The Online Tracking Horde: A View from Passive Measurements

  • Hassan Metwalley
  • Stefano Traverso
  • Marco Mellia
  • Stanislav Miskovic
  • Mario Baldi
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9053)

Abstract

During the visit to any website, the average internaut may face scripts that upload personal information to so called online trackers, invisible third party services that collect information about users and profile them. This is no news, and many works in the past tried to measure the extensiveness of this phenomenon. All of them ran active measurement campaigns via crawlers. In this paper, we observe the phenomenon from a passive angle, to naturally factor the diversity of the Internet and of its users. We analyze a large dataset of passively collected traffic summaries to observe how pervasive online tracking is. We see more than 400 tracking services being contacted by unaware users, of which the top 100 are regularly reached by more than 50 % of Internauts, with top three that are practically impossible to escape. Worse, more than 80 % of users gets in touch the first tracker within 1 second after starting navigating. And we see a lot of websites that hosts hundreds of tracking services. Conversely, those popular web extensions that may improve personal protection, e.g., DoNotTrackMe, are actually installed by a handful of users (3.5 %). The resulting picture witnesses how pervasive the phenomenon is, and calls for an increase of the sensibility of people, researchers and regulators toward privacy in the Internet.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    IAB internet advertising revenue report, 2013 full year results. http://www.iab.net/media/file/IAB_Internet_Advertising_Revenue_Report_FY_2013.pdf
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
    Acar, G., Eubank, C., Englehardt, S., Juarez, M., Narayanan, A., Diaz, C.: The web never forgets: persistent tracking mechanisms in the wild. In: ACM SIGSAC (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Barford, P., Canadi, I., Krushevskaja, D., Ma, Q., Muthukrishnan, S.: Adscape: harvesting and analyzing online display ads. In: WWW (2014)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bermudez, I.N., Mellia, M., Munafo, M.M., Keralapura, R., Nucci, A.: DNS to the rescue: discerning content and services in a tangled web. In: ACM IMC (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Castelluccia, C., Grumbach, S., Olejnik, L.: Data harvesting 2.0: from the visible to the invisible web. In: WEIS (2013)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chaabane, A., Kaafar, M.A., Boreli, R.: Big friend is watching you: analyzing online social networks tracking capabilities. In: ACM WOSN (2012)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Falahrastegar, M., Haddadi, H., Uhlig, S., Mortier, R.: The rise of panopticons: examining region-specific third-party web tracking. In: Dainotti, A., Mahanti, A., Uhlig, S. (eds.) TMA 2014. LNCS, vol. 8406, pp. 104–114. Springer, Heidelberg (2014) Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gomer, R., Mendes Rodrigues, E., Milic-Frayling, N., Schraefel, M.: Network analysis of third party tracking: User exposure to tracking cookies through search. In: ACM WI-IAT (2013)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Krishnamurthy, B., Naryshkin, K., Wills, C.E.: Privacy leakage vs. Protection measures: the growing disconnect. In: W2SP (2011)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Krishnamurthy, B., Wills, C.: Privacy diffusion on the web: a longitudinal perspective. In: WWW (2009)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Roesner, F., Kohno, T., Wetherall, D.: Detecting and defending against third-party tracking on the web. In: USENIX NSDI (2012)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vallina-Rodriguez, N., Shah, J., Finamore, A., Grunenberger, Y., Papagiannaki, K., Haddadi, H., Crowcroft, J.: Breaking for commercials: characterizing mobile advertising. In: ACM IMC (2012)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Yen, T.F., Xie, Y., Yu, F., Yu, R.P., Abadi, M.: Host fingerprinting and tracking on the web: privacy and security implications. In: NDSS (2012)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hassan Metwalley
    • 1
  • Stefano Traverso
    • 1
  • Marco Mellia
    • 1
  • Stanislav Miskovic
    • 2
  • Mario Baldi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Politecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Symantec Corp.CaliforniaUSA

Personalised recommendations