikey — for authentication.

“Journalists, human rights defenders, environment campaigners and civil society activists working on any number of sensitive issues can quickly find themselves targeted by well-resourced and highly capable adversaries,” Andrew Ford Lyons, a technologist at Internews, said in Google’s announcement post. “For those whose work may cause their profile to become more visible, setting this up could be seen as an essential preventative step.”

Google’s Advanced Protection Program could help to prevent some types of cyberattacks seen over the past couple years, including the phishing schemes that compromised the Gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, or the Google Docs phishing attack.

According to Google, the Advanced Protection Program focuses on three areas of defense: using a security key for multifactor authentication, limiting third-party app access to Gmail and Google Drive, and mitigating fraudulent account access by adding steps to the account recovery process.

Google warns that third-party mobile apps like Apple Mail, Calendar and Contacts “do not currently support security keys and will not be able to access your Google data,” so Advanced Protection Program users would need to use Google’s first-party apps for now.

How the Google Advanced Protection Program works

Google has supported security keys for multifactor authentication in the past and has an option to use mobile devices as a multifactor device, but the Advanced Protection Program is far more strict because there will be no backup options with SMS or stored authentication codes.

Users will only be able to login to Google accounts with their password and registered security keys. If a security key is lost, the account recovery will be more onerous than answering simple security questions, but Google has yet to provide details on what such a recovery process will entail.

For those whose work may cause their profile to become more visible, setting this up could be seen as an essential preventative step.
Andrew Ford Lyonstechnologist at Internews

Although anyone can enroll in the Advanced Protection Program, Google admitted in its blog post that it would be best for those who “are willing to trade off a bit of convenience for more protection of their personal Google Accounts.”

At the start, the Advanced Protection Program requires the use of the Chrome browser and two security keys that support the FIDO U2F standard — one to connect to a traditional computer via USB port and one for mobile devices using Bluetooth.

The former isn’t as troublesome, but users need to be careful about the security key used for mobile. Google’s support page suggests purchasing the Feitan Multipass Bluetooth security key, which appears to be in limited supply on Amazon, as of this post, but, a Bluetooth security key is only necessary for those using iOS devices or an Android device that doesn’t support Near Field Communication.(NFC) for wireless access. An NFC-enabled security key would work for those with NFC-capable Android devices. 

For Sale – Cheap MacBook for sale

I purchased this on a whim to see how I’d get on with Macs – I’ve decided they are not for me…will stick with Windows laptops.

Condition isn’t great – will upload some pictures but other than that it’s all fine.

Specs;
CPU T2400
2GB RAM
60GB HDD

Comes with official PSU, battery holds some charge (not used enough to gather how good it holds charge but certainly it holds charge).

This is the one

Was after £67 inc fully insured delivery but open to reasonable offers.

Any questions or tests you want me to carry out just ask :)

Price and currency: £67
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: ppg/bank xfer
Location: Farnborough
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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Microsoft mum on 2013 database breach of bug tracking system

Microsoft’s internal bug tracking system was hacked in 2013, and no one outside the company knew about the database breach until now, according to a Reuters report.

The breached database was accessible with just a password, according to five former employees. But after the database breach Microsoft added two-factor authentication, as well as other security measures to better protect the bug tracking system containing detailed descriptions of unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft software.

Shortly after reports surfaced in 2013 of a security incident at Microsoft, the software giant had stated only that a “small number” of computers had been infected with malicious software. However, it turns out that the database breach exposed details of critical — and unpatched — bugs in Windows and other Microsoft software.

The bugs documented in the breached database could have been used by threat actors to create exploits against the unpatched software, although the ex-employees told Reuters that a Microsoft investigation after the database breach failed to uncover any evidence that the vulnerability data had been used in any attacks on other organizations.

“The compromise of Microsoft’s database highlights that everyone is vulnerable to sophisticated intrusions,” Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and CTO at CrowdStrike, told SearchSecurity by email. “From the adversary perspective, having access to critical and unfixed vulnerabilities is the ‘holy grail.’ We may be seeing the ripple effects of this hack for some time and many businesses may end up suffering stealthy compromises.”

According to Reuters, the group behind the database breach was identified as Wild Neutron, also known as Morpho and Butterfly. The breach was discovered after the same group accessed systems at Apple, Facebook and Twitter. The Wild Neutron group, considered to be well-resourced and focused on financial gains, is not thought to be a state-sponsored threat actor.

This isn’t the first time a bug tracking system breach of major software provider has been made public. In 2015, Mozilla announced that its Bugzilla bug tracking system had been accessed by an unknown attacker, who used at least one of the vulnerabilities breached to carry out attacks on Firefox users.

In other news

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has given federal agencies just 30 days to develop plans to enhance email and web security under a new binding operational directive (BOD). Under the directive, BOD 18-01, agencies have 90 days to deploy STARTTLS on all internet-facing mail servers and to begin deploying Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance, to validate email and combat spam and phishing attacks. STARTTLS is a protocol option added to email and other application protocols in order to specify that transmissions of that protocol use Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol encryption. Under the new BOD, agencies have 120 days to transition all web content to HTTPS, instead of HTTP, to drop support for deprecated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) versions 2 and 3, and to disable 3DES and RC4 ciphers on all web and mail servers.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether authorities can access data stored anywhere in the world. The case in question involves a warrant for emails believed to be connected to a narcotics investigation that were stored on a Microsoft server in Ireland. A warrant was issued for the emails in 2013, which Microsoft challenged in court. Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post this week that Microsoft is contesting the warrant “because we believed U.S. search warrants shouldn’t reach over borders to seize the emails of people who live outside the United States and whose emails are stored outside the United States.” The Justice Department argues that because the data being demanded can be retrieved from Microsoft’s U.S. headquarters, the data must be turned over no matter where it is being stored.
  • Google added limited antivirus capability to Chrome for Windows this week. Citing the importance of preventing unwanted software from running on browsers, the ad giant announced three changes to Chrome for Windows that would help prevent unwanted software from taking over the browser. Philippe Rivard, product manager for Chrome Cleanup at Google, wrote that Google “upgraded the technology we use in Chrome Cleanup to detect and remove unwanted software,” working with antivirus and internet security vendor ESET to integrate its detection engine with Chrome’s sandbox technology. Chrome is now able to detect when an extension attempts to change user settings, a tactic that malicious software sometimes uses to take control of the browser by manipulating search engine results to steer users to malicious sites. The other major change was a simplified method for removing unwanted software using Chrome Cleanup.

Why open network systems are so difficult to find

Andrew Lerner, an analyst with Gartner, has seen increased interest from Gartner clients in open network systems since the beginning of the “SDN craze” four or five years ago. Lerner said although openness is widely preferred, it falls on a spectrum — one that is complicated by marketing claims from leading network vendors.

Most vendors offer closed, proprietary products, where openness boils down to either support for Border Gateway Protocol or to a published API. At the controller layer, Ethernet fabrics don’t interoperate, and multichassis link aggregation groups aren’t supported across vendors.

When it comes to open network systems, Lerner said proprietary network systems will continue to exist in most enterprises for the foreseeable future. He cautioned network professionals about claims that a proprietary feature is the only way to solve a requirement and to be wary of standards.

Professionals need to be careful of proprietary standards that inhibit interoperability. In many cases, it may be best to simply ask a networking vendor about its level of support for open network systems, such as third-party software or management with another vendor’s automation platform, and discount unqualified claims.

Explore more of Lerner’s thoughts on open network systems.

The benefits of security analytics and operations

Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said he sees security operations analytics platform architecture (SOAPA) catching on since he first began writing about it a year ago. ESG research indicated that 21% of enterprises are beginning to integrate security operations technologies and to consider the creation of a security operations architecture a priority. An additional 50% of respondents were somewhat active in this field.

According to Oltsik, the move to SOAPA is driven by a variety of factors in IT departments, including goals of better identifying and communicating risk to the business, automating manual processes and overcoming lags in incident response time.

Oltsik suggested enterprises, together with the government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, need to partner to create common standards for SOAPA. In Oltsik’s view, standards would increase technology options, allowing chief information security officers to, for example, add security analytics in one year and endpoint detection response tools the next, even as they improve innovation and increase security efficacy.

Additionally, he said SOAPA would help to create a global sense of community in the cybersecurity industry, with professionals trained on a common security architecture.

Read more of Oltsik’s thoughts on SOAPA.

Changing up your Ansible playbook

Ivan Pepelnjak, writing in ipSpace, took a look at making changes to an Ansible playbook. In a previous article, Pepelnjak wrote about a playbook he uses to collect Secure Shell keys and the tedium of having to write ansible-playbook path-to-playbook every time to run the collection. Because Ansible playbooks are YAML documents, which use # to start comments, he reasoned that by adding a shebang character sequence, he could convert the YAML document into a script.

From there, Pepelnjak used a Bash shell to execute the file. First, he entered chmod+x playbook to make the playbook executable and found the path using “which ansible-playbook.” Lastly, he recommended adding a symbolic link to the playbook in one of the directories along the search path. At the end of the process, the Ansible playbook became executable just like other Linux commands.

Dig deeper into Pepelnjak’s thoughts on Ansible playbooks.

Wanted – Intel i5-4670

As title I’m looking for an Intel i5 4670 processor (1150 socket), with or without cooler.

Looking to pay around £60-£70 inc delivery and can pay via PPG/BT.

Location: Milford Haven

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For Sale – Samsung NP900X3D Ultrabook

Ok, so im selling my Samsung ultrabook that has served me well for a few years.
I do not have the box for it so it comes with the laptop and original charger only.
Its in good condition and I do try to look after things. There are afew light marks on it which I have tried to photograph.
The battery seems to last 2-3 hours still.

The specs are
Intel i5
4GB ram
256gb SSD (crucial I upgraded)
13.3″ screen
Windows 10 ( I will install fresh after backing up my photos)

It was originally windows 8 then 8.1 then 10 when it was released.

I use my Macbook Air for portability now more than this so time to move on.

There is one on that auction site listed at £390 so I feel £320 is a reasonable price.

Price and currency: 280
Delivery:
Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: bank transfer
Location: Darlington
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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For Sale – Alienware 17, i74710MQ, GTX 880M 8GB, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 500GB SSHD £670

I am selling my Alienware 17 laptop which was bought just over two years ago (So no warranty left). It is in excellent condition with no noticeable wear or tear as it has been very well looked after.

Mostly used for 3D and video editing it has spent most of it’s time in my office at work with a keyboard and mouse setup so the surface is still in excellent condition and not shiny from greasy hands like you see on a lot of pre-owned Alienwares.

Plays recent games at very good settings. I have attached some screenshots of Battlefield 1 being played on Ultra Settings (at 1080p) where it kept around the 55-60 fps mark and at Medium Settings (also at 1080p) where the fps would stay around the 70 to high 70 fps mark. You can see the Nvidia FPS counter in the top right hand corner of the monitor :)

The one thing about this laptop I have to disclose is that there is just one dead pixel on the screen. It’s not noticeable whilst playing games. I only noticed it because of doing work in Photoshop.

Windows 10 64bit is installed on the 256GB SSD (There’s a 500GB SSHD in there too!) and I have done a fresh re-install so you’re good to just fire it up and install your games! There is no pre-installed software to play DVDs. Included will be a usb drive that is set up as a recovery drive if you ever need/want to reinstall Windows 10 yourself.

Any questions, just ask! :)

Spec re-cap,

17″ 1080p screen (one dead pixel)
i7 4710MQ quad core
GTX 880M 8gb graphics card
16gb ram
256gb SSD (OS installed on this drive)
500gb SSHD
DVD drive (Buyer will need to source own software to play DVDs)

OH, and if someone would rather collect then I’ll also throw in an Alienware 17 laptop back pack and a CoolerMaster laptop cooler. I will not post these items though, they are freebies if you collect. :)

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Price and currency: 750 now 700
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank Transfer
Location: Dundee, Scotland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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