Web bug


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Web bug

Also called a "Web beacon," "pixel tag," "clear GIF" and "invisible GIF," it is a method for passing information from the user's computer to a third party website. Used in conjunction with cookies, Web bugs enable information to be gathered and tracked in the stateless environment of the Internet. The Web bug is typically a one-pixel, transparent GIF image, although it can be a visible image as well. As the HTML code for the Web bug points to a site to retrieve the image, it can pass along information at the same time.

Web bugs can be placed into an HTML page used for email messages as most mail programs support the display of HTML pages. See email tracker, cookie, state and anonymous proxy.


A Web Bug Scenario
There are myriad ways in which Web bugs can be used. This example uses a third-party tracking site to determine how much merchandise was purchased for a particular banner ad campaign. In scenarios such as these, the individual users may still remain anonymous, even though their buying habits are disclosed.
References in periodicals archive ?
Privacy advocates have been raising the alarm over Web bugs, which are invisible GIFs that can collect information about Web site visitors without their knowledge (see "Cleaning Up Data Spills," "Tech Talk," May).
These technologies are cookies, web bugs, and port scans.
The analysis of the 2001 data revealed that the sites of eight of the top 50 brands, or 16 per cent, actually had web bugs directly on their home pages - often just one click away from stated privacy policies.
Despite spending several hours immersing myself in DynaMed, I still have not caught the Web bug.
The company says the results indicate that on average, a web page is nearly five times more likely to contain a web bug today than in 1998.
When a page containing a Web bug (hosted on a different server than the Web page) is visited, the bug sends user information, such as current URL, to the third party hosting the bug--usually an advertising or marketing company.
The Web Analytics Association and the Council of the Association for Computing Machinery advocated in favor of the proposal in principle, but they suggested that the OMB look beyond the focus on persistent cookies and more broadly at developing best practices for the use of all technologies for website tracking, including deep-packet inspection and web bugs.
95) examines the future of computer security with an eye to consider not only the factors which make a system secure, but how privacy design pitfalls, web bugs, and other issues can affect security choices and effectiveness.