YouTube, Viacom, And Why You Should Fear Google More Than The Government

Reading Wired this morning (and a bunch of other blogs), I learned that a judge ordered Google/YouTube to turn over ALL records of who watched what on YouTube. To Viacom of all organizations, as part of their lawsuit against Google for hosting copyrighted content. The data transfered over includes IP address and what was watched. Gee, think that might leak at some point? Ever watch YouTube porn from an IP address that can be tied to you? No porn? How about singing cats? Yeah, I thought so you sick bastard. But wait, what are the odds of tracing an IP address back to an individual? Really damn high if you use any other Google service that requires a login, since they basically never delete data. Even old emails can tie you back to an IP, never mind a plethora of other services. Ever comment on a blog? The government has a plethora of mechanisms to track our activity, but even with recent degradations in their limits for online monitoring, we still have a heck of a lot of rights and laws protecting us. Even the recent warrantless wiretapping issue doesn’t let a government agency monitor totally domestic conversations without court approval. But Google? (And other services). There’s no restriction on what they can track (short of reading emails, or listening in on VoIP calls). They keep more damn information on you than the government has the infrastructure to support. Searches, videos you’ve watched, emails, sites you visit, calendar entries, and more. Per their privacy policies some of this is deleted over time, but even if you put in a request to purge your data it doesn’t extend to tape archives. It’s all there, waiting to be mined. Feedburner, Google Analytics. You name it. Essentially none of this information is protected by law. Google can change their privacy policies at any time, or sell the content to anyone else. Think it’s secure? Not really- I heard of multiple XSS 0days on Google services this week. I’ve seen some of their email responses to security researchers; needless to say, they really need a CSO. I’m picking on Google here, but most online services collect all sorts of information, including Securosis. In some cases, it’s hard not to collect it. For example, all comments on this blog come with an IP address. The problem isn’t just that we collect all sorts of information, but that we have a capacity to correlate it that’s never been seen before. Our laws aren’t even close to addressing these privacy issues. On that note, I’m disabling Google Analytics for the site (I still have server logs, but at least I have more control over those). I’d drop Feedburner, but that’s a much more invasive process right now that would screw up the site badly. Glad I have fairly tame online habits, although I highly suspect my niece has watched more than a few singing cat videos on my laptop. It was her, I swear! Share:

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The Mozilla Metrics Project

Ryan Naraine just posted an article over at ZDNet about a project I’m extremely excited to be involved with. Just before RSA I was invited by Window Snyder over at Mozilla to work with them on a project to take a new look at software security metrics. Window has posted the details of the project over on the Mozilla security blog, and here’s an excerpt: Mozilla has been working with security researcher and analyst Rich Mogull for a few months now on a project to develop a metrics model to measure the relative security of Firefox over time. We are trying to develop a model that goes beyond simple bug counts and more accurately reflects both the effectiveness of secure development efforts, and the relative risk to users over time. Our goal in this first phase of the project is to build a baseline model we can evolve over time as we learn what works, and what does not. We do not think any model can define an absolute level of security, so we decided to take the approach of tracking metrics over time so we can track relative improvements (or declines), and identify any problem spots. This information will support the development of Mozilla projects including future versions of Firefox. … Below is a summary of the project goals, and the xls of the model is posted at The same content as a set of .csvs is available here: This is a preliminary version and we are currently looking for feedback. The final version will be a far more descriptive document, but for now we are using a spreadsheet to refine the approach. Feel free to download it, rip it apart, and post your comments. This is an open project and process. Eventually we will release this to the community at large with the hope that other organizations can adapt it to their own needs. Although I love my job, it’s not often I get to develop original research like this with an organization like Mozilla. We really think we have the opportunity to contribute to the security and development communities in an impactful way. If you’d like to contribute, please comment over at the Mozilla blog, or email me directly. I’d like to keep the conversation over there, rather than in comments here. This is just the spreadsheet version (and a csv version); the final product will be more of a research note, describing the metrics, process, and so on. I’m totally psyched about this. Share:

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