Online Tracking is More Rampant Than Most People Realise: Norton Labs Report

Darren Shou, Head of Technology, NortonLifeLock.

NortonLifeLock global research team, Norton Labs,has released their fourth quarterly Consumer Cyber Safety Pulse Report, sharing the top consumer cybersecurity insights and takeaways from October to December 2021. Leveraging the company’s global threat telemetry, the Norton research arm shared analysis, including new findings on the omnipresence of online advertising trackers, as well as scams dominating the final quarter.

Norton Labs found that consumers are tracked as soon as they go online by many different organizations, and the trackers collect significantly more of our digital lives than previously reported, including sensitive information about individuals’. The report reveals that half the tracking organisations encountered by a user in a typical week when browsing, take this data within the initial two-hour browsing period. This suggests that even if users were to clear their browsing history every day, it would only take an average of two hours to re-encounter half of all online trackers.

“While it’s common knowledge that web trackers follow us around the internet, our online privacy researchers were surprised to find that some online trackers know up to 80% of a user’s browsing history. We hope these findings shine a light on online tracking and empower consumers to take back their online privacy,” says Darren Shou, Head of Technology, NortonLifeLock.

In 2021, Norton technology blocked 3.6 billion cyberthreats worldwide – nearly 10 million blocks per day. Throughout the year Norton technology blocked: 53.9 million phishing attempts, 221 million file threats and 1.4 million mobile threats and 253,063 ransomware attacks, around the world.

The Norton Labs report found that the most prevalent scams are tied to Covid-19 and pop-culture. Cybercriminals continued to exploit the pandemic with Covid-19 scams, capitalising on public interest in ever-evolving updates. Moreover, they leveraged consumer interest in popular shows, with phishing scams disguised as product or merchandise offers linked to hit shows , enticing consumers to follow links and share their financial and personal information.

The Norton Labs team’s report details the potential long-term impact of high scale breaches, attacks on trading platforms and streaming sites. The report also emphasises how, despite 2021 featuring significant data breaches and concerning hacks, the global cybersecurity community has worked together by sharing information and developing systems to help businesses and consumers.

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