Have you purchased an item from a manufacturer, coincidentally experiencing frequent ads from the same during future (perhaps unrelated) searches? Furthermore, have you, while using Google’s Gmail or other provider’s email service, noticed ads resembling keywords in the text of written emails?
Your computer may be relinquishing your behavior, allowing advertisers and service providers to track your online whereabouts. Furthermore, unless you’re experienced with regulations and opt-out pages, it could be happening against your preference or under your awareness.
While a trove of digitally related resources and tools exist, it’s up to the consumer to ensure preferences are adhered and information kept private.
Search engines, such as Google’s, are services provided by businesses. Unlike your local library, Google’s results are commercial-based, with Google gaining most of its revenue from associated advertising.
How often, when, where, and what are all questions asked by advertisers. Since search engines lead to destined web pages, advertisers are very curious about the engine’s information. Understand your search engine may be tracking and subsequently sharing your information; perhaps your lack of awareness assumes obedience on your part, but one may change the preferences on their computer – ensuring
– Third-party cookies are disabled
– All third-party sites are blocked from storing information
– You’re using a secure and trusted VPN (if one at all)
– Your computer’s downloads and updates are screened by a firewall
DuckDuckGo, alternatively to Google, does not store a user’s search information, while the world’s preference for the former is years standing.
In addition to leveraged search engine, ensure you’re using regulated services for downloaded materials like check this post on the Vuze blog. Online piracy runs rampant as more lawsuits are lost by unsuspecting providers and downloaders.
A number of extensions (free and paid) exist to help keep your information secure and guarded from third-party snoopers.
1) LastPass – This tool stores all of your passwords in one place, encrypting the data, so even if hackers get to Facebook, for example, it would be difficult or next-to-impossible to associate your connection with your private information. Also, it makes having scores of passwords (an increasing demand) easy, needing only to remember one password.
2) Do Not Track Me – This facilitates the inability of third parties from tracking what sites you visit, how long, etc. Some awkward functionality may coexist with popular sites such as Facebook.
3) HTTPS Everywhere – This gives sites that have the ability to encrypt your computer’s information a nudge in the right direction, encrypting your data. It’s one of the major anxieties of those leveraging free Wi-Fi connections; ensure you trust in the third party and the logged on provider is who they say (Hackers may emulate a popular café’s Wi-Fi name to attract unsuspecting consumers.)
Check your local listings for an IT specialist or computer provider. For a small or ongoing fee, they may help you monitor your computer, maintain security firewalls, and exact your personalization preferences. While some subscribe to, “If you’re doing nothing wrong, there’s nothing to worry about,” a number of consumers grow annoyed at aggressive retargeting or any third-party observation based on principle.
Therefore, an IT service provider could help illuminate your options in addition to other sources of online literature.
Richard Miller is obsessed with internet safety. He often writes about software and strategies for keeping personal information and virtual property safe on web security blogs.