I have been interested in Internet security and privacy since the day I started using it. The ways to monitor and watch the activities of others online has grown significantly as technology has evolved at a breathtaking pace in the past few years. Smartphones form a vital part of our daily tasks and in the future, the internet of things will become integrated into everything we do in our lives. The technology dependency has made it easier for stalkers, companies and government to monitor our activities online. Some of these ways are listed below.
Google Searches/ Gmail
All the information being searched online via Google is recorded and data is stored on their servers provided you are browsing in incognito mode or logged out of our Google account. By consistently searching about a variety of information on Google, it gives them access to our likes and dislikes, the information then helps them build a complete profile. Gmail is known to scan our emails to provide a tailored and customized experience. Now that is really freaking, all our confidential emails being sent and received are always under scrutiny!
Shockingly, the sheer accuracy of the targeted advertisements in regards to our interests can be astonishing for many users. While browsing any website especially e-commerce websites, its a standard practice to place a cookie in your browser, which records your every click and view on the website. So, when you open that website next time, you will be greeted with advertisements with respect to the products searched previously. Google will display similar product ads on other websites too. The solution to avoid this privacy breach is to logout of all services, and set your browser to delete all your browser history on exit.
All information shared or posted on Facebook/ Twitter is not privy to being private in any sense of the word. Both these popular websites are known to be indulged in data scraping, allowing access to third-party websites to collect your personal data, tracking your activities e.t.c. The things we ‘Like’ on Facebook, the articles we share to Twitter via social widgets or any other websites, are also tools to track what we do and share online.
Watching TV or streaming music online
Thanks to rising internet speeds, consuming content online has become a favourite past time for most users online. From viewing our favourite videos on YouTube/ Dailymotion to streaming music on Saavn, everything is being monitored, recorded and information is being sold to data brokers. All these companies have so much information that it can be referred to as a treasure stove for marketing agencies. The dataset available to these companies allows them to target users with online videos which are tailored to your choosing or corresponding to an analytical history of the content viewed previously. However, websites like YouTube or Dailymotion allow users to remove tracks of their recently viewed videos and it is recommended to delete the history of whatever you have viewed on these websites.
Much like physical footprints that we leave in the real world, our digital ones are as immersive in terms of being tracked and monitored by a wide variety of companies online. The recommendation for protecting your privacy online is to use VPN softwares like TunnelBear or CyberGhost . The ability to spoof your location with the help of these tools which can encrypt and secure your browsing can help you avoid being tracked online in most cases.