While the last two are a little bit of exaggeration (though not impossible!) this is the very basic information any web site can collect about you.
We all know about internet marketers and their utilities to gather statistics about you for marketing purposes without your consent. Almost all of us have been targets to such attacks at least once while surfing the net.
Probably you think these folks are using advanced programming techniques therefore you are careful when you are following links, always making sure they are not ending with unkown file types. This is where you are wrong.
These ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES usually differ from browser to browser, server to server and the type of connection made. But every time you connect to internet, start your browser and go to a web site, these variables travel transparently between your computer and the web site server. Take a look at some other information transmitted when a connection has been made.
Additionally, a server can insert a "cookie" into your browser. A cookie is a tracer which can contain any information the server wants to give you -- names of the pages you typed, what you typed into the pages, etc. Then a server can ask for all of this information, and can automatically compile a dossier of your interests while you are reading the pages.
Usually the sites you visit do not collect information about you other than statistical purposes.
As you will notice, the username you typed in wil be effectively logged (of course lots of other information will be logged too, but they are not necessary to demonstrate now). This method is similiar to cookies but again it just uses environment variables. Alternately, we might ask you to enter your own user name and password. Since most of the time users type in the same username password as their login to their ISP, we might write a perl script that will collect your user name and password and the other environment variables (most notably REMOTE_HOST), telnet in to that address of your Internet Service Provider and try to log in to your account while you are happily viewing the pages. Hopefully you will be more careful next time when you are asked for a username and password. Since it is illegal for us to try to break into your account, we cannot demonstrate it here but if you contact us and allow us to do that, we will demonstrate that for you.
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