Do you know that companies can track your online activity and record your browsing history? There are many reasons why companies may choose to do this, and it is often to provide better experiences to you. However, there have been times when people worry about the kind of browsing data that these companies collect.
To record your browsing data, companies can track you using several ways. Some of them will insert a cookie into your web browser and use it to collect information while others use account tracking. This tracking does not pose any danger to you most of the time, but you have to know how it is done and the kind of data that they collect.
Read on to understand how online tracking works.
Tracking Using Cookies
Cookies are small pieces of data stored in your web browser to enable companies to follow your activity whenever you use the internet. Internet marketers use them to track their affiliate links and employers to track the activity of their employees. Various companies may also use them to find out the websites that you visit frequently.
A website will often prompt you to accept its policy with cookies before you proceed to use its services. If you do not wish to continue, you can deny the request, and that website will not track you. However, some of them may insert the cookie without warning, which means that you may never know when someone is tracking you.
Some of the reasons companies may want to track your browser activity using this method include the following:
- To collect information on the videos you watch
- To record the products that you buy or view most
- To determine the things that you search online
- To find out the people you interact with most of the time
How Cookies Work
Cookies store information about the website that you visit and the links that you click. If you have an account on that website, the information will be stored online. However, it is often kept in a cookie to your browser, and the website can always access this information whenever you are online.
Have you ever visited a website and found out that it remembers the last time you visited and the pages you visited? It is because they can access the information from the cookie that they inserted in your browser. For example, a news website will know if you have read news articles on their website in the past using this method.
It is the same thing that happens when you click on a website you visited several days ago and find out that they remember your name. They may even remind you about a few things that you did and suggest more actions. As long as the cookie is still active, the website will have access to this information.
Should You Be Worried About Cookies Recording Your Online Activity?
Although cookies record your online behavior and present the information to websites, they do not pose a security risk. They cannot expose you to malware, which is one of the biggest threats people face online. In addition to that, cookies are unlikely to collect your financial information when you make online transactions, and so, you do not have to worry about fraud.
However, people react to situations differently, and so, some will be offended to find out that someone is tracking their browsing behavior and keeping the information. If you are one such person, you need to know various ways to avoid being tracked using cookies. The best option is to disable them.
Most websites will give you an option to disable cookie tracking on their website. However, this option may also disable important features that will give you a bad browsing experience. Because of that, you may want to disable them from your browser if you want to get rid of them completely.
Online Tracking Using Accounts
Even when you disable cookie tracking, some websites will still track your browsing history using your online accounts. These websites require you to permit them to track your browsing behavior when you create an account. Sometimes, you may hurry to sign up that you do not even notice it when you give these permissions.
Once the websites have such permissions, they will collect information depending on what interests them. For instance, leading search engines and social media platforms will collect information to present to advertisers. The advertisers can then use the data to create targeted ads to display to you whenever you log in.
ISP Tracking of Online Activity
Your internet service provider (ISP) can always have access to your online activity. They are the ones keeping all your data, and therefore, you have little control over what they can do with it. Governments have used the ISP to monitor various situations, including combating crime.
When talking about ISP tracking, it is not a designated person sitting behind a computer and watching your activity. They use various systems to track, record, and store your information for several reasons. Usually, they sell the information to advertisers who also use it to create personalized ads for every user.
To stop internet service providers from accessing information, some organizations use anonymous browsing tools. For instance, the latest tools such as virtual private networks have become a must-have item for every organization that values its privacy. Such networks are also used by employees who work from home but have to log onto the organization’s network.
The bottom line is that ISP tracking is not bad if you are not using the internet for criminal activities. However, if you do not want them to collect your data, virtual private networks may be the perfect solution.
Get the Latest Tools to Stop Online Tracking
If you are not comfortable with cookies, accounts, or internet service providers tracking your online activity, you should get the latest tools to block them. You have to make sure that these tools are secure and easy to use. It would be best if you also got them from a trusted developer and vendor.
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