Technology

How You Are Being Watched

Internet privacy has become a diminishing concept with each dawning day. We use the internet, not knowing whether our usage is completely safe. It could be that someone somewhere is watching you, even as you read this article. This begs the question: “is ‘Privacy’ no longer a term for the Internet?”

you are being watched

This Is What Happens:

You visit a website and tracking files record your online activities. Tracking companies use these records to build your profile based on your Internet search. These tracking companies then sell this information to advertisers.

Your data is also available on exchange networks where anyone can purchase your profile. Your personal profile can be linked to other sources of your personal data. All this is also sold to advertisers looking for consumers with your interests.

Advertisers buy ad space from websites at auctions where real time automated bidding starts as you search the web.

How You Are Tracked:

Pixel Trackers:

They are small 1×1 images that are placed on specific pages, so that site owners know when the specific page is loaded

Deep Packet Inspection:

They enable advanced network management, user service and security functions as well, along with Internet data mining, eavesdropping and Internet censorship.

Cookies and Supercookies:

cookies
Cookies are small pieces of data, sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser.

Supercookies are cookies that can recreate
user profiles, even after regular cookies have been deleted.

Types of Cookies:

  • Absolutely Necessary Cookies – required for a website to work
  • Functioning Cookies – social sharing and behavioral
  • Targeting Cookies – full user tracking

Device Fingerprinting – The Cookie (Less) Monster:

Information is collected from properties without depending on cookies from all your devices like PC, smartphone and tablets, to identify and track, even if the ‘Do Not Track‘ is enabled.

When a device is turned on, the following characteristics in the browser, make it unique:

Browser version; List of plugins (Flash, Java, etc.); What the browser talks to; List of installed apps; Screen dimension; and Clock.

Is It Legal?

Yes: This category falls under Supercookies, meaning they are outside the traditional restrictions on tracking cookies.

global security

How to Maintain Your Privacy:

  • Turn off Cookies and stick to the regular font stack;
  • Install plugins that block trackers. Examples include Ghostery, Disconnect and PeerBlock;
  • Disable Javascript and Flash and change your computer settings frequently;
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to add another layer to your Internet use;
  • Install a browser plugin that checks how many companies are tracking you every day. An example is Collusion (now known as Lightbeam)
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