Browsers are widely used to surf the Internet. In normal mode, browsers track users’ web activity and relevant data, including browsing history, cookies, auto-fill, temporary files, and so on. Most of you are clear about that. But you don’t think you will be a target of hackers and cybercriminals.
How do you get tracked while surfing the Internet?
What happens when you visit a website?
Generally, you will do the following thing when browsing the website:
- Open a browser and enter the URL to visit a website. And this is secretly saved in the history by your browser.
- At the same time, you send a request to the website you want to visit. Your request that goes from your home network passes through the Internet service provider’s backbone network to the website. This website can see that the request comes from your IP address.
- If the website approves your request, it will send data back to you. At this time, most of the content on the web page is temporarily stored in a temporary file on your computer.
- When you sign up / in, your credentials will be stored / updated on the server. Cookies are saved locally to authenticate the user and avoid repeated logins. Of course, the phone number, e-mail address and home address entered during registration will also be recorded by the browser to facilitate the next login.
As you can see, three types of data are generally stored on the user’s computer throughout the process: browsing history, temporary files and cookies, and information entered in forms. The website stores one or two types of data: IP addresses and registration information.
Most websites now prefer users to log up with mobile phones that can reveal the actual names of users. Then it would be more convenient for the websites to learn more about users.
How do websites track users?
Using cookies is the simplest and most common way.
As mentioned in the previous sections, cookies are used to store the identity of the user and avoid repeated logins. Obviously, this indicates that cookies have a “memorability” feature. In general, it’s difficult for websites to see which pages you’ve visited by your IP address. They rely on a short and encrypted plaintext stored on the user’s computer to track the user’s web activity. They track user activity to provide better services. For example, recommendations on Amazon’s homepages are made and improved by collecting cookies.
When advertisers collect information about which pages you visit most often, when you visit a website, how long you stayed there, etc., they can create a list of your personal information which even includes your income. Finally, they can customize their ads. That’s what companies like Google are doing now.
In addition, cookies are exclusive. That is to say, only the website that creates cookies can use them. It can only put its own cookies and read them as needed, and no other website can read them. All of these are controlled by the browser.
However, there are cookies that can be used on other websites where these cookies are not created. They are third-party cookies. Most websites use third-party cookies to verify the identity of the users. If the website you visit uses third-party cookies, your information will be collected by third parties. It can also sell user data by placing a third-party cookie. For example, advertisers place a transparent image on the most popular websites. Users do not see this image, but it loads when the user visits these pages. In this way, advertisers can track users’ web activity by placing third-party cookies in this image.
Does private browsing mode protect your privacy while surfing the Internet?
When people want to visit porn sites or torrent sites, they run the risk of being affected by viruses or malicious programs. Although their personal information may be compromised, they still want to access the content of those sites. As a result, many people choose to visit these websites in private browsing mode. In addition to the normal browsing mode, almost all modern browsers have a private browsing mode. Although the name may vary, users can open a new private window in most popular browsers. And the purpose of private mode in each browser is similar. It is generally assumed that you are not being tracked online while you are browsing privately.
But this is not the truth. We have a big misunderstanding of private browsing mode. It only protects what you do online from other people on your local device. Private browsing does not ensure you completely anonymous online. Your online activities can still be accessed by your ISP, employer or school, and the website you visit.
How do you protect your privacy in the age of the Internet? You can use the following methods to protect your privacy:
- Download and install software from official channels. Do not trust apps from unknown sources.
- Avoid public WiFi.
- Scan and remove malware regularly.
- Use strong and different passwords for important accounts.
- Build good habits while browsing the website. For example, always log out of your account.
- Last but not least, get RitaVPN to protect your privacy online.