Anytime you browse the internet, make an online purchase, sign up for a service, or simply read a news article, you can bet that the information is being recorded.  There is a multi-billion dollar industry at work picking up the digital crumbs you leave behind on the web when you browse your favorite sites.  Their intents are multi-faceted, sometimes using that info to better target you with advertisements.  The information you leave behind could also be used for more nefarious intents, such as keeping track of your location or where you might be going.

It's important to safeguard your data and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.  Thankfully, there are tools available to help keep your data private and will help prevent would-be trackers from following your online presence.

How Do Companies Track You

Companies employ a slew of methods to track your online habits.  One of the most effective ways of doing this is through bits of data your computer automatically shares with each site you visit called a 'cookie'.  Whenever you visit a website, your computer interacts with 3rd-party cookies.  Companies are interested in more than just bits of data though: they are trying to build a complete online profile of you.  Whenever you visit a website, make an online purchase or click a certain advertisement, your computer downloads a cookie from those sites and, in turn, your computer provides this shared information with those sites.

Through the use of these 3rd-party cookies, companies are better able to target advertisements for you, but they can also be used for other things like tracking locations, buying habits, and more.  It is not always evident to the average user as to whether or not they are being tracked either, so we have some helpful tips for you to regulate tracking.

Methods of Preventing Online Tracking

Luckily, there's a variety of tools out there for you to use that can help prevent these 3rd-party cookies from tracking your information.

  1. Use an Ad Blocker - Ad Blockers are free to use and create a much cleaner, less crowded web experience.  Ad Blockers such as UBlock, AdBlock Pro, and AdBlock Plus are all free to use, and automatically prevent third-party cookies from getting onto your computer.  They also block out most pop-up and web page ads.  More sites, however, are detecting if Ad Blocking programs are installed and will sometimes prevent access unless they are disabled.
  2. Update Your Cookie Settings - You can adjust the way your computer interacts with cookies and websites.  Your web browser, such as Chrome, can set cookies to expire after a certain amount of time has passed, and you can completely prevent the third party cookies from being accepted under your browser's settings page.  In Chrome's settings menu under Privacy, then under the Content Settings option, you can choose to keep local data only until you quit your session.  This will remove all third party cookies after you close your browser.
  3. Turn off Referers - Referers are normally sent with every http request and can give out a lot of potential information about you.  This can be turned off with the use of an extension called 'Referer Control'.  After installing this extension to your browser, open it up in settings and select to block default referers for all other sites.
  4. Use HTTPS Everywhere - Another very helpful add-on for your browser is called HTTPS Everywhere.  This browser extension enabled secured web browsing to as many sites you visit as possible.  This prevents any third parties from being able to snoop on your online conversations or activities.

Using the above methods and add-ons will help keep your online data safe.  If you want to learn more about securing your data, and much more contact us today.