Internet surveillance does not necessarily have to be synonymous with your device being infected by a virus, ransomware, or spyware. The truth is that almost all websites track you online, and big companies like Facebook and Google should be described as two of the worst culprits.
In this article, we talk more about how, and why companies spy on you online, as well as how you can protect yourself from online surveillance.
Custom ads are common
Almost everyone use the internet, and entrepreneurs know this. The ads that are found on the web are often targeted at you as a person, as that procedure leads to more clicks and in the long run more purchases.
It is very natural for ads to be personalized. Advertisers want to reach specific audiences; dating sites want to reach singles while technology chains want to reach people interested in technology with high purchasing power.
IT companies have become increasingly competent when it comes to monitoring ordinary Internet users, and this monitoring takes place primarily with the help of cookies or cookies.
What are cookies?
Cookies are a text file that are stored on your device, and sometimes reveal what you do online. Second-party cookies are often seen as relatively inoffensive, as they usually save insensitive information. These types of files ensure, among other things, that you do not have to log in several times on the same web page.
So-called third-party cookies are becoming more common, and these are mainly used by advertising companies, e.g. Google, to collect information from each web page you visit. The goal of third-party cookies is for the advertising company to be able to create an ad profile, and in the long run customize the ads you see on the screen, which many see as infringing on privacy.
What is an IP address?
An IP address can be equated with a social security number, but for the internet. All devices that are connected have an IP number, which shows, among other things, where you are and which device you are using to connect to the internet. If your device has GPS functionality, tracking will be even more accurate.
Advertising companies create customer registers that contain information about you as a customer. This can be done involuntarily with the help of cookies and IP tracking, but also voluntarily if you register for free services such as a Google account.
Many companies have tracked its customers’ purchasing patterns, which many considered to be privacy-infringing, and Google’s email service Gmail showed ads for a while that were adapted to the content of the email.
However, the protests have been silenced, as many consumers have become accustomed to, or alternatively do not know, that they are being monitored. We believe that everyone should have knowledge of how to protect themselves against surveillance, and we will talk more about this aspect in the next section.
Stay anonymous online
You can protect your privacy online in a number of ways. You can, among other things, surf via the so-called incognito mode, get more email addresses, change search engine and / or use a VPN, which exchanges your real IP address for an anonymous one.
Use the incognito mode
This function has different names depending on which browser you use, but is usually called Private Tab, or “Private Tab”.
Enable incognito mode for Windows and Mac: Select “New Incognito Window” if you are using Chrome, or “New InPrivate Window” if you are browsing Firefox.
Activate the incognito mode for Android and iOS: Select “New incognito tab” for Android, or “Private” if you are browsing via an iPhone or iPad.
If you use the incognito mode, no cookies are saved, which means that Google and other IT giants can not create advertising profiles using your web history. When you exit incognito mode, all cookies and your web history are automatically cleared.
When you are not browsing through incognito mode, it is important that you clear your cookies at regular intervals, to avoid monitoring. Below we describe how you succeed with that maneuver:
Google Chrome: Select “Settings” then “Advanced” and then “Security & Privacy” and finally “Clear Web Information”.
Microsoft Edge: Select “Settings” and then “Delete Web Data”. Finally, you choose the type of information you want to delete.
Mozilla Firefox: Select “Settings”, then “Privacy” and finally “Clear previous history”
Get a VPN service
VPN services, like ExpressVPN and Surfshark, exchange your IP number and anonymize your web traffic for all parties, including Internet operators and copyright control.