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What Are Web Bugs?
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Any time you surf the Net, what you do can be tracked. There a number of ways you can be tracked, but a popular technique is to use something called a Web Bug. When used like this the term “bug” doesn’t mean an error in computer coding. Instead, it refers to the kind of bug that can electronically eavesdrop on people. Think of a Web bug as a way of eavesdropping on your activities as you surf the Internet.

Web bugs aren’t used by hackers. Instead, they’re used by folks of a more respectable sort – people who run websites.

Web bugs are tiny, invisible bits of data put on a web page that can be used to track what you’re going and can gather information about you from your computer and send that information to a web site. You can’t see these bits of data, and so there’s no way to know that they’re there. At times, the Web site to which they’re sending information isn’t the one that contains the Web bug. For example, they might send information back to an online advertising network.

Although Web bugs might be tiny bits of data, they can do some pretty serious data gathering. Here are some of the main things that they can track and do:

  • They can find out and report on your IP address
  • They can report on the URL of the page on which the Web bug was located
  • They can report on the time the web bug was viewed
  • They can report on what kind of browser you have – So marketers can know whether you have a PC or a Mac, and your browser.
  • They can read cookies – This is a particularly dangerous capability. Normally cookies can only be read by the sites that place them. Web bugs, however, can get around that, and so can help build sophisticated profiles of your surfing habits.

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