How Websites Invade Your Privacy

Discussion in 'General Website Security' started by David, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. David

    David New Member

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    Surfing the Web may feel like a solitary experience, but in fact, every time you visit a new website, that website gathers information about you. The information might be something like how many pages you visit on the site, for example. But it might be not-so innocuous as well. The site may track every page you visit and the amount of time you spend on each page. It might examine your IP address and find out your geographic location and your place of work. And it may gather a lot more information and be able to put together a surprisingly sophisticated and complete profile of who you are and your personal interests. So, how is this done?

    In some instances, the site may use this information to better deliver information to you, it might customize which pages it shows to you, depending on your past surfing habits on the site, for example. The site may customize the ads it delivers to you as well.

    But it might do more with that information as well, which can be disturbing. It might be able to create a complete profile of you and then sell that information to advertisers, other websites, or the highest bidder. When information like this from a website is combined with offline databases with profiles about you (such as what you’ve bought at particular stores), an extremely complete profile about you can be built.

    Three technologies are often used to track your web activities – cookies, web tracking, and web bugs.

    Cookies are bits of data put on a hard disk when someone visits certain websites. There are legitimate uses for cookies for example, they make it easier for people to use websites that require a username and password. The cookie on the hard disk has the username and password on it, so people don’t have to log in to every page that requires that information. Instead, the cookie sends the information to the server and the person can visit the page freely.

    Cookies can contain many kinds of information, such as the last time a person visited the site, the person’s favorite sites, and similar information. They can be used to track people as they go through a website and to help gain statistics about which types of pages people like to visit.

    Although cookies can be used to track how people use a website, many other methods can be used, as well. In one method, web server logs are examined in detail. This would make it possible, for example, to identify the most popular pages on the site, the sites people have just visited, how many pages people read in a typical visit, and similar information. Other methods include using software sniffers that examine every packet coming into or going out of a website. Webmasters can use this tracking information to help create better sites but they can also use it to assemble demographic information to sell to advertisers.

    Web bugs can also trace people’s paths through a website. Web bugs get their name not in reference to an error in a program, but instead from the term to bugas in “to wiretap.” More dangerously, web bugs can be included in email, and they can actually enable people to view some of your email.

    CNN has a report detailing an unsavory practice euphemistically called “price customization.” In short, websites examine the web data you automatically shed (cookies, IP address, etc.) so they can charge you a different price for a product or service depending on your “identity” and shopping habits.

    The article cites “a retail photography Web site charging different prices for the same digital cameras and related equipment depending on whether shoppers had previously visited popular price-comparison sites” and “one Amazon buyer who deleted the electronic tags on his computer that identified him as a regular customer and noticed the price of a DVD changed from $26.24 to $22.74.”

    Yep — it’s good old-fashioned price discrimination, the inevitable result of an increasingly “personalized” Internet.

    Supporting the preservation of online anonymity isn’t only good for protecting your privacy and free speech — it can also help you protect your wallet. That’s something to bear in mind as the pressure grows to create an Internet that knows who you are and what you do.


    Understanding the Privacy Policy

    An established organization which requests for personal information from you will furnish a specific thing on its Web site in order to signify the site’s intention regarding securing your connections with it. A number of web sites may possibly incorporate their security and privacy policies within one document, or even they may tag it as security policy or privacy report. Generally, you will come across a link to the privacy policy somewhere on the Web site’s home page. A very good privacy policy responses the following issues:

    What details are collected involuntarily regarding customers while they connect with the web site?

    • Exactly what alternatives do customers have got if and when they don’t really wish to voluntarily reveal required personal information?
    • What details are collected regarding customers when they makes use of the company’s products and services?
    • What details are collected regarding customers’ laptops or computers as well as software?
    • How exactly does the particular Web site separate private from nonprivate information 
    • How does the Web site secure private information?
    • Who’s got access to customers’ private information?
    • What use actually does the site make of cookies?
    • Does the website owner show or perhaps sell details gathered about its customers?
    • How does the web site’s protections differ for private and public information?
    • Does the website demand customers to permission received or select away from information collecting?
    • Do customers have the ability to access information that is certainly collected about them?
    • Exactly what steps should customers stick to should they need to opt beyond information collecting or perhaps have got their private data removed from the company’s systems?
    • So how exactly does your website ensure its online privacy policy is enforced? ¡ Who can customers contact for assistance with privacy concerns not addressed in the policy?
    Before determining to trust or sell to any site, locate and focus its privacy. In most cases, the policy will provide reassurance your details are being treated as safely as you possibly can. In rare cases, there’s a chance you’re surprised to realize that your website quite plainly spells out that it’s going to collect all kinds of information about you and then sell on it. If the site is honest, you’ll be able to a minimum of make an informed decision to accept the chance or go elsewhere.

    As a practical demonstration of the method that you would use a online privacy policy, let’s think about a situation in which you are looking at buying something derived from one of of three internet shopping services, all of which need you to complete the sector that asks for your e-mail address because you setup your bank account (ostensibly to enable them to communicate along with you about your order).

    For the first site, the sign-up page provides a check box that says,“Yes, send me announcements of latest products and updates,” thereby supplying you with the choice of deciding whether or not you want to receive future correspondence from that company. The button is claimed to lead you to subscribe to be combined with their regular customer email list.You’d like more information before deciding, so you click the hyperlink towards the site’s security policy, which is displayed elsewhere on the Web site. The safety policy states that this Web site won’t ever sell customer information, stores it securely, and uses it simply for the goal of communicating news about services to customers. Should you be very pleased with this using your data, you proceed to enter important computer data.
     

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