Feeds

Quova tracks mobile net users

They know where we are - and it's for our own good...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Mobile internet users can now prove their location to a website or remote network service, according to geolocation specialist Quova.

Quova has developed downloadable applets which enable a laptop or smartphone to locate itself, for example by picking up the MAC addresses of local Wi-Fi APs, or the cellular base-stations in the area.

The company's systems currently locate internet users based on data such as their IP address and domain. Retailers, banks, and others can use this to localise a website for that user or add credit risk-scoring, say, while broadcasters use it to check which services a visitor is eligible for.

Running the location applet will be optional, claimed Marie Alexander, Quova's CEO. She was at pains to point out that this is not about service providers invading privacy, but about subscribers verifying their location - for example, to gain access to services that are only available in certain areas.

"The BBC uses it not just to differentiate UK visitors [so they can download 'listen again' content], but also to route the user to the best server," she said. "It is also going to extreme lengths as it prepares to launch the BBC Worldwide site to ensure UK users are not exposed to the version with advertising."

Other uses for the technology include fraud detection, by checking whether an online shopper's location matches the address on their credit card records. If the locations differ, the retailer could flag the transaction as higher-risk and perhaps ask the would-be buyer for extra verification, she said.

The concepts are the same as those used by credit card companies today to watch for unusual spending patterns that might indicate fraud, but the signals they need to look for are rather different, she added.

"With cybercrime, the perpetrator tends to be in a different location to the victim, according to FBI and Interpol evidence," she explained. "It's not like someone stealing your card, and 10 minutes later they're trying to use it down the road.

"The complexity and context is important too - for example, the velocity of transactions, and does the type of purchase match the domain?"

She gave the example of an attempted fraud where a supplier received a number of official-looking orders for business-class IT gear, but when the location was checked they all turned out to come from public internet terminals at a 24-hour copy-shop.

Quova's systems and researchers locate IP addresses via a number of techniques, including both automated and manual methods of mapping ISP networks, Alexander added. However, some service providers cross national boundaries, such as T-Mobile, or users may connect through anonymising proxies, hence the need for an additional layer of location data. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
No biggie: EMC's XtremIO firmware upgrade 'will wipe data'
But it'll have no impact and will be seamless, we're told
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.