Stopping the transfer of absolutely all your personal data to online companies is hardly possible. Or even undesirable, since in many ways it simplifies your online life. That said, there is nothing to stop you from being in full control of the process
and taking measures to protect private information.
Let’s start with browser settings. You may already have enabled Do Not Track. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. This block is not actually an order, but a request. Nothing prevents websites from ignoring it, which they often do!
The next step is to block cookies placed by advertisers’ banners, not the websites themselves. These are usually called “third-party cookies” in the browser’s security and privacy settings.
If you don’t mind logging into your accounts each time you open the browser, configure all local data to be deleted when it closes. But completely blocking all cookies and having to log in every time you want to do anything would be extremely inconvenient.
If you want advertising and other spies not to notice that you visited a particular website, use Incognito mode. After closing an incognito window, the browser will “forget” everything that happened in it, including search queries, passwords, logins,
and cookies, and nothing gets added to your browsing history. Only bookmarked websites will remain stored.
Not only cookies are used for tracking purposes, but often all sorts of toolbars, helpers, and browser extensions (with spyware modules built into them). If a website prompts you to install any of the above, do not hurry to do so. Think first about
whether you need it, and read online reviews from other users and tips from infosec experts. If you have any suspicions, say no. Moreover, extensions quite often have access to all information you receive and send online. And that poses not only
a privacy threat, but a security one.
If you use GMail or Yandex.Mail, read emails directly in the browser, not in a mail client. In this case, the services themselves remove “tracking devices” from messages, so that senders do not know whether you have read them or not.
If you often log into sites through social networks, create a separate account with an empty profile and feed and no friends so as not to give anything away.
Proper settings and sensible behavior are important. But tracking methods are constantly being improved, so it’s a good idea to use regularly updated specialized tools.
First, the browser itself plays a big role. Some developers pay more attention to privacy than others. Of the most common, Mozilla Firefox and Safari guard against snooping more reliably than, say, Google Chrome. Some browsers are even more private,
but they tend to be less user-friendly.
Second, the search engines you use — Google, Yandex, or something else — know an awful lot about you. But there exist private search engines that do not track you, such as DuckDuckGo or StartPage. They deliver less accurate and uncustomized results,
but do not compile a dossier on you.
Furthermore, there are special tools that can protect you from snooping. For example, the Private Browsing feature in Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security blocks attempts to collect information about your online actions. These
solutions also include the Anti-Banner component, which means that no advertising — be it targeted or random — will distract you from work or play on the Internet.
To sum up, in this course you have learned how and why companies hunt for information about you, and the personal threats involved. And although it is impossible to remain completely shielded from prying eyes in the digital world, you can use your
freshly acquired knowhow to leave fewer traces online.
How can you log into a website without advertisers tracking you?