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Ad-Tech Firms Grab Email Addresses From Forms Before They're Even Submitted

Tuesday May 17, 2022. 12:40 AM , from Slashdot
Tracking, marketing, and analytics firms have been exfiltrating the email addresses of internet users from web forms prior to submission and without user consent, according to security researchers. Some of these firms are said to have also inadvertently grabbed passwords from these forms. The Register reports: In a research paper scheduled to appear at the Usenix '22 security conference later this year, authors Asuman Senol (imec-COSIC, KU Leuven), Gunes Acar (Radboud University), Mathias Humbert (University of Lausanne) and Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius, (Radboud University) describe how they measured data handling in web forms on the top 100,000 websites, as ranked by research site Tranco. The boffins created their own software to measure email and password data gathering from web forms -- structured web input boxes through which site visitors can enter data and submit it to a local or remote application.

Providing information through a web form by pressing the submit button generally indicates the user has consented to provide that information for a specific purpose. But web pages, because they run JavaScript code, can be programmed to respond to events prior to a user pressing a form's submit button. And many companies involved in data gathering and advertising appear to believe that they're entitled to grab the information website visitors enter into forms with scripts before the submit button has been pressed.

'Our analyses show that users' email addresses are exfiltrated to tracking, marketing and analytics domains before form submission and without giving consent on 1,844 websites in the EU crawl and 2,950 websites in the US crawl,' the researchers state in their paper, noting that the addresses may be unencoded, encoded, compressed, or hashed depending on the vendor involved. Most of the email addresses grabbed were sent to known tracking domains, though the boffins say they identified 41 tracking domains that are not found on any of the popular blocklists. 'Furthermore, we find incidental password collection on 52 websites by third-party session replay scripts,' the researchers say.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
https://yro.slashdot.org/story/22/05/16/2059226/ad-tech-firms-grab-email-addresses-from-forms-before...

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