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Comparing a random sample of Internet pages archived in July 1998 with another set collected in July 2001--more than one million pages of data--Cyveillance researchers discovered that there has been a 488 percent increase in the use of Web bugs.
Web bugs are hidden graphics embedded in web pages to collect information about visitors to the site.
Cyveillance warns that companies seeking to earn and retain the trust of their customers should be aware that an association with web bugs could seriously undermine those brand-building efforts.
Using our flexible technology platform, our team was able to detect these Web bugs with ease," said Brian Murray, senior director of client services, Cyveillance, Inc.
Federal agencies are currently investigating the web bug privacy issue and drafting legislation based on their findings.
If the document contains an invisible marker called a Web bug, then when the request for the image is made and acted upon within the displaying program, a signal will be sent back to the document author.
Spam beacons are a variant of Web bugs, which traditionally have been used by Web marketing companies to measure page views and track Web surfing behavior.
To determine how competitors are defining Internet terms, for example, users may select topics such as cookies, web bugs, etc.
biometrics, Web bugs, and spyware) and suggestions for minimizing the threat they pose to our privacy.
Those interested in squashing Web bugs selectively blocking unwanted cookies, and turning off banner ads can obtain free software for doing so at www.