Feeds

YouGov tests the waters on internet snooping

Mind if we spy on you?

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Participants in a regular YouGov survey were recently confronted with an odd request to download software that would track users' surfing habits.

The July edition of the monthly Oracle (as in prediction) survey asked question about recipients' work and employer before concluding with an internet tracking punt that smelled of something close to spyware.

Would you be willing to participate in a study of people's internet usage. This involves downloading a piece of software onto your computer to track which websites you visit. It will not slow down your machine

YouGov said no software was actually offered and the request was for a international project that its US office was running on behalf of a (unnamed) client. Asked to explain further, the survey organisation said it was essentially testing the waters on whether or not survey panellists would be happy to have their surfing habits tracked.

YouGov is constantly looking for ways to improve the survey experience for its panellists and carries out regular screening on a whole range of activities. The questions on this occasion were simply part of  a standard screening exercise to measure feasibility for such a project - we do not currently have a commissioned study of this nature.  At any given time we conduct studies with the agreed participation of our panellists that provide us information that allow us to improve our services.

Installing unverified software on corporate PCs, even from trusted sources - especially in cases (like this one) where the purpose of the technology is unclear - is risky.

The UK-based Reg reader and survey participant, who tipped us off about the odd offer, said that perhaps YouGov was trying to gauge people's online security sense. "If this is the case, then well done YouGov, and I look forward to some report on how gullible people are," he said.

If YouGov was seriously considering projects involving the tracking of users' surfing habits then the privacy and data protection objections would be huge, especially in Europe.

YouGov is a well established internet-based market research firm that started off in the UK around 10 years ago and has since expanded to the US, Germany and the Middle East. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.