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Author Topic: Your Anonymous Data Isn't Anonymous, and the Web of (Broken) Trust  (Read 2113 times)


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An interesting article on how trivial it is to link "anonymized" data to real people, and how Web of Trust probably shouldn't be trusted.

In August 2016, a data broker received a phone call from a woman named Anna Rosenberg, who worked for a small startup in Tel Aviv. Rosenberg claimed she was training a neural network, a type of computing architecture inspired by the human brain, and needed a large set of browsing data to do so. The startup she was working for was well-funded and purchasing the data wouldn't be a problem. But given the number of brokers out there, Rosenberg wasn't going to purchase the browsing data from just anyone. She wanted a free trial.


After receiving her free trial data [...] Eckert's first task with the data was to find out if her browsing data was included in the dataset. To do this, she queried the data for the URL linked with her company's login page, which generates a unique ID for each employee.


Although it turned out her browser history wasn't in the data set, by querying the data for her company's login page Eckert discovered that a number of her colleagues were in the data by matching the unique login IDs from the company's page to the individuals.

With this information, Eckert would've been able to see her colleagues' entire browsing history for the last month. One of the colleagues included in the dataset was a close friend of hers, and she reached out to him to let him know that she had his browsing history. The question she had was which browser plugin was collecting and selling this data.

To answer this question, Eckert had her colleague delete one browser plugin every hour until he disappeared from the live data. On the seventh plugin, he disappeared. This suggested that the plugin collecting and selling his browser data was, ironically enough, called Web of Trust, which offers "free tools for safe search and web browsing."

Read the rest of the article here:


Stoic Joker

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Re: Your Anonymous Data Isn't Anonymous, and the Web of (Broken) Trust
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 07:21 AM »
I really wish I could say that I'm shocked ... But I'm not. This is just the prophetic horror story of old (that everyone blew off) coming to the surface in reality's light of day. There are no "private thoughts" on the internet, because the instant you type them into any interface ... Some asshole somewhere, has them instantly logged, cataloged, and packaged for sale to the highest bidder.

Data Mining + Greed = Reckless Endangerment.