Web Beacon

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What Does Web Beacon Mean?

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.

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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.

Techopedia Explains Web Beacon

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.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.