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Does Web Masking Kill Open Data? By @ABridgwater | @BigDataExpo #BigData
So-called ‘open data’ is supposed to be an instrument for breaking down information gaps across industries

Does Web Masking Kill Open Data?

Do the ‘darker' channels and means that exist for searching the web in anonymity ultimately spell doom for the wider march towards open data?

So-called ‘open data' is supposed to be an instrument for breaking down information gaps across industries and letting companies share benchmarks and best practices that raise productivity - all information should be open and that should (theoretically) include granular data such as logs and users' usage of websites (within the boundaries set by reasonable privacy concerns) and so on.

But a team of university security researchers says it has developed a method of anonymous web browsing that works at the same speed as ‘browsing exposed in public.'

Data encryption layers
SC Magazine UK reports news of this research team now working on a technology that is capable of encrypting data multiple times in multiple layers to shield users' searches from the eyes of authorities.

The high-speed masking technology in question goes by the name HORNET - High-speed Onion Routing at the Network Layer.

According to the report, "Other technologies in this space such as the original The Onion Router (or Tor) technique have used ‘relay networks' to obfuscate and conceal a user's location while browsing."

Will technologies like this ultimately put an end to our dreams for open data?
Imperva
is a provider of cyber security solutions that protect business-critical data and applications in the cloud and on-premises.

Itsik Mantin, director of Security Research at Imperva, says that it is true that anonymous browsing is used quite often for illegitimate activity such as cyber-attacks on web applications, drug dealing and child pornography. "However, despite this justifiably notorious reputation, anonymous browsing is far more than that," he says.

A point of justification
With the growing usage of information gathered on the users, Mantin argues that anonymous browsing seems to be the only way today to browse the web for flights to Bangkok (for example) without getting bombed for weeks later with offers for Thailand flights, hotels and touring agencies wherever you browse.

From a web application admin worker's perspective, Mantin says that the growing offering of anonymous browsing technologies brings new challenges to the admins of web applications, with attackers having more and more means to hide their activity.

The problem, the issue, the talking point
Of course data masking is not what the open data movement and the http://opendataplatform.org/ open data platform association of companies is setting out to address per se.

The Open Data Platform Initiative (ODP) is a shared industry effort focused on promoting and advancing the state of Apache Hadoop and Big Data technologies for the enterprise.

But, regardless, the undercurrents caused by data masking and use of relay networks to obfuscate and conceal a user's location while browsing are, to some as yet undefined degree, an element of the total open data equation.

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services

About Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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