Privacy and data protection are at the heart of everything we do. In our ongoing efforts to enhance the privacy of your website visitors while providing you with valuable insights, we’ve made an important update to our IP hashing mechanism in the latest version of WP Statistics (Version 14.4).
Why We Made This Change
In the digital age, safeguarding privacy is more crucial than ever. IP addresses, which can be used to identify individual devices and, by extension, their users, are sensitive pieces of information. Hashing IP addresses is a method we use to anonymize this data, ensuring that we can provide analytics without compromising visitor privacy.
However, as privacy standards evolve, so too must our methods. That’s why we’ve introduced a new feature: daily salt addition to our IP hashing mechanism. This change is designed to further enhance the privacy and security of the data WP Statistics collects.
How It Works
The concept of “salting” involves adding an extra piece of data to the information being hashed, in this case, IP addresses. By changing this salt daily, we ensure that the hash values are unique not only by visitor but also by day. This significantly increases privacy because it makes it virtually impossible to reverse-engineer the original IP address from the hash.
Here’s a simplified overview of the process:
- Daily Salt Generation: Each day, a new, unique “salt” is automatically generated. This salt is a random string of characters that adds an extra layer of complexity and uniqueness to the hashing process.
- Hashing Mechanism: When hashing an IP address, we now combine this daily salt with the IP address and the user agent of the visitor’s device. This combination is then hashed to produce a unique identifier.
- Enhanced Privacy: By resetting the salt daily and including the user agent in the hash, we ensure that the same visitor on the same day will have a consistent identifier, but this identifier changes every day to protect their long-term privacy.
Immediate Steps for Our Users
- For users not currently hashing IPs: If you are recording IP addresses without hashing, we strongly recommend enabling the “Hash IP Addresses” option. You can find this in the settings page, under the “User Data Protection” section. To hash all previously recorded IP addresses, navigate to Optimization -> Plugin Maintenance -> Convert IP Addresses to Hash.
- For users already using the hash option: If you want to apply this enhanced hashing method to your previously recorded data, you should rehash all previous hashes. This can be done by going to Optimization -> Plugin Maintenance -> Convert IP Addresses to Hash and running the process. This ensures that your historical data is also protected with the latest privacy enhancements.
Benefits for You and Your Visitors
This update brings several key benefits:
- Improved Privacy: By making it more challenging to reverse-engineer IP addresses, we’re enhancing the privacy of your website’s visitors.
- Compliance Support: This change helps your site better comply with global privacy regulations, which are increasingly strict about how personal data is handled.
- Data Integrity: While enhancing privacy, this update ensures you still receive accurate and valuable insights into your website traffic.
What You Need to Do
This update is part of our latest version of WP Statistics (Version 14.4). To benefit from this enhanced privacy feature, please make sure your WP Statistics plugin is updated to the latest version. There’s no additional configuration required on your part—the process is fully automated to ensure your data is handled with the utmost care and respect for privacy.
Commitment to Privacy
We believe that privacy is a fundamental right, and this update is just one of the ways we’re working to protect it. By continually improving WP Statistics, we aim to provide you with powerful insights in the most privacy-conscious way possible.
Thank you for trusting WP Statistics with your website analytics. We’re excited to continue offering features that respect your visitors’ privacy while giving you the tools you need to succeed online.
Related document: Counting Unique Visitors Without Cookies