Here at Conntac we care about the internet – after all, we are in the business of solving broadband internet connectivity issues. But we also care about the users of the internet – in particular their privacy and safety. Members of the Conntac team have contributed over the years to research and standardization of internet technology and protocols.
Most recently, we have co-authored a Request for Comment (RFC – the internet protocol standards documents) that addresses potential privacy threads your internet-capable devices might make you subject to. That RFC is called “Privacy Considerations for Protocols Relying on IP Broadcast or Multicast” (RFC 8386) and deals with currently prevalent behavior of devices and users – it is really all about you!
The problem today is, that there are a number of protocols deployed on billions of devices that share information with every other device in a local area network (e.g. your home, your office, at a meeting, at a café or at the airport). Very often, these protocols use the device’s name to convey information, and this is where you play a role: as it turns out, most people name their device after themselves. In other words, everybody connected to e.g. the same WiFi as you has the opportunity to learn your name. But it does not stop there because other protocols that might seem harmless in isolation disseminate information as well. Given that anybody knows your name now, this information will reveal even more about you and Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites will complete the picture and it all starts with your device’s name. This is a blueprint for digital stalking.
This sounds scary and to a certain degree it is. In particular if you connect your device to a network that you do not fully trust. But there is something you can do and you really should. Never name your device after yourself! Not even your first name! Seriously! Here’s a list of websites that help you find and change your device’s name.
Happy to be of service. Your friends at Conntac!