Dark web tags harm website performance and put data at risk


Website tags, small pieces of JavaScript code or small images, are often used to collect information about users. But they can add to load times and if misused can be a security risk too.

A new study from digital governance specialist Crownpeak reveals over 1,700 'dark web' tags found on websites belonging to companies in the Fortune 100, causing a total average website latency of 5.2 seconds.


Crownpeak categorised tags into 'first-party tags' -- added directly to the source code of a web page, and 'dark web tags' -- injected by first-party tags either intentionally or unintentionally. The 20 worst performing websites had a total of 734 dark web tags operating, twice as many as the average website and a worrying 7.5 times more than the 18 best performing Fortune 100 websites.

Among the poorest performing sites, each first-party tag added an average of 3.4 dark web tags compared to the best performing sites, which added an average of 1.2. This highlights how difficult it is to control the spread of dark web tags.

Darren Guarnaccia, chief strategy and product officer at Crownpeak says:

Looking at previous research conducted by Evidon (now part of Crownpeak), 55 percent of businesses feared they had suffered some form of data leakage via third party code running on their site. With the recent influx of data privacy regulations across the globe and with privacy the hot topic for 2019, this new research highlights the crucial need for greater tag management within the industry.

Businesses need to ensure they have intelligent systems in place to assist them in gaining a holistic view of the tags that are operating on their website and allow the control of such tags. Not only will this help avoid data breaches that leave companies exposed to potentially huge fines of €20 million or four percent of worldwide annual turnover -- whichever is greater -- under the GDPR, but it will also improve website latency, enhancing the user experience.

The information was gathered using Crownpeak's TagControl platform. This is a browser-based solution that provides in-depth insights on vendors operating on sites due to redirects. The system allows businesses to block or whitelist vendors or tags to ensure that only approved partners are able to collect and process customer data.

Photo Credit: JMiks/Shutterstock

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