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How to prevent online tracking?

Have you ever used a website that requires login information? Or been online shopping and realized that advertisements are suspiciously familiar with what you’ve been browsing at? Have you saved your financial information on your browser when making a purchase online? Online tracking allows you to save these details, enjoy (or despise) targeted advertising, and capture your login details on your favorite browser. While online tracking may provide some beneficial features, tracking can also introduce unprecedented security concerns you might not be aware of.

What Is Online Tracking?

Online tracking is possible through the use of cookies - information stored by your web browser such as the websites you’ve visited and online form information. As a result, every device connected to the Internet is susceptible to online tracking. To some, cookies are helpful, but to others, it's an invasion of privacy.

Types of Online Tracking

There are two types of online tracking through cookies:

First-Party Cookies

These cookies are tracked by the site you visit. Cookies of this type allow your browsing experience to be more personalized and efficient. By saving information such as usernames, passwords and preferences, users can have their browsing activities tailored to their desire.

Third-Party Cookies

Cookies placed by websites and advertisements other than the one you are currently on are referred to as third-party cookies. These cookies are not used to enhance user experience, but to instead understand consumer habits, archive information for research purposes, or to sell information to other companies.Third party cookies have achieved a less than desirable reputation by users who would prefer to keep their browsing activities private.

What Is Online Tracking Used For?

Due to the rise in third-party cookies, more and more Internet users are being automatically tracked after they visit the site they gained the cookies from. Once the data from online tracking has been collected, it can be used for a number of things:

Targeted Advertising

Targeted advertising is very common among Internet users. Sometimes online ads seem to be too perfectly suited to something you were just browsing for, that is because the cookies from that website are being used to send similar ads to influence your buying patterns.

Sold and Stored

Databases, especially government databases use online tracking and cookies to monitor what you are doing online. These databases may not necessarily be used for anything now, but that invasion of privacy may be used against you in the future. Malicious Intent

Through the use of online tracking, hackers can collect small bits of information about a user and create a profile of whoever they target. This profile can then be used as a form as identity theft to guess usernames, passwords and in turn steal financial information.

How to Prevent Online Tracking

There are steps that can be taken to prevent unwanted online tracking and avoid the negative impact this can have on Internet users. Using a VPN or proxy, one can hide their IP address from potential threats associated with online tracking.

Iplocation.net offers information on how to hide your IP address using a VPN and compares different VPN services such as Hide My Ass and ExpressVPN. VPN services provide high-level encryption to protect your data from hackers and websites that would like to sell your browsing details. By concealing your IP address, VPNs can also eliminate tracking, protect your identity, login information and essential financial information allowing you to browse safely and anonymously.

Although not everyone is against online tracking and might welcome targeted advertising, it is important to understand that websites collecting and storing personal data may invade many aspects of your privacy. How would you feel if a stranger walked into your house, turned on your PC and started searching through all your personal photos, emails and browsing history, would you be comfortable with that? If not, you may consider hiding your IP address.

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