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21cm; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 95%; text-align: justify; orphans: 2; widows: 2; }p.western { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 10pt; }p.cjk { font-family: “MS Mincho”,”?? ??”,monospace; font-size: 10pt; }p.ctl { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 10pt; }a:link { }RadiusNetworks defined the AltBeacon specification in an attempt to createan OS-agnostic, open-source standard which wouldn’t favor anyparticular vendor. The specification is available on the AltBeaconwebsite and is free to use without royalties or licensing fees. Likeother beacons, it uses non-connectable, undirected advertisingpackets. The full packet format is described in the Appendix.

Privacy and Security IssuesRecent press coverage hashighlighted fears among some consumers about beacons “tracking yourevery move.” In reality, typical beacons do not collect data sincethey are one-way devices—they only broadcast. They do however, provide theability for a smartphone to know when it’s near a known beacon, andin some cases (if the beacon is stationary), the smartphone mighthave access to information about the location of that beacon. Thesmartphone translates this information to provide location andusage-based services, either through an app or in the case of thePhysical Web, with contextually-relevant search results. It’s important to note thatthe same smartphone can provide the same services based on GPS,Wi-Fi, or cell towers, so beacons are not exposing new concerns, justmaking them more widespread through their success.

In all cases,smartphone users can simply enable or disable proximity services intheir settings. Similarly, concerns have beenraised about beacons creating added security risks for IT systems.But this again implies capabilities that most beacons do not have.The typical beacon is a standalone device with no connection to anyother network, wired or wireless. However, some beacons aredesigned with infrastructure network access which allows for centralmanagement of a beacon fleet. In these cases, the beacon manufacturerprovides the same level of tamper security as they would for anyother device attached to their IT network. On the beaconing side, thebeacon’s data is, by design, broadcast for all to hear so does notnecessarily need to be encrypted or protected in any way. In beaconing applicationswhere proximity to the beacon may have tangible value, such as rewardpoints for example, the beacon OEM will implement additionalsafeguards against beacon spoofing.

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Without them, spoofed beaconsmight fool the system into crediting events too often or to the wrongperson. The safeguards could include simple timestamps for eachproximity event with a test for an improbable or unanticipatedfrequency, the use of ephemeral IDs, or the use of randomizedsecurity keys, generated with each proximity event and validated bythe back-end system.