The Danger of Forgotten Pixels on Websites: A New Case Study

Oct 26, 2023The Hacker NewsWeb Security / Data Protection

Web Security

While cyberattacks on websites receive a lot of attention, there are often unresolved risks that can lead to businesses facing lawsuits and privacy violations even if there are no hacking incidents. A new case study highlights one of these more common cases.

Download the complete case study here.

This is a scenario that can affect any type of company, from healthcare to finance, e-commerce to insurance, or any industry. Recently, Reflectiz, an advanced website security solution provider, released a case study focus on a forgotten and misconfigured pixel associated with a leading global healthcare provider. This overlooked piece of code secretly collects private data without user consent, potentially exposing the company to large fines and damaging its reputation.

Nowadays, it has become a common practice for companies to embed such pixels on their websites. For example, the TikTok Pixel is a common example, added to websites to track site events for TikTok. However, if a pixel like this deviates from its intended purpose and starts operating in an unauthorized manner, it can lead to significant issues. In this context, “rogue” means the unauthorized collection and sharing of user data, which may result in a violation of various data protection regulations.

The Forgotten Pixel

The case study examines a significant incident involving a healthcare website and an external marketing service provider. Four years ago, during a marketing campaign, the marketing provider included tracking pixels into the website. Unfortunately, the pixel was overlooked and remained on the site after the campaign. Over time, as the website underwent changes and expansions, this forgotten pixel continued to collect sensitive patient health information (PHI) without detection. Reflectiz, a proactive website security solution provider, plays a key role in identifying and mitigating these data leaks.

Web Security

Configuration Drift in Complex Web Environments

Complex web environments often suffer from human errors and mistakes, which are often attributed to factors such as work overload and stress. This situation leaves a considerable opening for potential security and privacy issues, with configuration drift being one of the most common problems.

Configuration drift refers to a situation where configurations of IT systems, software, or infrastructure components move away from their intended or desired state over time. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including manual changes, software updates, or accidental changes. Configuration drift can introduce inconsistencies, vulnerabilities, and performance problems within a system, making it a challenge to maintain system reliability, security, and compliance with established standards. standard. Organizations often rely on configuration management and monitoring tools to detect and correct any deviations from the desired configuration.

Serious Compliance Issues

it case study, Reflectiz examines the key compliance challenges companies may face when dealing with rogue pixels in their web environment. This section will highlight the following issues:

  1. Privacy Compliance: Every company must comply with local privacy regulations, such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California. Failure to comply with these rules can result in significant fines, including fines of up to €20 million ($21 million) or 4% of the company’s annual global turnover in the EU, and fines of $7,500 per violation in California . For example, a breach involving the loss of 10,000 records in California could result in a fine of $7,500,000.
  2. PCI v4.0 Compliance: Online businesses with checkout pages are required to comply with the latest PCI v4.0 regulations. To maintain compliance, they must use regular monitoring and other security tools to protect customers’ credit card information.
  3. Industry Specific Regulations: Certain industries are subject to unique regulatory frameworks, such as HIPAA regulations in the healthcare industry. A chart outlining the associated penalties for non-compliance is provided below:
Web Security

The Solution

Reflectiz’s new website security solution plays a key role in discovering and disabling the forgotten rogue pixel, offering an important lesson in the importance of continuous vigilance.

With Reflectiz, you can:

  • Continuous monitoring of all sensitive web pages to detect suspicious activity in any web component.
  • Identify and block third-party web components that track your users’ activity without permission.
  • Find out which third-parties have obtained users’ geo-location, camera, and microphone permissions without permission.
  • Map all web components that have access to sensitive information.
  • Validate that all your existing web security tools are working as intended.

For in-depth analysis and more details, download the full case study here.

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