Advances in technology have dramatically influenced our online experiences throughout the digital age. In a couple of clicks, we connect with others, shop and bank. Few would disagree that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
Maintaining privacy online is far from easy. We live in a data-centric society where user information is a profitable commodity, collected by any means possible.
Who is tracking you online? Everyone.
Online tracking takes place whenever you visit a website, press the “like” button, send an email, shop online or use your favorite app. Our browsing history, habits and likes are meticulously recorded, stored and repackaged by companies who provide insights into user preferences. Each individual has their own “profile” that helps marketing companies target them with tailored ads and content.
It’s not just the big tech giants who gather user data. Online tracking starts whenever you connect to the internet, and your ISP is one of the first entities to collect web traffic once engaged in various activities. In many cases, internet service providers (ISPs) sell collected user data to marketers, who use it to target individuals with advertisements.
Private or incognito browsing protects your online privacy. Myth or reality?
As you may already know, many browsers offer private or incognito browsing modes. Private browsing does not ensure complete anonymity when surfing the web. It may be a handy tool to use when checking your email from a public computer or hiding your browsing history from others who use the same device, but it’s no bulletproof solution for remaining private online. Incognito browsing does not prevent your ISP from tracking you and it doesn’t thwart the data collection process when you visit different webpages.
Although your browser may not store cookies, search history or downloads while private browsing is on, particular cookies used during the session may still communicate details about browsing patterns to third parties.
This data may include your IP address, information about the device you are using, browser configuration, and settings that make up a unique pattern that can identify a particular device. The process, known as device fingerprinting, analyzes hardware and software configurations to create a unique ID to identify individual devices when browsing incognito.
The pros and cons of online tracking have left room for debate among the digital community. On one hand, it provides a dynamic and efficient online experience for each individual based on their interests. On the other, security and privacy concerns must be taken into consideration. Many apps, websites and social media platforms are not fully transparent about data collection, and mishandled user records may end up in the wrong hands.
Protecting online privacy is a tedious undertaking. Start by checking if your personal information has been stolen or made public on the internet with Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection tool.