#DataPrivacyWeek: Online Trackers Can Detect 80% of Users' Browsing History

Online trackers can capture up to 80% of users’ browsing histories, with the practice far more pervasive than previously realized. This is according to Norton Labs' quarterly Consumer Cyber Safety Pulse Report, which analyzed online advertising trackers from October to December 2021.

It showed that consumers are tracked by an average of 177 different organizations per week while browsing online, raising significant privacy concerns. The researchers noted that the top trackers can view 80% of an average user’s browsing history despite appearing on a smaller number of unique domains.

The study also found that half the tracking organizations encountered by a user in a typical week collect this information within the initial two-hour browsing period. This suggests that even if users clear their browsing history every day, it would only take an average of two hours to re-encounter half of all online trackers.

Darren Shou, head of technology at NortonLifeLock, commented: “While it’s common knowledge that web trackers follow us around the internet, our online privacy researchers were surprised to find that some online trackers know up to 80% of a user’s browsing history. We hope these findings shine a light on online tracking and empower consumers to take back their online privacy.”

The new report also revealed cybercrime and online fraud trends during 2021. The company said it blocked around 3.6 billion cyber-threats worldwide last year, equating to nearly 10 billion per day. This includes 53.9 million phishing attempts, 221 million files threats, 1.4 million mobile threats and 253,063 ransomware attacks.

Additionally, the researchers revealed how cyber-criminals continued to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic to launch scam attacks, as well as consumer interest in popular TV shows. This includes phishing scams disguised as merchandise offers linked to hit shows.

Last year, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) called on G7 countries to work together to tackle cookie pop-ups and their impact on online users' privacy.

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