Being tracked when web browsing is a common hazard
Minimize tracking of your browser activity by going incognito or installing a blocking extension.
Websites and the companies that provide them may track everything you do online. They collect information about your location, browsing habits and more. They utilize the capabilities offered by your browser to compile and share this personal information for future use and, most likely, targeted ads. It’s called “browser fingerprinting”. “At least 87 percent of the world’s most-popular Web domains engage in some form of digital tracking without you ever signing in, according to investigative journalism nonprofit the Markup.”
Browsers differ in their standard (default) support for this activity. As reported in the Washington Post, Google’s browser, Chrome, is highly tolerant of third-party “tracking cookies” by default, while Firefox and Safari (on iPhone or Mac), offer more privacy out-of-the-box.
To minimize this concern (if you are concerned at all), there are a few remedies:
● Switch to DuckDuckGo (www.duckduckgo.com ) for web searches, as it will only show ads related to your specific search and not collect your personal data.
● Major browsers, such as Chrome
Chrome on Windows: clicking on the menu icon ( ) and then “New Incognito Window” establishes a private browsing tab.
Safari on the Mac offers privacy settings under Safari → Preferences and on the iPhone under Settings → Safari.
● If you don’t want to switch browsers (e.g. Firefox on Windows or Safari on iPhone or Mac), here are three additional, alternate remedies:
- Install the free browser extension Ghostery (www.ghostery.com ), that blocks the ad trackers and lists them by category or
- Install the browser extension uBlock Origin, available at https://www.ublock.com. It blocks ads and the data they collect. Combine uBlock Origin with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Privacy Badger, available at https://www.eff.org/privacybadger, to reduce tracking ads in addition.
- If you have an iPhone or a Mac, you can download Lockdown (www.lockdownhq.com ) which, per Forbes magazine, establishes a firewall to thwart trackers.
- Blacklight is a free online tool from the Markup that lets you scan websites for their privacy practices.
FOR FURTHER READING:
CyberGuardian: a SecureTheVillage Guide for Residents is available on Amazon.
A complete Security Checklist is available: https://www.nerdsiview.com/security-checklist-2/
References for Village Residents are available at SECURE THE VILLAGE: https://securethevillage.org/residents
DuckDuckgo, Consumer Reports, October 2019.