A4 Article in conference proceedings
Invisible pixels are dead, long live invisible pixels!

List of Authors: Ruohonen J., Leppänen V.
Publisher: Association for Computing Machinery
Place: New York, NY
Publication year: 2018
Book title *: WPES'18 Proceedings of the 2018 Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society
Journal name in source: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISBN: 978-1-4503-5989-4


Privacy has deteriorated in the world wide web ever since the 1990s. The
tracking of browsing habits by different third-parties has been at the
center of this deterioration. Web cookies and so-called web beacons have
been the classical ways to implement third-party tracking. Due to the
introduction of more sophisticated technical tracking solutions and
other fundamental transformations, the use of classical image-based web
beacons might be expected to have lost their appeal. According to a
sample of over thirty thousand images collected from popular websites,
this paper shows that such an assumption is a fallacy: classical 1 x 1
images are still commonly used for third-party tracking in the
contemporary world wide web. While it seems that ad-blockers are unable
to fully block these classical image-based tracking beacons, the paper
further demonstrates that even limited information can be used to
accurately classify the third-party 1 x 1 images from other images. An
average classification accuracy of 0.956 is reached in the empirical
experiment. With these results the paper contributes to the ongoing
attempts to better understand the lack of privacy in the world wide web,
and the means by which the situation might be eventually improved.

Last updated on 2019-29-01 at 13:26