More than 80% of Websites Guilty of Leaking User Search Terms

Share post:

A recent study by Norton Labs shows that eight out of ten websites with a search bar will pass on their visitor’s search terms to online advertisers.

To carry out the research, Norton Labs developed a crawler, which was able to scan what was happening on the top million websites while bypassing browsing disruption and human-confirmation challenges.

The crawler was able to locate the search entries on the pages visited, search for the term “JELLYBEANS,” and then capture all network traffic, including the URL, the request referrer header, which provides more details about the resource received from the server receiving the request, and the payload.

The results showed that the most leaks of search terms penetrated the referrer header (75.8%) and the URL (71%), while payloads contained JELLYBEANS in 21.2% of the cases examined.

81.3% of the one million websites visited leaked information to advertisers on at least one of the three sites studied. Norton Labs said that the number remains the lowest case scenario, as the actual percentage is higher than forecast.

When disclosing the practice of sharing data in privacy policies, the crawler found that only 13% explicitly mentioned “search terms,” while 75% included the generic “sharing of user information with third parties” statement.

In order to protect themselves, users are advised to set their browser so that all third-party trackers cannot be loaded onto the websites they visit.

The sources for this piece include an article in BleepingComputer.

Featured Tech Jobs


Related articles

Cyber Security Today, April 19, 2024 – Police bust phishing rental platform, a nine-year old virus found on Ukrainian computers, and more

This episode reports on a threat actor targeting governments in the Middle East with a novel way of hiding malware is going international

Controversial expansion of US surveillance powers nears Senate vote

The US Senate is poised to vote on a significant expansion of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence...

Canadian police need a search warrant to get your IP address: Supreme Court

An IP address is the key to unlocking a user's internet identity the court's majority

Pornhub operator broke Canadian privacy law, watchdog rules

Site trusted word of boyfriend that woman agreed to have intimate images of her uploaded. It agreed after her complaint to delete the images, but they continued

Become a member

New, Relevant Tech Stories. Our article selection is done by industry professionals. Our writers summarize them to give you the key takeaways