Mac problems solved
When filling out details for a home insurance quotation on my MacBook Pro, I entered my landline number and straight away the insurer phoned me, even before I submitted the form. Was my security compromised? I have a firewall but no virus protection. I’m rather worried. Chris Mace Are you sure it couldn’t have been coincidence? Did they say anything on the phone to imply that they were watching you on the website? It is theoretically possible for a web page to trap the system events that are triggered each time you press a key, and use that to grab your input before you even submit the form. This would be highly unethical, maybe even illegal (although I’m certainly no lawyer). However, it’s possible that the company already had your phone number from a previous quotation or even from another site that is owned by the same parent company. The website can identify you using a cookie left on your computer on your previous visit, tying the details you entered that time to you on your return. That’s likely legal because the small print for which you ticked ‘I agree’ to, probably advises that they may do this.
Whether or not this website has broken the rules though, this is a question of business ethics, not computer security. We can be confident that this isn’t a virus or a hack, because the website doesn’t need to do either of these things to pull this trick off. It’s more akin to a site that lets you tick the box marked ‘don’t spam me’ and then sends some anyway. If you’re still concerned, you could take this up with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ico.org.uk).
Cookies let companies track you between website visits, so they can remember your personal details.