Internet, Security, Technology

Look, Ma! I’m on Security Now!

July 14th, 2008 by Jeff | 2 Core Dumps

I hope to post more on this when there’s more data to post, but I thought I’d throw up a quick note stating that the latest episode of the Security Now! “netcast” features a question posed by yours truly. (The best part was listening to Leo Laporte stumble over my long-winded rambling. 🙂 ) The high-quality version of the show can be found at the previous link; a low-bandwidth version as well as a text-only transcript can be found at the corresponding page at GRC.com. A search in the transcript for “Darlington” will take you to the beginning of my question; in the netcast, it starts around 38 minutes, 22 seconds in. (Of course, I encourage everyone to read/listen to the entire thing.)

For the full effect, though, you’ll also need to listen to/read the previous two non-Q&A episodes of the show, #149 and #151. (Low-bandwidth and trascriptions can be found here and here.) The entire dialog concerns the recent trend of ISPs selling out their customers to allow third-party advertisers to come in and install hardware at the ISP to facilitate tracking the ISPs’ customers’ surfing habits across sites. While the ad companies in question claim to not be recording personally identifyable information about the ISPs’ customers, the capability is there and the possibilities for abuse are enormous. It brings back many shades of the DoubleClick controversies of the late 1990s-early 2000s, only much more ominous. I provided a unqiue standpoint to the discussion: that of a Web developer hosting a site and encountering similiar mysterious “first party” cookies set for my domain but not set by me.

The full body my question is present, but I’m not completely satisfied with the answer. 😀 Let’s just say I think Steve Gibson made an assumption about the GPF site that’s not 100% true. I’ve replied to his response with additional information. I don’t necessarily expect another response (he does, after all, have his own agenda to follow on his show), and even if he does it will likely be in episode #154, the next scheduled Q&A episode. If anyone is interested, I’ll post updates if and when this occurs. If I don’t get a response, I’ll post my response here, especially since it contains some disturbing observations about “first party” cookies that have mildly paranoid folks like me nervous. (I’d hate to see what it does to really paranoid people.)

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