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).
The use of 'web bugs' - hidden online information collectors - has rocketed nearly 500 per cent in the past few years, according to new data from automated internet intelligence firm Cyveillance International.
Despite spending several hours immersing myself in DynaMed, I still have not caught the Web bug. If you already like the Web, though, it might well be a site worth checking out.
These technologies are cookies, web bugs, and port scans.
The use of web bugs, or hidden graphics in web pages for the collection of information about visitors to the sites, has increased 488% in the past three years, according to new research by the UK-based automated Internet intelligence provider Cyveillance International.
The use of web bugs is contrary to this assumption.
Ghostery tries to keep you up to date by detecting all the "invisible" parts of a web page (such as web bugs) so you can see who's doing what, then opt out of tracking by letting Ghostery's GhostRank sit in-between you and them.
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.