It turns out that nearly nine out of every ten websites shares your data to third party sources without receiving your consent or your permission.
The scope of these poor security controls was revealed in a study by University of Pennsylvania privacy researchers Tim Libert. In his study, Libert quantified all the privacy compromising mechanisms that are featured on the world’s one million most popular websites.
Libert wrote, “Findings indicate that nearly nine in ten websites leak user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware.”
The study was conducted by using Libert’s own personal open source software known as webXray. In the past, Libert has used the program to analyze web trackers that have been installed on health and pornographic website.
Libert found that the vast majority of websites were siphoning user data and sharing it across the internet.
“Sites that leak user data contact an average of nine external domains, indicating that users may be tracked by multiple entities in tandem,” he wrote.
According to the results, when you visit any given website, that website is likely to forward your user data to nine external websites. Often these external websites include Google, who keeps track of analytics software. Google is said to be the single largest violator of tracking web users.
According to Libert, while users may see an ordinary website on their browser, there is actually much more that is going on. A larger hidden internet is essentially looking back at them.
Libert said, “If you visit any of the top one million sites there is a 90 percent chance largely hidden parties will get information about your browsing. Most troubling is that if you use your browser setting to say ‘Do Not Track’ me, the explicitly stated policy of nearly all the companies is to flat-out ignore you.”
Libert states that Google is a particularly major offender for tracking users. Making matters worse is that users are almost never informed that they are being tracked by Google. Libert also credits Twitter for being a website that takes efforts to not track users without receiving their permission.
As for people who do not want to be tracked, Libert suggests making use of the TOR browser, which prevents one’s IP address from being obtained.