Analyzing mouse heatmaps of web users

OData support
Supervisor:
Dr. Gulyás Gábor György
Department of Networked Systems and Services

Abstract

Several different methods of tracking Internet browsers’ activities have become widespread. Having a web-based business profile, which operates with the help of some data-collecting mechanism is characteristic of a number of online companies. It would be vital to be able to avoid violating users’ personal rights during this process but, unfortunately, it is not always the case. Tracking methods developed previously, such as placing tracking cookies for instance, have proven to be disadvantageous as regards webusers’private sphere.

As it is possible to gain information about the characteristic behaviour of individual users by tracking their distinct activity on websites by the help of peripheral input devices attached to the computer, the focus of my thesis is on examining tracking methods of user-specific activities accomplished by the use of the mouse.

The primary purpose is to discover the implications of the area which is related to private sphere and by studying it to be able to decrease the unfavourable impacts on users. The bulk of my thesis deals with the analysis of user behaviour by taking several characteristics into account. I have attempted to give insight into and draw conclusions on to what extent users can be tracked and profiled.

Firstly, having studied secondary literature, I describe existing tracking methods. Secondly, I examine how specific attributes can be attached to individual users, in other words, whether it is possible to identify their behaviour by biometric methods or not. If user-specific characteristics can be observed, they can be differentiated from one another, thus they are identifiable and users’ preference profiles can be drawn.

Collecting data is an integral part of researching this area. After planning the experiment, a frame for creating a database has to be formed. It can be done by the use of program languages which are able to support the above mentioned activities. In the present case, Javascript and PHP have been used.

The details of the experiment are also involved, for which I have compiled a users’ manual. 25 different participants have been involved in the experiment. The evaluation of the acquired data is done by comparing visuals and values, among others, by the analysis of mouse heat maps. I am planning to apply numeric analysis in the course of future work.

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