Trackers: Cunning ways companies track you online & how to fend them

Trackers – How companies Track you online

Trackers: Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t live a glamorous lifestyle. Even though we’ve never been in the limelight, our lifestyle is of great worth. Believe or not, people are actually interested to know what you like, dislike, your demographic so on and so forth.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Allow me to explain.

Have you ever seen an advertisement that just seems to follow you everywhere? No matter what site you visit, you’ll see advertisements related to that one product you searched the day earlier. Even though you never asked to see those ads, companies still shove it in your face.

This approach is called Retargeting. Showing certain ads from device to device over and over again in an attempt to lure a customer into purchasing the advertised product.

According to an independent Research by Ghostery, 77.4% of all page loads contain trackers. These results were compiled after analyzing over 144 million page loads.

These statistics are quite alarming indeed.

In this blog, I’m going to tell you 3 shocking ways giant corporations are making money off of you. I’m also going to tell you some sure-fire tips to avoid being tracked online.

Watch out! You’re being watched

Your data is like a Holy Grail for giant corporations and data miners alike. The ability to monitor your online behavior regardless of your device is a god sent for companies looking to sell you their products.

With powerful tracking mechanisms in place, trackers/companies can track your activities the moment you wake up in the morning. Everything you lookup online or the places you visit tell a lot about you and your demographic.

Valuable data like such can save companies millions. Instead of running advertisement campaigns using generic matrices, companies can effectively target advertisements relevant to you.

Down below ill discuss 3 ways companies gamble your online privacy for profit.

They’ll simply ask you for it

survey

This might not make sense at all but just hear me out. Although there are powerful tools that can effectively help advertisers target their ads, sometimes just asking people for their information through a survey may just do the trick.

This is exactly what happened in one such case back in 2016. At the time of the 2016’s presidential campaign, former Republican President Ted Cruz hired an independent company to gather psychological data of millions of American Facebook users.

What worse?

Millions of people actually participated in the survey not knowing what the motive behind the survey was. After an analysis of the election campaign, it was discovered that Cruz’s election campaign had paid Cambridge Analytica upwards of $750,000 for “behavioral microtargeting”.

They’ll track you with your cookies

Modern browsers use cookies and companies utilize every bit of it. Cookies are designed to gather information related to your online actives. For instance, a cookie can track what sites you visit, what forms you filled so on and so forth.

Over time, cookies can build a complete profile around you. The website wants to gather as much information as they can about their visitors. Cookie dropping can help them sell their products more effectively. Just like your footprint in the mud, cookies leave a trail of information behind you. What’s even more alarming? Cookies can be synced between multiple devices you own.

According to Arvind Narayanan, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Princeton. Cookie syncing can link up multiple devices that you might own and create a better profile about you.

He further says, even if you manage to bypass a normal cookie, you’ll also have to deal with Supercookies. This type Cookie resides in multiple locations of your browser. Even if you delete it from one location, it’ll respawn from another. It’ll continue to track you down until you manage to delete every trace of it.

They’ll use canvas fingerprinting

trackers

Lastly, marketers can use Canvas fingerprinting to gather data about you. Unlike Cookies, fingerprinting is a much more complex method of tracking. Rather than installing a file in your device as Cookies do, Canvas fingerprinting analyses the browser you’re using and its configurations.

Canvas fingerprinting in itself is a script that uses your browser to create a rather precise persona of you. Similar to Cookies, fingerprinting technique is also integrated into most modern websites. If a website uses Cookies, chances are they use fingerprinting too. Now you might be wondering what makes Canvas fingerprinting any worse than Cookies, right? Well, unlike Cookies which can be deleted from your device, Canvas fingerprinting can’t be. Whether you like it or not, it stays on your device.

Tips to avoid being tracked online

tracked

Although it is difficult to evade trackers, it is not impossible. In fact, there are some SOPs you can opt to potentially stay off the grid. Down below, I’ll motion 2 of my personally tested tips to sway away trackers.

1. Use a VPN

Without a doubt, the number one way to stay anonymous online is to invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you’ve never heard of this technology, it is basically a software that creates an encrypted barrier around you. Aside from encrypting your traffic, VPNs also offer Anti-tracking, zero knowledge DNS and a bunch of other functionalities to fend off any tracking tools. Opting a VPN will get rid of any pesky Cookie crumb trail you leave behind, making you virtually invisible on the web.

If you’re interested in VPNs, make sure you checkout Surfshark review.

2. Use Cookie blockers

Although a VPN is good enough to hide your online activities, it never kills to double down on privacy. Cookie blockers only allow certain whitelisted websites to store your data. They are also super simple to use. Just install the Cookie blockers extension in your browser and you’ll be good to go.

Wrapping up!

So there you have it, folks. These are the cunning way marketers are siphoning your data. I hope you found this blog informative. Hopefully, now no one will able to influence your buying behavior.

Author Bio

Abdul is a simple Tech savvy bloke with a neck for writing. Monday to Friday, he enjoys delving down into the inner workings of privacy and security of top-tier VPN providers. Nevertheless, on the weekend he is a bit modest and simply loves spending time with his dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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