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 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.
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.
IDcide's Perry recommends educating programmers about the dangers to privacy posed by Web bugs
and improperly coded forms.
The analysis of the 2001 data revealed that the sites of eight of the top 50 brands, or 16 percent, actually had Web bugs
directly on their home pages, often just one click away from stated privacy policies.
Twenty-three web bug
patterns in four different type categories have been discovered and built into the engine used by Site Sentinel(SM) to uncover and protect businesses and consumers from these tracking devices.
A detailed Privacy Advisory, along with demonstrations and graphics of how the document Web bug
works, plus a list of questions and answers, is available at the foundation's website at www.
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.
Although web bugs
are not specifically prohibited for official website use, the White House confirmed it will investigate whether use alongside cookies is in breach of official guidelines.
Internet Cleaning -- Includes spyware protection against adware, key loggers and Trojan horse programs;Protection against Web bugs
, ad banners, and pop ups; manages cookies; includes a locking mechanism to prevent snooping; and prevents unauthorized access to applications.