Links for 2017-11-16

  • Why is this company tracking where you are on Thanksgiving?

    Creepy:

    To do this, they tapped a company called SafeGraph that provided them with 17 trillion location markers for 10 million smartphones. The data wasn’t just staggering in sheer quantity. It also appears to be extremely granular. Researchers “used this data to identify individuals’ home locations, which they defined as the places people were most often located between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m.,” wrote The Washington Post. [….] This means SafeGraph is looking at an individual device and tracking where its owner is going throughout their day. A common defense from companies that creepily collect massive amounts of data is that the data is only analyzed in aggregate; for example, Google’s database BigQuery, which allows organizations to upload big data sets and then query them quickly, promises that all its public data sets are “fully anonymized” and “contain no personally-identifying information.” In multiple press releases from SafeGraph’s partners, the company’s location data is referred to as “anonymized,” but in this case they seem to be interpreting the concept of anonymity quite liberally given the specificity of the data. Most people probably don’t realize that their Thanksgiving habits could end up being scrutinized by strangers. It’s unclear if users realize that their data is being used this way, but all signs point to no. (SafeGraph and the researchers did not immediately respond to questions.) SafeGraph gets location data from “from numerous smartphone apps,” according to the researchers.

    (tags: safegraph apps mobile location tracking surveillance android iphone ios smartphones big-data)

  • Quad9

    Quad9 is a free, recursive, anycast DNS platform that provides end users robust security protections, high-performance, and privacy.  Security: Quad9 blocks against known malicious domains, preventing your computers and IoT devices from connecting malware or phishing sites. Whenever a Quad9 user clicks on a website link or types in an address into a web browser, Quad9 will check the site against the IBM X-Force threat intelligence database of over 40 billion analyzed web pages and images. Quad9 also taps feeds from 18 additional threat intelligence partners to block a large portion of the threats that present risk to end users and businesses alike.  Performance: Quad9 systems are distributed worldwide in more than 70 locations at launch, with more than 160 locations in total on schedule for 2018. These servers are located primarily at Internet Exchange points, meaning that the distance and time required to get answers is lower than almost any other solution. These systems are distributed worldwide, not just in high-population areas, meaning users in less well-served areas can see significant improvements in speed on DNS lookups. The systems are “anycast” meaning that queries will automatically be routed to the closest operational system.  Privacy: No personally-identifiable information is collected by the system. IP addresses of end users are not stored to disk or distributed outside of the equipment answering the query in the local data center. Quad9 is a nonprofit organization dedicated only to the operation of DNS services. There are no other secondary revenue streams for personally-identifiable data, and the core charter of the organization is to provide secure, fast, private DNS
    Awesome!

    (tags: quad9 resolvers dns anycast ip networking privacy security)

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