Vulnerabilities / Threats
9/16/2009
06:12 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Consumers Accept Device Fingerprinting, Study Finds

To fight online fraud, consumers are warming to the idea of technology that identifies the device they're using.

Computer users are willing to accept device profiling if it leads to improved security and less sharing of personal information, according to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, an independent privacy research organization.

The study, Online Consumers' Reaction to Device Fingerprinting, was sponsored by ThreatMetrix, a security company that sells device profiling software.

Device profiling involves the analysis of information about an Internet user's hardware, software, and network traffic to identify typical usage patterns and to raise a red flag, if, for instance, the user is suddenly accessing a Web site with a different operating system or from a different country.

ThreatMetrix marketing VP Tom Grubb claims the company uses only public data to profile Internet users' machines, such as information about the browser and plug-ins being used, the operating system, TCP/IP packet headers, and sometimes cookies without any personally identifying information.

The Ponemon study found that 78% of the 551 adult Internet users surveyed believe online merchants, banks, and social networks should use technology, such as a "cookie" or software, to safeguard customers. But only 21% wanted to see online sites demand more personal data for authentication.

Almost 70% of respondents indicated that they could accept having their computers authenticated as part of an online purchase and 75% expressed a preference for computer authentication because it's easier than remembering passwords or answering questions about personal history.

Despite this, respondents also expressed worries that device identification could lead to exposure of personal information (33%) and that merchants might misuse device authentication data (12%).

The study demonstrates broad concern about online fraud but reluctance to be bothered with knowledge-based authentication or passwords. Consumers, in other words, want security but don't want to work for it.

In a phone interview, Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said the acceptance of device profiling was a surprise given the longstanding privacy worries about cookies and other tracking mechanisms.

"People are more likely to feel that the anonymity of a technology is more important than the privacy it creates," he said.

Avivah Litan, a Gartner VP and analyst who focuses on financial fraud, acknowledged that device identification is being used by online banks and credit card issuers to help prevent account takeovers. But she said the technology has limits.

"It's not foolproof at all," she said. "If a cyber criminal takes over your browser, it won't work."

The technology is most useful, she said, as one layer among many.


Get all the data from this year's InformationWeek 500 survey free for a limited time. Our report examines business and technology best practices as well as IT investment trends among the nation's most innovative IT users. It also provides industry comparisons against which you can benchmark your company's strategies. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2808
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Bionic in Android before 4.1.1 incorrectly uses time and PID information during the generation of random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a rel...

CVE-2014-9713
Published: 2015-04-01
The default slapd configuration in the Debian openldap package 2.4.23-3 through 2.4.39-1.1 allows remote authenticated users to modify the user's permissions and other user attributes via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0259
Published: 2015-04-01
OpenStack Compute (Nova) before 2014.1.4, 2014.2.x before 2014.2.3, and kilo before kilo-3 does not validate the origin of websocket requests, which allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users for access to consoles via a crafted webpage.

CVE-2015-0800
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Mozilla Firefox (aka Fennec) before 37.0 on Android does not properly generate random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a related issue to CVE-2...

CVE-2015-0801
Published: 2015-04-01
Mozilla Firefox before 37.0, Firefox ESR 31.x before 31.6, and Thunderbird before 31.6 allow remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy and execute arbitrary JavaScript code with chrome privileges via vectors involving anchor navigation, a similar issue to CVE-2015-0818.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.