We all love spooky season — fall leaves, candy, and our favorite scary movies. Watching a monster follow someone may be thrilling on a tv screen, but it is much more frightening behind a computer screen. Has something you plan to buy ever suddenly shown up in your social media feed? Or have you discussed something and an article about that topic appears? Are you paranoid, is your phone listening, or is someone following you around the Internet?
Am I Being Followed on the Internet?
Basically, the answer is yes, you are being tracked. However, it’s (mostly) not maliciously. Yes, some folks are looking for personal information including unique identifiers like your social security number. Hackers want to get your financial information, credit cards, money-transferring apps, or medical data.
The other group which tracks your online movement is far less threatening. Often, websites or apps you already use want to better understand your web surfing and online purchasing habits. In a world of almost unlimited purchase options, your data helps companies identify the perfect customer and serve personalized ads. They use this information to entice you to purchase their goods and services. Also, seeing how users interact with their website or app provides them with information to help improve their product.
How are They Following Me?
There are a number of ways that various actors follow you as you use your Internet connected devices. Here are common ways users can be tracked.
- IP addresses — Each Internet connected device is connected to an IP address and they are required to use a website, so it may be easy for it to remember you.
- Cursor tracking software — Knowing where you click and what you ultimately look for on a website helps them learn what you are interested in and how they could serve it to you in an enticing way in the future.
- Cookies — These are small pieces of data that are shared between your computer and a website to make your browsing a faster and more personalized experience. Learn more about cookies from our friends at FSA consulting.
- Cross-device tracking — Connecting how you browse and utilize the Internet across devices, which means they may be able to track you regardless of your personal phone or work computer.
How Do I Get Them Off My Trail?
Settings to Change:
- Most browsers and smartphones allow you to change your privacy settings to a level you are comfortable with.
- Check the “Do Not Track” option. Many browsers have this option. However, it is not ironclad, but is a request, so not all websites and browsers may follow this request.
Things to Do:
- When you first land on a website a popup usually asks if you consent to cookies. You should decline. Often you cannot opt out of all cookies for a site, but eliminating all but the necessary cookies will keep your data safer.
- Several types of tracker-blocking plug-ins help protect your information from website and browser tracking. And once you set this up, you don’t need to think of it again.
As your local Internet Service Provider, Green Light Wireless is committed to keeping your data safe. Learn how Green Light Internet can give you peace of mind.