Back in 2010 I noticed that PayPal was loading content from paypal.112.2o7.net during connection to the site which was worrying at that time as there was no indication why a secure site would do this.
Most financial sites, online banks for instance, take security and privacy of their customers serious by loading contents only from company-owned domains.
The connection that PayPal makes to 2o7.net turned out to be to servers operated by a company called Omniture which was acquired by Adobe Systems in 2009. Omniture, an online marketing and web analytics business, was later integrated into Adobe Marketing Cloud.
If you connect to PayPal.com today, you will notice additional third-party requests that the site makes. One of the easier ways to verify this is to use network monitors that are integrated into the developer tools of most browsers.
In Firefox and Google Chrome, hit f12, switch to network and load the PayPal website afterwards.
PayPal.com makes several connections to third-party servers:
Lets find out why those connections are made.
Akamai Technologies is a US-based company that is probably best known for its content delivery network (CDN). It is a cloud services provider that operates one of the world's latest distributed computing platforms.
Secure.adnxs.com and adnxs.com are run by AppNexus, an Internet advertising company that offers a variety of services including an advertisement exchange, data aggregation and ad server.
It is not entirely clear which AppNexus services PayPal uses. A "sess" cookie is stored on the user system which acts as a test cookie to find out whether cookies can be placed on user systems.
The service allows customers to match cookie data (cookie matching) with data collected by other services.
Adobe collections information with its analytics and on-site personalization service (the tech which came from the Omniture business).
Adobe notes on the company's analytics privacy page:
If you look at your cookie settings in your browser, you may notice cookies from 2o7.net and omtrdc.net domains. These are the cookies Adobe uses to collect the information described above. Most Internet browsers classify these as "third-party" cookies because they are not set by the website you are visiting. Companies using our services have the choice of using these Adobe cookies or using their own cookies (often called "first-party" cookies).
The same page reveals the type of information that Adobe's analytics service collects:
www.youtube.com and s.ytimg.com
Used to play videos from the video hosting site YouTube.
This is not loaded all the time it seems. Doubleclick is operated by Google and this particular connection powers a specific version of Google Analytics with Display Advertising.
The core difference between it and the regular Google Analytics script is that it supports display advertising and remarketing tracking out of the box.
The code itself behaves similar to Google Analytics code.
If you block all third-party requests when connecting to Paypal.com (using uMatrix for instance), you can still use the service as before.
Since all third-party connections are not powering core functionality but only analytics, ads, content distribution and videos, it is safe to block these connections to improve privacy and speed up the connection to the PayPal website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.