This week’s router configuration and denial of service troubles at Microsoft lend to an interesting discover at work. Employees started calling, complaining about a LONG delay whenever they started Internet Explorer. A quick look at the proxy server logs showed that, at startup, IE attempts to download a 1-pixel transparent GIF image (hence the delay during the outage) – a questionable practice used by some other sites to track visitors without their knowledge. It would be one thing if Microsoft did this when you visited their site, but quite another when it happens simply by running IE! This technique would enable Microsoft to gather statistics on the browser version, operating system, etc. of ALL IE users!

Posted on January 26, 2001
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