Friday, 20 July 2012

More Mobile Madness

If you didn't read our previous post here, then check it out for some background information.

We've also subsequently added Verizon and T-Mobile to the list of telcos that are allowing private information flow past their proxies.

In these carriers cases, they are pushing out the MSISDN header which gives away the end users's phone number. Now it's possible that the user's mobiles are giving this away, however, we definitely feel like the carriers should make an effort to protect the users that are coming through their proxies.

Here's an example request from T-Mobile:

Accept-Language: en-US
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.2.1; en-us; SGH-T959V Build/FROYO) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1
Accept: */*
Accept-Charset: utf-8, iso-8859-1, utf-16, *;q=0.7
X-Nokia-sgsnipaddress: XXX.155.174.198
X-Via: Harmony proxy
Connection: keep-alive

We found about 50 instances where folks numbers were being disclosed in this fashion, and they were exclusively from Verizon and T-Mobile.

Why Hasn't Anyone Said Anything?

Obviously analytics companies and click fraud companies who are doing deep analysis must have seen this before. We are a new startup, with very small (comparatively) traffic numbers. If after seeing some very small samples of our beta testing customers sites, and picking this up, we would be surprised that no one has noticed this before.

But here is the tough part of the situation. A good portion of analytics, and click fraud detection is being able to isolate a visitor on the other end of the HTTP stream. It is advantageous to have uniquely identifying information flowing in because it makes the job of the click fraud detection company a lot easier. If only we could see each user's phone numbers! Hopefully no one is heavily relying on this type of information to create visitor profiles or you're algorithm is going to be severely bitched after all the mobile companies (and their users) get wind of it.

This is precisely why we all need to do a better job of how we approach this problem, and why we feel our approach is different. Let's just hope these mobile carriers, and any others who are paying attention, fix these issues and be on the lookout for them in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment