Feeds

YouGov tests the waters on internet snooping

Mind if we spy on you?

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.