Why is PayPal connecting to adnxs.com and paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net? - gHacks Tech News

Why is PayPal connecting to adnxs.com and paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net?

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 third-party connections

PayPal.com makes several connections to third-party servers:

  • akamaihd.net
  • secure.adnxs.com
  • paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net
  • www.youtube.com
  • s.ytimg.com
  • stats.g.doubleclick.net

Lets find out why those connections are made.

akamaihd.net

 

  • Domain name: akamaihd.net
  • Registrar:  Tucows, INC.
  • Registrant Organization: Akamai Technologies, inc.

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

 

  • Domain name: adnxs.com
  • Registrar:  MarkMonitor, INC.
  • Registrant Organization: AppNexus Inc

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.

According to the company's cookies information and platform policy page the following information may be tracked by its cookies:

  • Unique random identifier to distinguish devices and browsers.
  • The ads shown in the browser and interaction with ads.
  • The IP address.
  • The pages visited by the browser.

The service allows customers to match cookie data (cookie matching) with data collected by other services.

 

paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net

  • Domain name: cmtrdc.net
  • Registrar: CSC Corporate Domains, INC.
  • Registrant Organization: Adobe Systems Incorporated

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:

  • The referring url, the url that you visit and the time spent on them.
  • Searches performed on the company website and searches that led to the company website.
  • Browser and device information including browser, operating system, connection speed and display settings.
  • The device's IP address
  • Information you provide on company websites.
  • Ad clicks.
  • Purchases or items added to shopping carts.
  • Social network profile information.

www.youtube.com and s.ytimg.com

 

  • Domain name: youtube.com and ytimg.com
  • Registrar: MarkMonitor, Inc.
  • Registrant Organization: Google Inc.

 

Used to play videos from the video hosting site YouTube.

stats.g.doubleclick.net

 

  • Domain name: doubleclick.net
  • Registrar: MarkMonitor, Inc.
  • Registrant Organization: Google Inc.

 

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.

What happens if you block these third-party connections?

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.

Summary
Why is PayPal connecting to adnxs.com and paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net?
Article Name
Why is PayPal connecting to adnxs.com and paypal.d1.sc.omtrdc.net?
Description
PayPal connects to several third-party domains when you load the site in your browser of choice. Find out why those connections are made.
Author

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Comments

  1. Len Arnold said on May 25, 2015 at 12:18 pm
    Reply

    PayPal – We ‘Take’ Your Privacy, Seriously.

  2. Alex said on May 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm
    Reply

    For thinks like this Firefox Tracking Protection will be very useful for beginner users

  3. Ken Saunders said on May 25, 2015 at 4:43 pm
    Reply

    I’ve never used the network monitor.
    Thanks.

    A decent idea for an add-on (imo) would be an option to search for (basic) info about the sites listed in the network monitor. There’s already the ability to open the site or asset when you right click on it, so there’s a place to add the option.

    There’s a Firefox add-on (Prefsearch https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/prefsearch) that allows you to search for info on individual preferences in about:config, so perhaps it could function like that.

    Of course you wouldn’t get the detailed info on sites (like cookies, etc) that you did the leg-work on, but a simple search on the domain name would be sufficient in most cases.
    Example:
    stats.g.doubleclick.net
    “DoubleClick Ad Exchange is a real-time digital ad marketplace that connects publishers with agencies, ad networks and third-party technology providers”
    That’s enough info for me to keep it blocked.

    1. gh said on May 25, 2015 at 7:49 pm
      Reply

      These extensions (and a few others listed under “Privacy and Security” category at AMO) provide background info on third-party entities:

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/lightbeam

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/webutation-reputation-security

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/passiverecon

  4. Blue said on May 25, 2015 at 8:11 pm
    Reply

    I block these three:

    secure.adnxs.com
    s.ytimg.com
    stats.g.doubleclick.net

    …because they inject annoying 3rd party ads in the most awkward places. Everything else I have to allow otherwise the site doesn’t load properly. But that isn’t the biggest concern as most of us use AdBlockers so these items are hidden or blocked from our view. The biggest concern for this article should of been the fact opening a Paypal account now automatically adds their own issued internal credit card so much like a credit card if you have a remaining negative balance you incur charges on top of having the negative amount deducted from our accounts.

    Much like we get fee’s and account related charges to our credit card accounts, this new Paypal issued credit card of theirs is B.S, and the reason they are being sued.

    http://moneyandtech.com/may-21-news-update/

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 26, 2015 at 7:15 am
      Reply

      Yeah I read about that as well. This is US-only though or?

  5. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries said on May 26, 2015 at 12:44 am
    Reply

    The simplest solution is…don’t use PayPal.

    PayPal customer service doesn’t exist. It’s PayPal’s way or the highway, so I have chosen not to use PayPal unless I really want the item in question, and I have no other payment option. If I can obtain the item from a source that does not require PayPal, I’m willing to pay a little more just to avoid using it.

  6. PhoneyVirus said on May 26, 2015 at 3:46 am
    Reply

    I’m sick of getting basically Spam from Paypal in my inbox every week and after me unsubscribing from it 50% off this %20 off that if you use Paypal now no stop sending me these messages please right.

  7. jmjsquared said on May 26, 2015 at 4:31 am
    Reply

    Nice bit of detective work, Martin. Personally, despite the arrogance and non-existent customer service that @Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries correctly identifies, I really like PayPal and many of its services. Theirs are actually much easier and often better to use than my bank’s cards and have unique customer-loyalty features by which you can EARN (little bits of) money just by using them.

    With something like a buffer overflow or the malformed “handshake” mechanism exploited by HeartBleed in mind, is there any chance of these third parties “back tracking” and accessing personal information meant only for PayPal? Anyway, thanks for the heads up.

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