Why I don’t display referrers

Thursday 19th January, 2006
Some sites display "today's referrers" to show where people who visit the site have come from. I don't do this for a couple of reasons, partly as it can be abused by people trying to draw attention to their site and secondly as it can invade on privacy.

A perfect example came in today, when I got the most public referrer I have ever seen - I've replaced some of the characters with # to preserve identity.

http://aunsw01.###.com.au/mail/i#####.nsf/($inbox)/4ab37ea36c0316acca2570f9007bd2e6/?opendocument

Clicking on this referrer open the authentication screen of his company's iNotes server directly. Not only that, I can see what company he came from and even his first initial and surname. Knowing how Domino addressing works, I could no doubt email i#######@######.com.au.

Funny how much information people give away without even trying...

  1. 1) Peter von Stöckel Said: (19/01/2006 12:19:03 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Very good point!

    This is a very good point! Most people know what the referrer is and why it is there, but I actually never considered that it goes for webmail too. It's a very good reason to copy links and pasting them into a new browser window/tab instead of clicking on them right in the mail.

    Thanks for reminding us!

  2. 2) Chris Linfoot Said: (19/01/2006 15:23:16 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Why I don’t display referrers

    I see web mail (both DWA and other web mail referrers like Yahoo!) in my referrer log all the time.

    Main reason I don't publish though is not to protect web mail users' privacy, it is because so many referrers are forged and would create links from my site to a variety of sites which I would normally not recommend. These are mainly to do with gambling and sex.

    Interestingly, there are never any Gmail referrers in the referrer log. Gmail has implemented a privacy feature to safeguard against this.

  3. 3) Chris Linfoot Said: (19/01/2006 17:18:54 GMT) Gravatar Image
    Why I don’t display referrers

    And... I frequently see referrers from people's intranets. While these rarely resolve externally, they do sometimes reveal information about the structure of or software behind said intranets...

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