How to see who is following you online and stop them
This page was translated using AI and machine learning.
(Pocket-lint) – If you’ve become hyper aware of being tracked online and your data is being collected without your explicit consent, you’ve come to the right place. We describe how to prevent you from being tracked, or how to limit it anyway.
Who collects your data and why?
First, understand that “data collection” is a vague concept. The data may include personally identifiable information, such as your email address and social security number. It can also be your internet activity including the pages you visit and even metadata like when you visit these pages. Your email conversations, online shopping, medical information, and even financial details like credit card numbers are also considered data.
As to who collects this data and why, there are a few different culprits.
Hackers can use techniques like phishing to scam you and steal your data. But there are also internet service providers in the United States who are licensed to monitor your internet activity and use it as a source of income. They collect anonymous browsing logs from users and sell this “data” to marketers, who use it to develop hyper-targeted online advertisements.
Your Internet activity can also be tracked by cookies – small pieces of text that are downloaded and stored by your web browser. These are used by most websites and services to record a user’s online habits, which, again, is data that is then used to personalize advertisements. It is also used to improve your internet experience as a whole. Even mobile apps and browser extensions can track your activity.
Your data is the new gold, and they want it.
How to see who is stalking you and stop them
Extensions and plugins
There are several browser extensions available that claim to help you see who is tracking your web browsing habits, but many of them track each other invasively. The following are recommended as safe to use, in that they help protect you or let you know who is following you – while not following themselves, or, if they do, it is as little as possible.
– HTTPS Everywhere: Visiting an HTTP website that doesn’t support encryption by default? This plugin forces you to use encryption, which helps protect your online shopping, payment information, and general web browsing from malicious actors who eavesdrop for theft.
– Privacy Badger: This extension, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), works on Opera, Firefox and Chrome. It monitors third parties and ad networks that attempt to track you using cookies and fingerprints and may even block them automatically.
– Disconnect: Disconnect, an extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera, is designed to visually show you which websites are tracking your activity in real time. Invisible trackers watching you can also be easily blocked with Disconnect.
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– Blur: Blur, available for Firefox and Chrome, can be used as a password manager and generator, ad blocker, and for encryption. We also like the use of “hidden cards” in the premium version. These disposable virtual cards are used at online vendors in place of your credit card data.
What else can you do?
Remember, it is very difficult to escape data collection and monitoring. If you use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, be aware that most of these online services follow you and have only recently started adopting end-to-end encryption. All major tech companies – Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple – have even been surprised to use contractors in the past to listen to user conversations recorded by their applications and assistants.
There is no way around this: Browsers are at the heart of data collection. Ad networks follow you to all sites, while the ISP logs the pages you visit and hackers attempt to use unsecured Wi-Fi connections and unencrypted websites to successfully access you and collect information. data. To protect yourself from all of this, use a secure web browser, such as Tor, on your desktop and mobile device.
– Tor browser: Tor is like a regular browser, but it lets you browse the web anonymously. However, while you can use Tor for anything, video streaming can be slow and some plugins (like Flash) are disabled. You can also use the mobile version of Tor, Tor for Android on Google Play Store. There is also the Orbot app for Android and Onion Browser for iOS. They are both approved by leading security researchers.
Google, Yahoo! and Bing collect all of your data to deliver “personalized” experiences. To avoid this, consider using an alternative search engine that does not log your search history and blocks ad trackers. Examples include DuckDuckGo, Qwant, and Startpage.
Virtual private networks
A virtual private network is perhaps the best way to create a secure tunnel and hide your online presence. Data packets are encrypted before being sent to a server, hiding your IP addresses and location. For this reason alone, the use of VPN is prohibited in some countries. If it’s legal in your country, like the US or UK, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Premium VPNs are often more reliable, as free services can track and sell your data, negating the value of using a VPN for privacy. Our favorites include NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, and TorGuard.
Finally, use encrypted apps to keep your online conversations private between you and the person you intended to see your communications.
– Signal: Signal is considered the most secure messaging application when used correctly. Available for iOS and Android and for desktop, it is end-to-end encrypted and does not collect metadata. It’s also open-source, for anyone to inspect the code.
Written by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on .