The use of mouse it is something we take for granted on any desktop or even laptop. Until now, there is no better method to navigate a computer screen than by moving the cursor using the classic mouse or the trackpad. And likewise, the use of mouse it can reveal a lot about user behavior.
Scientists from the University of Luxembourg have published a pair studies in which it is revealed that the movement of the mouse –and consequently, the cursor – allows you to obtain important and sensitive information about a person, such as their age or gender. Not only that, the researchers reveal that obtaining this data is generally very simple and that only five lines of code are needed.
Luis Leiva, one of the authors of the research, explains that recording the movements of the mouse on a website has never been very complicated. And that the really difficult thing was to make an interpretive analysis of that data, but that is no longer a problem because there are many tools that allow it.
But likewise, “this creates many privacy problems, since users do not have the option of not having their movements registered.”
“When you search for something on Google or Bing, the movements of the mouse they send a signal to the search engine that indicates the user’s interest in the content that is presented ”, according to Dr. Ioannis Aparakis, one of the authors of the research. And this is very useful for companies such as Google or Microsoft, since based on these movements they can know which part of a website is what makes a user continue visiting it or, on the contrary, leave it to never return.
Knowing this, the team of researchers developed a browser extension called MouseFaker, which allows hiding the movements of the mouse in real time, while recording enough data – two or three seconds of cursor movements – to keep this information useful for websites.
In the authors’ opinion, avoid recording the movement of the mouse It allows you to save bandwidth, make machine learning systems assimilate information in less time and, more importantly, respect the privacy of users.