Online Tracking and How to Prevent It

Online tracking involves techniques which include monitoring what you are doing online. In this digital era, online tracking is a threat to your internet privacy and even your online security. You should at all costs ensure that you are not being tracked.

Who can track you?

There are several entities interested in what you do online. The most common ones include governments, ISPs, search engines, third-party websites, and even individuals; including cybercriminals.

  • Governments – Government institutions are always doing surveillance. They constantly monitor what citizens do online. While this might be helpful in gathering intel, sometimes it can be used to oppress some people.
  • Internet Service ProvidersYour ISP sees everything you do on the internet. Through monitoring, they can track and even deduce your internet patterns and behaviour. What they choose to do with this info is up to them.
  • Search Engines – Search engines almost contain all the info that you have queried. Some of this info may be personal and in the wrong hands can be used to blackmail
  • Websites – Every time you visit a website, you leave behind your IP address which can be used to track you. Corporate websites are also interested in your digital footprints.
  • Individuals including cybercriminals – When you are connected to a certain network, e., via public WIFI, an individual can monitor and log what you are doing online. Cybercriminals can even spy or dox you.

How Online Tracking is done

The entities mentioned above achieve online tracking by using the following;

  • IP address – Every device that connects to the internet is assigned a unique identification number known as the IP address. This number pinpoints the exact location of the device and can be used to provide other information.
  • CookiesCookies are files stored by your web browser when you visit a certain. These files help deliver a tailored browsing experience. But in the recent past, cookies have found another function, that is – they can be used to track users even after leaving the website.
  • Browsing history – Your ISP automatically logs your browsing history via your IP address and hence can track your online behaviour. Cookies and other apps can also record your browsing history and use it for tracking.
  • Location Services – Apart from your IP address, your devices can also track you since they have location services such as GPS. If this info falls in the wrong hands, your privacy will be violated.

Dangers of Online Tracking

Many risks can arise from online tracking. The basic ones include;

  • Targeted AdvertisingAds can be annoying and sometimes intrusive. Advertisers use your online behaviour to bombard you with adverts of a certain
  • Government oppression – Via online tracking, governments can silence you if you go against it. It can even influence your business to perform poorly and also impose other harmful effects.
  • Doxing, Blackmailing, Identity, and Financial Theft – Cybercriminals can easily create your profile via online tracking and use it to impersonate you. This can give them access to more information, g. financial information. They can also blackmail you, dox you and even perform other complicated attacks.

Preventing Online Tracking

Below are ways you can use to prevent being tracked while you are online;

  • Using a VPN – A VPN encrypts all your online traffic, and this ensures you security is intact. It also assigns you a virtual IP address, and this ensures you avoid being tracked by even your ISP.
  • Changing Cookie Settings – Since cookies can be used to track you online, in your browser settings, set them to expire when you exit the browser. Also, disallow your browser from accepting third-party
  • Disable location services – Some apps use your location services to track you. When you are not using location-based apps, turn off location services. Also, inspect which apps are allowed to access your location.
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