NEW DELHI: Yes, you are being tracked on internet and several entities are keeping dossier on you. It is so common that you must have found that out yourself. Google does it all the time and so do your social media sites. While this kind of tracking is for commercial purposes such as showing you ads that you would be interested in, you can also be tracked by cyber criminals which can result in harm or serious breach of privacy.
Google knows your every move on the web
Google knows a lot about you. Why? What does Google gain by tracking the activities of its users? Quite simply, Google earns money by doing so. A large part of Google’s revenue is based on advertisements and the impressions they gain through users. So, the Google way of advertising is quite simply showing you advertisements that are tailored to your needs.
So, your Google searches, voice searches, location changes, all are tracked and stored by Google so that the advertisements can be as tailored and accurate as they can be.
But Google is not the only big corporate that does targeted advertising. Targeted advertising is the easiest way for a user to know that his movements in the web world are being tracked, but companies still do it because that is how integral the cyber space has become to human life.
All get to know about you
Another basic example of user activity being tracked on the internet is the inter-connectivity between different websites. Let’s take the example of e-commerce and social media. It is easy to notice that as soon as one searches for a product on Amazon or Flipkart, various advertisements of similar products appear on your Facebook home page.
It would make sense for a user to divulge such information for a tangible benefit or reward. But on the internet, allowing yourself to be tracked brings you only an advertisement, and you don’t have a say in whether you want to see that ad or not. So it is important that users take control back and ensure that they are suitably protected on the web.
Google keeping a dossier on you is not as dangerous as a cyber criminal tracking your moves. It can happen through malware that get installed on your computer, your smart TV or even your webcam. Always keep your webcam covered. There is malware that can get into your computer or smart device and switch on cameras and recorders to access your private activities.
While it’s hard to protect your personal information on the internet with 100% effectiveness, there are a few easy steps you can take that will make you a lot safer. According to Kaspersky Lab, these are certain ways in which you can manage your privacy and ensure that you are not tracked on the internet.
Monitoring your outgoing traffic
1.Click the Windows Start button and type ‘cmd’ to launch the Command window, which will display as a black box with white text reading ‘C:\Users\Your Username’.
2.Type ‘netstat’ next to the prompt and press ‘Enter’ to generate a list of all outgoing data transmissions. The Netstat command works best when you have as few applications opened as possible, preferably just one Internet browser. The Netstat generates a list of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that your computer is sending information to. Some of these IP address are legitimate and correspond to websites or services that you are using.
3.Document each IP address reported by Netstat and launch a Web browser. Enter each IP address into your browser’s address bar and press ‘Enter’ to attempt to locate where the information is being sent.
Locating stealth apps
1.Right-click your taskbar and select ‘Start Task Manager’ to launch your task manager, a list of all running processes on your computer.
2.Close all programmes except for one Web browser.
3.Select the ‘Processes’ tab, then select ‘User Name’ and browse through the list to view all processes running on your computer. Processes that do not include your username may be an indication of malicious software running on your computer.
Do not personalise Google Ad settings
But possibly, the most interesting part of protecting yourself on the web comes through Google’s ad settings page. Google creates a personal profile for each of its individual users based on the user’s specific interests. It is based on this profile that various ads keep following you around the internet. Therefore, it important that your ‘ad personalisation’ option on your Google account is left unchecked.
Such problems arise especially when you sign into a specific user account on Google Chrome, for ease of internet access across various platforms. But, in doing so, you put your own personal information at risk of being misused.
Incognito mode will not help
There is a myth that browsing in incognito/private mode on your browser would solve all these problems. But even this won’t completely stop ads. There are further measures that must be put in place, including different browser add-ons, which let you customize what you’re blocking.
Hot Spot Shield hides IP addresses. IP addresses are generally used to link data and other information that a website knows about you. For instance, the website could get to know your country or city based on your registration details on the site. IP addresses are often what law enforcement authorities ask internet service providers for during various investigations.
Just log out
Don’t remain logged into your social media accounts all the while. You are easy to track if you are always logged into your social media account because you are letting the social media company know whatever you do on internet. Once you are logged out, your surfing cannot by tracked by your social media company. Ditto for email. You can also use special software that block tracking.
In summary, your every move in the cyber space is being tracked by someone or the other. It is up to you to ensure that all you security measures are in place. Otherwise, it is as simple as you allowing your personal information to be misused by a third party.