Building a website design is a critical task and so designers have a long list of doing when they are up to their task of building a unique yet effective website design. Whenever we are building a website, we usually concentrate on best UX and UI designs to come up with, but while taking these points into consideration, we forget the security concerns of our website and keep delaying them.
Do you know that there are many companies that provide the option of "session replay" where you can actually record each and every activity of your user? Yes, that's true. Session replay scripts are capable of recording how you are browsing through a particular website, what you are typing, where you are scrolling, and everything else that you are doing online.
Throughout this article, we will explore how some design tools are putting user’s privacy at huge risk and cover following points;
1.How it is a big risk for user’s privacy?
2.Reasons for designers to use them.
We all are aware of the fact that there are plenty of things going in the background of every website that users are not aware of. Most of the websites have scripts that provide them all types of data about our activities throughout the session. This tracking session is called “session replay” and it allows the tracker to link user’s activities back to the social media accounts. We even have a unique script that allows the owner of the website that you are using, to track and watch entire happenings on the website. This tracking tool can give access to following activities.
• Where ever you are scrolling to browse.
• All of your details that you are typing. This can even include your personal information also.
Though these tools give an option to hide user’s personal details, there is a huge possibility of ignoring this option by many people. So, they might have a backspace where your personal information may be still lying without your notice. This can cost you huge isn’t it? You might be thinking that why this type of design tool is used and how it is risky for user’s privacy? Here is the answer to your question.
1.How “screen replay” is a big risk for user’s privacy?
This tool allows web developers to track the entire session of users, right from where they are moving, what they are typing and other details. Capturing personal details without user’s consent is definitely a huge expense that developers are keeping at risk.
Have a look at popular session replay companies that is used widely:
All of them are used by numerous companies and by having a closer look researchers found many website’s evidences there. These evidence websites include big brands like Lenovo, HP, Gap, Comcast, Adobe, Microsoft Windows, Autodesk and the list goes on. This long list increases the possibility for you to use similar websites that have tracked your activities and personal information.
It can be shopping websites as well where you have given your phone numbers, credit card information and other personal details. Session replay companies are providing these tools in order to redact personal information from the recordings, but after testing them and try to use the same, they found that these tools are not working in a proper way that it should work. Few redact the credit card information with an aim to get you the date of birth information, some secured only passwords and others concealed personal information that user enters for providing a better solution to the problem you are facing. Besides these, the length of your password and name is what is always revealed. These are constantly stored and observed at the back of a particular website we are using.
- Reasons for designers and developers to use “session replay”
• By tracking your activities they try to understand how you are interacting and dealing with their website.
• Through observing various user-experiences, they try to make changes on their website and modify to give users a better experience.
• They can boost their engagement to a great level.
Three researchers of Princeton computer science named Steven Englehardt, Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan have done research on this and mentioned that in spite of getting an option to hide user’s personal information, the scripts capture the details as it is. This means that the script will capture your details too. These tools are no doubt beneficial for companies because it gives access to user’s reaction and activities towards their website and makes suitable changes to their website for attracting more number of users and give them good user-experience. But they are a big threat to users.
This tracking is definitely not like any other general tracking system and hence should be taken seriously.
Session Replay has become a common practice for designers and developers because it allows them to modify their website according to user-experience and ultimately give every user a good experience. But it comes with the biggest drawback of tracking user's personal information also. We discussed many reasons for why these designing tools are a threat to user’s privacy and how it benefits designers. You can now better understand that why this practice is one of the critical threat to users' privacy.