Your web browser may be a window to the online world, but did you know it can also open the door for snoops to spy on your every move? Some of these snoops are harmful hackers, while others are just marketers that want to sell you products.
Either way, you probably don't want people knowing every page you've visited, keyword you've searched for, or comment you've posted online. There are things you can do stop Google and other sites from following your every move.
Before we get started:
Follow these step-by-step instructions, it's important that you understand the two primary reasons your activity is tracked online.
The first reason involves cybercriminals who don't have your best interest in mind. These crooks aim to install malware on your personal computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet so they can collect your private information.
The malware used by these culprits is designed to hide on your device and monitor your activity quietly behind the scenes. If you take a moment to think of everything you type, all of the websites you visit and apps you use daily, it should give you an idea of the type of data effective malware can collect on you.
Your name, date of birth, email address, private residence, social security number, bank account information and all of your passwords can be stolen without you even knowing it. The crooks can then use this data to target you for phone and mail scams, or they can even steal your identity. And, if they get their hands on the right kind of information, they can even use your contact list to begin targeting your family and friends.
But here's the good news: Preventing this type of tracking is easier than you think. First, use caution whenever you're connected to the internet. Don't click links from unknown sources, or download programs or apps without evaluating them for safety. Next, test your device to see if it already has a virus. Click here for five signs your computer or tablet has malware on it.
The last step is all about prevention. No matter what, you need to have a strong anti-virus software installed on your computer, smartphone and tablet. And, just because you've installed a free anti-virus software on your computer doesn't necessarily mean you're protected. If you need to update to a program that offers more protection, click here and we'll walk you through the process of making the switch.
The second reason people are interested in your online activity isn't as harmful as the first. However, that doesn't necessarily make it feel any less invasive. Companies use what's called "behavioral tracking" so they can present ads to you that are more relevant to your interests. Some companies even use this data to design better products and services.
On the surface, that sounds just fine. Why wouldn't you want services that seem tailor-made just for you? And why waste time dodging ads that have nothing to do with your interests?
Behavioral tracking as a concept makes a lot of sense. But as an individual, it still feels pretty creepy when your computer knows more about you than you think it should.
It's probably happened to you before. After shopping online and clicking on a few items, you suddenly start to notice ads for those items on every website you visit.
That's behavioral tracking in action. Keep reading if you'd like to learn how to stop it.