Transport for London (TfL) is planning to roll out a system to track commuters making use of public Wi-Fi hotspots across the London Underground in coming months.
The UK transport agency said on Wednesday that “secure, privacy-protected data collection will begin on 8 July 2019,” with improved customer services — including warnings over delays and station congestion — expected to appear later in the year.
The rollout builds upon a trial of the technology in 2016. At the time, TfL said the four-week test was launched to “give TfL a more accurate understanding of how people move through stations, interchange between services and how crowding develops.”
Now, TfL says that tracking the data generated by commuters will also give the agency an insight in where to “prioritize transport investment.”
See also: Transport for London’s contactless and mobile device payments system will be adopted in some American cities
Wi-Fi hotspots were introduced during the pilot across 54 stations within Zones 1 to 4. If a passenger had Wi-Fi enabled, the hotspots would record connection attempts and connectivity searches through their MAC addresses.
In a period of four weeks, over 509 million pieces of data were collected from 5.6 million mobile devices across 42 million journeys.
Now, the information pool is likely to expand exponentially. However, it is only connection requests which are collected, and no browsing activities or histories are accessed.
TfL’s aim is to generate information on the network through more than 260 Wi-Fi access points in the Underground without needing to rely on travel records gleaned from tickets alone.
TechRepublic: How has GDPR actually affected businesses?
“Currently, TfL uses data from its ticketing system to understand how journeys are made across the network,” the agency explained. “While this is accurate for people entering and exiting the stations, this data cannot show the flow of movement through a station. Using depersonalized Wi-Fi data will give a more accurate, almost real-time, understanding of the flow of people through stations or interchanging between services.”
In addition, TfL hopes that the data may eventually be used to give commuters up-to-date information on crowding through the transport authority’s website and apps — as well as boost ad revenue by tracking footfall more accurately.
An API with access to commuter information is also in the works for the development of “new products and services.”
While the agency says every scrap of data is depersonalized, the data collection will be enabled by default. Commuters that wish to opt-out will need to turn their Wi-Fi setting off or enable Flight Mode when they enter the Underground.
CNET: Instagram influencer data taken offline after exposure
Privacy concerns generally surface when data-slurping practices are launched with an opt-in set as default. In order to try and allay such fears, TfL says it has “worked closely” with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the handling of data management and transparency.
Customers will soon see posters and notices warning them of the upcoming infrastructure changes, and while the technology is rolled out and tested across the Wi-Fi network, data will not be stored.
Previous and related coverage
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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications
Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.
In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.
Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection
“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”
In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.
A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.
Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.
When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?
DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.
But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.
The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.
From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”
This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.
Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”
A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:
- Create: Help to set and implement policy
- Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
- Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
- Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application
The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.
Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”
In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.
Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.
DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise
While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.
The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.
At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”
High Performance Application Security Testing
This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.
While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.
Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.
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