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Who's Tracking You?

The cover story for the January 2009 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine is a piece I wrote about ways marketers, or even stalkers, can track people through technologies many of us use every day.

Here's a snippet from that piece:

"Free Web services aren't free," says Gregory Conti, a computer science professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. "We pay for them with micropayments of personal information. Users aren't entirely oblivious to the fact that information is being collected, and they're doing a cost-benefit analysis, but they're not thinking long-term."

pmpriv.jpg

Even those who take the time to read a Web site's privacy policy may not realize how many companies have access to their data. That's because most Web sites pull advertisements, snippets of code and other content from a number of third-party sources, any one of which may track the visitor and use the data in a manner that differs from the host site's data-collection policies. "When you visit msnbc.com, you're actually visiting 16 third-party sites, 10 of which are from different companies," Conti says, referring to the secondary content of providers and advertisers whose data make up the page. "You're really dealing with the lowest common denominator privacy policy when many sites are involved."

In the interest of full disclosure, washingtonpost.com also pulls ads from many different locations (using the Firefox add-on "noscript" will actually show you how many). washingtonpost.com's privacy policy is here.

I believe it is important for people to understand the privacy implications of the technologies they use, and the article touches on some of the more pervasive technologies in use today.

The full story is online here.

By Brian Krebs  |  December 12, 2008; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker , Safety Tips , Web Fraud 2.0  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Retail Fraud Rates Plummeted the Night McColo Went Offline
Next: Microsoft: Big Security Hole in All IE Versions

Comments

Internet Explorer's problems are not unique confined to IE.

Most websites uses cross-scripts which they don't monitor nor control.

Anyone who surfs without NoScript is open to all sorts of malicious scripts.

NoScript even detects and stops keyboard redirectors. No browser has that type of security natively!

NoScript is the only safe way to surf, no matter what browser you're using.

Posted by: perspectoff | December 16, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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