Security Takes Shape at Market Cube

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-09-21 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Secure Framework

An online market research firm adopts a bot detection and mitigation solution to build a more secure business framework and protect customer information.

For any organization, there is no issue more important than data integrity. For online sample and market research firm Market Cube, which works with major companies and political candidates, it's a make-or-break proposition. Any type of glitch, inaccuracy or breakdown could torpedo trust and ultimately sink the business.

"We deal with market research data samples, typically through email-based interviews," says Ted Pulsifer, principal at Market Cube. "Data integrity is critical."

In fact, Market Cube's business model revolves around compensating all participants for their time—typically $1 to $50 or more per transaction. "We charge more to companies for certain types of data," Pulsifer says. The online nature of the business means that it's imperative to authenticate participants and ensure that the data they provide is real.

"Data quality and transaction quality are critical," he explains. "The fact that these are real transactions that must be compensated is on our minds at every moment."

Unfortunately, the company, like others in its industry, faces a constant stream of bot attacks and other cyber-security threats aimed at stealing credit card numbers and other personal information. "It's something that is always on our minds and something we have to deal with in a very real way," Pulsifer explains.

Bot Detection and Mitigation Are Key Security Defenses

Consequently, Market Cube has deployed a number of tools and technologies to combat the attacks and potential theft. One of its key security defenses is bot detection and mitigation from solutions provider Distil Networks. The company, which operates through the Univox website (a platform to share feedback on products), adopted the security tool in January 2016 and recognized benefits almost immediately.

According to Pulsifer, Market Cube was the target of attackers last April, at which time a huge spike in bot activity occurred. During the attack, traffic volume soared by as much as 10 times and chewed away at network capacity.

The Distil technology, which uses machine learning algorithms, identified and blocked the attacks immediately. As a result, no operations were affected. "The interactive dashboard and reporting capabilities alerted us to the problem, and we took the necessary steps to ensure that the network and data were safe," he reports.

The system relies on inline fingerprinting, a database of known violators, behavioral modeling, browser validation, machine learning and more to protect the network. Yet, one of the most important capabilities, says Alex Leger, vice president of product at Market Cube, is the ability to run JavaScript checks as traffic flows across the network.

"If the JavaScript check fails, then it immediately rejects the browser without it ever actually hitting Market Cube's domain," he points out. The feature is something the company could not find in other solutions.

For Market Cube, the benefits are clear. Ensuring data integrity translates directly into higher trust levels and better customer retention rates. The technology greatly curtails the risk of inadvertently delivering corrupt data to a client, or having to rerun data or lose a client altogether. It also eliminates the need to add hardware and capacity to deal with peak traffic— albeit bot traffic—during attacks.

"Data quality and integrity are king," Pulsifer emphasizes, "and we do everything in our power to protect them."



 
 
 
 
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
 
 
 
 
 
 

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