Is a Web Beacon tracking your online activity?

As you become more computer savvy, you run across foreign technological jargon that leaves you wondering what they define. You also learn that whatever you expose online, regardless of privacy policies, are not as private as you think. I came across this term a while back and thought it was an interesting tidbit to share, just in case you did not know what it was. I know I certainly didn’t. It’s called a web beacon and you’ll be amazed at what purpose it serves.

Web Beacon, is also known as a Web bug, a pixel tag or a clear GIF. Used in combination with cookies, a web beacon is an often-transparent graphic image, usually no larger than a 1 x 1 pixel. It is placed on a website or in an e-mail that is used to monitor the behavior of the user visiting the website or sending an e-mail. When the HTML code for the web beacon points to a site to retrieve the image, it can pass along information at the same time (i.e. the IP address of the computer that retrieved the image, the time the web beacon was viewed and for how long, the type of browser that retrieved the image and previously set cookie values).

Web beacons are typically used by a third-party to monitor the activity of a site. A web beacon can be detected by viewing the source code of a web page and looking for any IMG tags that load from a different server than the rest of the site. Turning off the browser’s cookies will prevent web beacons from tracking the user’s activity. The web beacon will still account for an anonymous visit, but the user’s unique information will not be recorded. (Information retrieved from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Web_beacon.html).

Online security is a hot topic nowadays and people are finding numerous ways that their security is not as secure as they think. Be mindful of what you put out in cyberspace. Your information can easily be compromised. Use common sense when sharing personal information with the online community.

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