Protect yourself and all your devices against tracking for FREE

This is the second post on  how to protect yourself, following the one about how to “Protect yourself and all your devices against ads for FREE“.

Tracking via cookies

The idea behind tracking is actually a good one. Imagine that you search on Amazon for “hard drive 500 gb”. This website drops a cookie in your browser which gets saved locally. If you are logged on in your Amazon account, this is usually not needed because your entire activity is logged, but if you’re not, this is happening in order to be able to show you relevant products next time when you visit the website.

Nothing wrong here, it is actually helping you across visits.

But, this technology can also be misused. Imagine that a website, plugin, toolbar or anything else you have in your browser writes a cookie that many affiliate websites can read. So, to use the other example, one website writes the cookie about the product you were searching (hdd) and then all other affiliate websites can read it. Next time you visit any of them, you will automatically see ads about the products you searched on any other website. Even if this might seem like a innocent action, it is actually an attack on your privacy. You never gave your consent to be tracked across multiple domains.

 

Here is how such cookies look like in Chrome (Settings -> Show advanced settings -> Privacy: Content Settings -> All cookies and site data):

cookies-chrome

 

And this is how the cookies of Google.com look like:

google-cookie

and those of microsoft.com

microsoft-cookie

 

How can you prevent tracking via cookies?

The settings are different for each browser, and sometimes it is quite hard to block something with the settings of the browser.

Here is how the settings for Chrome, Firefox and IE look like:

Chrome:

chrome-privacy-settings

Be sure to select “Enable phishing and malware protection” and “Send a ‘do not track’ request with your browsing traffic”.

There are additional settings when you visit chrome://settings/content but it is safe to let them as the defaults are.

 

Internet Explorer

ie-security

Be sure to set the level to “Medium-High”.

ie-privacy

 

Be sure to set the level to “High”.

 

Firefox

firefox-security firefox-privacy

 

Use Add-ons for additional control

The settings of the browsers are pretty good, but the browsers are designed to work with as many websites as possible, so they are quite permissive in their default settings. The best way is to install extensions that control cookies and tracking. One of the best extensions I know is “Do Not Track Me” from Abine.

The good part is that Abine has collected information about websites and has set some defaults that will make your browsing experience better.

 

Learn even more about IT Security. Get the free eBook from here


© Copyright 2013 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

Check www.mustaca.com for the IT Consulting services I offer.
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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca

Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since year 2000 in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is an independent IT Security Consultant focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .

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