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it - Information Technology

Methods and Applications of Informatics and Information Technology

Editor-in-Chief: Conrad, Stefan

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Volume 57, Issue 6


Web tracking: Overview and applicability in digital investigations

Gaston Pugliese
Published Online: 2015-12-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2015-0015


Nowadays, website owners, advertisers, and data vendors can draw on a variety of techniques to track users on the Web. Here, the tracking range can vary from single websites to long-term browsing sessions across several websites and devices. Even though they are widely used, most of these techniques have in common that they are not familiar to average and even web-minded users. Therefore, most users are not able to realize the magnitude of web tracking and its consequences, not to mention to resist tracking. In times of rising concerns about data protection and privacy, this paper is intended to illustrate how web tracking works and which standard techniques are commonly used. The paper also provides an outlook on promising new tracking techniques based on behavioral biometrics. Furthermore, since browser forensics is already a subject to digital investigations, the usefulness of tracking techniques for forensic purposes and their applicability in light of the principle of proportionality is discussed. Finally, possible countermeasures and their effectiveness are indicated.

Keywords: Web tracking; user identification; device fingerprinting; behavioral biometrics; privacy; digital forensics

ACM CCS: General and reference→Document types→Surveys and overviews; Information systems→World Wide Web; Applied computing→Computer forensics→Evidence collection; storage and analysis; Security and privacy→Human and societal aspects of security and privacy→Privacy protections

About the article

Gaston Pugliese

Gaston Pugliese received his B.Sc. in Computer Science & Media from Technische Hochschule Nürnberg. His awarded thesis dealt with behavioral biometric approaches to recognize website users across multiple devices based on mouse and touchpad input. He now is studying Computer Science in the master's degree program at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg.

c/o Lehrstuhl für Informatik 1, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91058 Erlangen, Germany

Accepted: 2015-09-20

Received: 2015-04-03

Published Online: 2015-12-01

Published in Print: 2015-12-28

Citation Information: it - Information Technology, Volume 57, Issue 6, Pages 366–375, ISSN (Online) 2196-7032, ISSN (Print) 1611-2776, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2015-0015.

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