How Do Websites Track You & How You Can Stop It
Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of how the information is gathered and how to mitigate these risks.
14:01 20 October 2021
Privacy continues to be a primary focus for most internet users, especially when it pertains to browsing activities and histories being tracked. The ability to monitor and interpret our online usage is a pressing concern. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of how the information is gathered and how to mitigate these risks.
Websites will track your activity with Cookies
Cookies store user settings of a website user locally within a browser. Some of these settings are harmless user preferences (keeping your time zone, for example), designed to make your online experience easier overall. Unfortunately, what started as an innocent process has turned into a more deceitful purpose, typically related to marketing.
How do advertisers track your web usage?
As a general rule, an advertiser will use the websites you visit or the activity on those sites to target your browsing experience. The longer your tracking session, the more relevant the content is showing online. This tracking can occur on search engines or independent websites. Many industry specialists have voiced concerns over cookies invading privacy, which prompted the approval of cookies when visiting a site. This decision aims at giving users control over their browsing information, including what’s shared with their data. Turning off the cookies for a website won’t keep advertising away; it will simply remove the customization when you see an ad. For example, you won’t see a pair of Nike’s newest shoes in the ads after viewing several shoe stores the evening before.
If you’re trying to prevent tracking through cookies, always decline the cookie option on a website and regularly delete the cookies from your browser. Make sure you do this for both your pc and mobile devices.
The cache improves the loading speed, keeps you logged in to membership platforms (like Facebook), and remembers your online shopping cart. If a user is browsing a sugar baby website, it will save all the website content in a secret folder on your device –even if they use a VPN or anonymous browser.
To keep your information safe online, regularly delete the cache on your browser under the settings. You’ll want to delete the browsing history, cached images and files, cookies, and any downloads on fill.
Browsers establish a fingerprinting system
Considered the most popular method of tracking right now, fingerprinting works to build a profile of your information that’s almost impossible to block. The premise is that every computer is configured in its unique way. Tracking can establish your hardware, installed font, IP address, versions of your browser plugins, operating system, and the browser (and version) you currently use. This unique dataset is available to most sites you visit, regardless of cookie settings.
Independently, each of these factors doesn’t give away any identifying information (even your IP address doesn’t disclose much). Created as a profile, however, your dataset becomes one in seven million. That’s a big jump in the information distribution channel. Although users can turn off specific features within the browser, it doesn’t prevent a lot of the fingerprinting.
How does a platform circumvent the browser settings?
How to limit my exposure while browsing
The VPN has been known to limit the amount of information shared with websites, mainly thanks to the ability to hide your IP address. Although this is only one piece of your fingerprint, it’s ultimately better than nothing online. You’ll always want to opt for an encrypted connection whenever possible.
If you’re looking for a simplified solution without changing your browser, scroll through any installed extensions and determine whether you genuinely need them. Remember, the higher the number of extensions on your browser, the more unique your fingerprinting profile is going to be. Continually update your extensions whenever possible and delete any you no longer use.
When it comes to your online surfing, look for a browser that offers online anonymity. Many platforms provide fingerprint blocking with their service, which will prevent websites from creating a profile online. These aren’t foolproof but provide superior protection to Firefox or Chrome. If you’re willing to deal with slower browsing speeds, the Tor browser offers an entirely anonymous experience for users wanting to safeguard their information online. The Tor browser (also known as the Onion) erases your identity bypassing your connection through three different servers globally. As your connection jumps from server to server, it encrypts your information, making it virtually untraceable by the third connection. Unfamiliar users are often surprised to find their favorite websites in a different language, but the server says you’re located in a different country an adjusts automatically. Unfortunately, this level of security often comes with significantly reduced browsing speeds (although you could potentially watch YouTube videos). It’s the ultimate sacrifice for someone wanting top security from their browser.