This Week in Data #2019-1

Welcome to the first post in my weekly series of blog posts. We will be going through trending and relevant articles, tools, and tips around the topics of data science, digital privacy, security, and other tech topics. Here is an overview:

  • Facebook's hidden image tracking
  • Comprehensive Network penetration course for beginners (free)
  • How to get started in Cyber Threat Intelligence
  • "How Couples Meet"
  • Link Analysis on Amazon, YouTube and Reddit
  • Hate crime caught by auto-connected WiFi settings

Article: Facebook hiding tracking data in images

It goes without saying that Facebook has been in the news for its share of privacy and tracking related concerns. The following is very interesting but should not come as a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention. Facebook has been inserting "IPTC special instructions" which serve to enrich the metadata in an image. These codes can be used to track the spread of images both within and outside of the Facebook site and application. From an analytics point of view, I can see this being useful to analytics managers that look at the spread of images used in ads. From an information warfare point of view, this can be used to determine the origin of images used in disinformation campaigns on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram. This is not the only thing Facebook does with images, it also classifies photos on both Instagram and the main Facebook site.



Tutorial: Beginner Network Penetration Testing course (free)

@thecybermentor on Twitter created a great free network penetration course on Youtube and Github. Anyone looking to break into this side of security should consider going through the course. The reviews and comments so far are stellar.

Tutorial: Getting started in Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI)

Katie Nickels posted a pretty comprehensive guide for starting off in CTI. Her firm MITRE is one of the leaders in this field.

Paper: How Couples Meet

Even though the internet has its share of negativity, at least it's helping people meet and find love. Read the Stanford study below to learn more.


Thanks to a tweet by @WebBreacher I was able to explore a really cool link analysis / data science tool built by @anvaka at Amazon. It allows you to search any product on and show you related products. For YouTube it will show you videos related to each other. Reddit search I couldn't get to work yet. The YouTube search feature is very useful to look at reccomendations when you search controversial topics. This is the 'YouTube Rabbithole' that a lot have written about, and Youtube has since changed their reccomendation engine to reccomend less relevant videos. Note: for the Amazon search you may have to refresh the page and solve a captcha for each new query. For the YouTube search you can still find controversial videos by searching terms that are used widely in the right-wing but not covered in media. I've attached an example below.

You can still see the 'Youtube Rabbithole' if you search the right relevant terms

Article: Hate crime caught by auto-connected WiFi settings

A group of teens were caught vadalizing their school with hate symbols. They thought they were sneaky but their devices gave them away. Many people forget that WiFi can be used to track devices and people throughout enterprises and stores. The same can be done with bluetooth, the New York Times have a good article on this.


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