Tech moves fast! Stay ahead of the curve with Techopedia!
Join nearly 200,000 subscribers who receive actionable tech insights from Techopedia.
A Web beacon is a tiny graphic image that surveys a user's Web activity. A Web beacon is often contained in a 1X1-pixel graphic image found within an email or a website as is designed to track the Internet activity of a targeted user. When a user visits a website or sends an email that contains a Web beacon, that information is recorded for analytical purposes. The Web beacon may also point to a website by way of the HTML code, thus capturing the Web beacon image. The user's IP address is then recorded as well as how long a particular page was viewed and at what time. The browser type is also noted as are any previous cookies.
Email marketers as well as phishers and spammers use Web beacons to analyze who is clicking on what emails and to collect other email tracking details.
Another name for Web beacon is Web bug.
Third-party monitoring of website visits in order to gain information is the primary purpose of Web beaconing. A Web beacon can be identified by viewing a Web page's source code along with tags that are loading from a different server than the rest of the site. An embedded URL image can be contained within the Web beacon process. Web beacons may also be used in conjunction with HTTP cookies.
In most modern email systems, the user must choose to load any images included in the email. If users avoid downloading images from unknown senders, this can help them avoic Web beaconing. Users can also protect themselves from Web beacons by turning off cookies.