Following presents one of views from staff to describe PrivDog (http://privdog.com) product:
When you browse a web site, you are unwittingly inviting hundreds of files to come and run in your browser. Most of website contents come from website author but there also appear some contents which are not from website owner; and that’s where the problem comes.
These outside contents are problem in one or other way and fall into following four categories:
1. Trackers: There are number of companies which survive on simply selling user data, though anonymously, but still your behavior is aggregated and sold to interested parties. So even if you are visiting example.com and if website author has added any external contents like social widgets, analytics or advertisements from 3rd parties, those external parties are free to bring another n number of contents from 3rd parties they deal with without explicit knowledge of either website owner or user. So finally you have un-invited guests sitting in your computer without your approval and tracking you where you go and what you do on Internet. I am sure you don’t like it but have no choice.
2. Analytics: These are pieces of html code, which allow web site owner to primarily track as how many users from which all countries visited, from which referral pages they came, if any, and how long they stayed on a specific page. This is OK for website owner but all such service providers although provide this stats free but there is a catch, more websites place their analytic code on their sites, more knowledge they get about a given user as which all web sites he goes and thus they are able to profile users and then either sell that data or invite other advertising companies to learn from their user database so they can show them targeted ads. So publisher is getting some data from analytic companies but at the expense of your privacy.
3. Social Widgets: Most of websites these days add widgets, which allow visiting user to inform their respective portal friends about that given web site via various social media specific symbols. Although they seem harmless but mere presence of a social widget may allow that particular social media site to know that you visited that page. So a social widget helps respective social site to track you as well. This collected data through tracking can be used for showing targeted ads or even further widgets may invite their other partners to also track you by dropping their tracking specific html code.
4. Advertisements: This is something very visible and could be most annoying factor depending on how invasive advertising is on a given web page. While previously mentioned three attributes relate to privacy, this element relates to security as well. Typically when you download an executable in system and try to execute, base Operating system warns about the associated risks and on top of that installed antimalware product, if any, can scan the executable and warn if that’s malicious. Although web contents are also scanned by installed antimalware product but there is something called exploits (Exploit (computer security) - Wikipedia), which are increasingly the singles most infecting vector and are mostly active through websites. Every now and then you will find that there is critical update for flash player. So online advertising allows malvertising (Malvertising - Wikipedia) as criminals find it easy to submit malicious ad contents via ad networks and then reach out to huge number of people within very short time.
This means in-spite of having a secure operating system, secure browser and a robust anti-malware product, there are still possibilities that you may get infected due to exploits which could be present in the form of images / flash contents as are used in banner ads or ads taking you to malicious web site when you click on them.
So there are following primary problems associated with web browsing:
Threat to privacy
So what’s the solution?
The privacy issue can be solved if by single click you can opt-out of tracking from all advertising companies. There have been efforts in the direction of Do Not Track (Do Not Track - Wikipedia) but no consensus so far and looking at the squabble in advertising industry it is not going to happen in near future either.
The only way to achieve this is to simply block all 3rd party tracking elements (HTTP cookie - Wikipedia) present on a given page and also blocking any related calls as well while allowing web site itself to keep track of you for the purpose of better user experience if you visit again; as last thing you want to do is to stop publisher from providing better user experience.
Slow web browsing experience can be solved if we ensure that user system is getting only contents, which are relevant to him and provided by web site publisher himself rather coming from 3rd parties. Even though for certain tracking/social media gains publisher himself is putting 3rd party contents but the impact of that is there is lot more data getting downloaded for those gains and that results in slow browsing speed. So stopping web page from downloading unwanted material can help better browsing experience.
Security issue is related to Malvertising (Malvertising - Wikipedia), a simple solution to this problem could be to use one of many AdBlockers present in the market but whenever you use AdBlocker, it kills the open nature of Internet which comes from free contents and any free content provider need a source of revenue to keep its site afloat so that it can keep providing quality contents to you.
If you use ad blocker, publisher will stop getting revenue and net impact will be that publisher either will have to shut down site or will have to make user pay for the contents and in either situation users will be looser.
Considering there is no discipline in industry when it comes to validating ad contents, if we can ensure that compliant ads are provided through a trusted system, which can vouch for authenticity and malware free nature of those ads will help making web browsing safer, faster and secure and at the same time publisher will continue to earn revenue. Such a system will ensure that eco-system is intact, where user has more faith in Internet, publisher gets revenue and genuine advertisers see better returns of online advertising as user is not afraid of engaging with ads.
So Internet needs a solution, which protects your privacy, speeds up browsing speed and protects your security without at the expense of taking revenue stream from publisher and the solution is PrivDog (http://privdog.com).
PrivDog has following features:
It blocks all 3rd party tracking related calls
It blocks all social widgets which are not necessary and simply end up in slow page loading and you getting tracked without any apparent benefits.
It blocks all 3rd party analytics related calls.
It ensures that 3rd party ads on a given page are blocked and trusted ads are served from a system where ads are thoroughly validated and are malware free before they are delivered to end users. Validating ads for security and compliance ensures that malvertising can be stopped; it also ensures that exploits do not become vehicle for malvertising.
With PrivDog, Internet gets a win-win solution, where publisher, advertiser and users all are happy and eco-system is maintained, which otherwise can be destroyed due to use of AdBlocker.