Have you ever talked about a specific topic with a friend only to have a related advertisement pop up on your phone minutes later? What you may brush off as a mere coincidence, is anything but that.
This phenomenon is called internet tracking, and it’s something that’s been going on for some time now. If you own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or really any device that connects to the internet, you may be vulnerable to internet tracking. And while this may seem like a “Big Brother,” invasive tactic to gain access to your important information, internet tracking exists to help improve your internet experience.
For the most part, internet tracking is harmless. However, there is a very rare chance that cybercriminals can take advantage of this in order to compromise your information. Here, we’ll be letting you know all about internet tracking, along with a few tips on how to protect yourself and your information in the digital scape.
How does internet tracking work?
Internet tracking is exactly what it sounds like: the internet looks into your recent search history and other trends to curate and personalize your internet experience. While at a surface level, this leaves your personal and vulnerable information safe, that doesn’t mean that your information is completely secure from cybercriminals and hackers. In fact, your personal data can be shared with third parties in order to hack into personal accounts and gain access to your information.
Some of the most common ways users can be tracked online are through:
- Through IP addresses
- Cursor tracking software
- Cross-tracking (information from several different devices under one owner)
- Accounts that are visited frequently via devices
- Email exchanges and search history
With all of these possible holes in your internet protection, it’s essential to learn how to best protect you, your device and your information.
Tips to stop online tracking
For the most part, internet tracking is unavoidable. However, there are still ways to protect your personal information from cybercriminals, hackers, and other cyber threats that may come your way.
1. Adjust your privacy settings
On most internet browsers, there’s a way to adjust your privacy settings to fit your needs and comfort levels. However, the process for different devices may look a bit different:
- On mobile devices: Disable location services when they are unneeded and not in use
- On computers: Go into your internet browser and comb through the sites that may have permission to track you
- On smart TVs: Opt-out of apps and services that you may no want monitoring your activity
2. Set your devices to “do not track”
While this step is simple, it’s so easy to overlook when it comes to securing your device. In your browser settings, you can enable “do not track” to keep your information safe in the digital space. However, it’s essential to remember that this is just a request to websites, and may not be honored by certain sites and browsers.
3. Stay private when it comes to WiFi
In the day and age of working remotely, public WiFi is a total lifesaver. However, connecting to these public servers may make your chances of encountering hacking attacks and cybercriminals a bit higher. That’s why being cautious of public wifi can be a great decision when it comes to safeguarding your information. This can be achieved through using a VPN (virtual private network), which is a personalized, encrypted network that stays between you and your device.
Internet tracking is, no doubt, a great thing when it comes to curating your internet experience. However, like most things, you can never be too careful. To remember some key tips for staying safe online, just pore over the infographic below!
Please include attribution to us.norton.com with this graphic.