Feeds

ISPs scramble to explain mouse-sniffing tool

Would you trust faceless corporations with your, er, mouse movements?

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Sky Broadband has been caught using JavaScript to track every click and shuffle on its support pages, but it's not alone: other ISPs have also admitted recording every frustrated wobble of the mouse on their support pages.

Readers at ISP Review spotted Sky using a JavaScript tool called SessionCam to record rodent tracks on its support pages, but the Murdoch-owned telly company said it doesn't think it's doing anything wrong, while BT also happily told ISP Review that it does the same thing with a similar product called ClickTale.

Sky told the website that data stored by SessionCam is "transferred to a secure environment using SSL encryption and secured using numerous levels of control at an application, data and infrastructure level".

ISP Review is, of course, only concerned with ISPs, but the practice of logging one's activity within a website is far from limited to that industry. For example, Crazy Egg – an outfit which promises "The Astonishing Power of Eye Tracking Technology... Without the High Costs" – counts eBay, Amazon and Dell, among others, in its customer list.

Crazy Egg produces heat maps showing where mice hang out, how far down the page visitors scroll and which bits they spend longest reading. It's not perfect – it can't tell if you've paused to read some text or were interrupted by a human visitor – but it can give a general impression to aid page design.

This is nothing new. Some shopping centres track visitors (as groups) to establish their browsing habits. Companies such as Path Intelligence track every mobile phone in a shopping centre (anonymously, as they have no access to, or – so they say – interest in customers' details) to see how long a window display grabs one's attention or the order in which shops are visited.

Websites have always taken a huge interest in users' behaviour, and gained from the ability to record every click, but is recording every mouse-shuffle a step too far?

Those using the technology don't think so, and while the dancing of a mouse pointer might not seem important, the ability to track one's eyes (to see which advert is being viewed) is already available and slipping into mainstream products. Perhaps we should be working out how much we're prepared to share before we start sharing it. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.