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How do they do that?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by RacingTurtles, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. When I visit Sydney Morning Herald's site, it tells me how many articles I've read this month. My question is: how do they know?!? Cookies? - no, I clear them regularly. IP address? No, mine is not static, it changes every time I log in (which is often - I tend not to stay connected unless I am actually using the connection). Flash 'super cookies'? Nope - I've cleared them too.
    Yet, somehow, they still track my visits.

  2. They do use cookies so maybe they aren't being cleared properly.

    A simple way to get around the paywall is to use the Incognito mode in Chrome.

    I personally pay for The Age because if no one does we'll lose the resource.
  3. it's not so much about getting around their paywall as the freebies they provide are sufficient for my light use of their site. It's more that I take my privacy and security seriously so I try to stay informed. As far as I know the only ways of tracking anonymous visits to a site are either cookies or using
    IP addresses. So if somebody came up with another way, or even a way of setting cookies that neither my browser or myself can find, I would like to educate myself.
  4. I clear my cookies whenever its says I've read enough and it resets and lets me read more. I should pay, but meh, next you'll want me to pay for all those great movies and TV shows that I can just download for free.
  5. Satellites. Need a tinfoil hat for yourself, and another for your computer. :)

    I'm no network specialist so I'm going to have some stabs:

    Do browsers include some sort of Unique identifier that they create on installation (GUID?) . I know it's possible for browsers to give other information about your machine (the browser name and version, as well as your operating system). (ie check http://www.thismachine.info/)

    Or are they able to get your MAC address when you visit. (MAC Address is supposed to be unique for each network card as I recall).

    Neither of these I thought were possible, but your post has me wondering if there are more ways to track visitors than just cookies and the 'external' IP address..
  6. Now I know you're one of THEM - I know full well that tinfoil myth is perpetuated by the government agents because it actually makes it easier to read our thoughts :)

    It's not a part of user agent string, but who the hell knows?!?

    I thought of that. It shouldn't be possible to get MAC address of my actual desktop since that is only visible within my LAN, but they *could* obtain MAC address of my gateway and just go by that... Maybe, though in theory that would mean they'd be blocking the whole network instead of just one user. But I'll experiment by connecting from another computer on my home LAN and see what happens.
  7. Just a quick browse through the code and it seems like they use a mix of IP address and cookies sent to a external analytics company to process their info.

    If you are interested, go to the homepage (of SMH or any other site) and press F12 (Chrome and Firefox Only). Scroll up and expand the <head> tab. Then have a look at which external scripts they are loading. What stood out to me was

    <script type="text/javascript" async="" src="http://cdn.cxense.com/cx.js"></script>.

    A little more digging and googling got me to this link:

    And video on what their product do:

    Its scary nowadays how much a website knows about you and the info that that are constantly gathering. Either via IP Addresses, Cookies, Webbugs.
  8. Thank you, I think you've got it! I just turned off javascript and headed off to their site - I was able to read as much as I wanted and as a bonus the site loaded a whole lot faster. It still works well enough, in any case the increased speed more than makes up for any functionality lost (which is probably largely related to delivering ads and collecting info, anyway) ... there is a lesson here somewhere, I think.
  9. Think I'll pull the plug out and jump on the bike..... ;)
  10. Excellent advice - I've been following it since... well, ever. I never used Windows on my home computers - I started out on Mac, then switched to Linux. My browser is Firefox, but I don't like to run too many extensions. I do have AdBlock, but I don't bother with the others. I did try NoScript at some point, but I must admit I found it a bit too intrusive.
  11. Thanks for the tip about Ghostery, I installed it and it seems pretty useful.