DO YOU KNOW WHO IS WATCHING YOU?

There are several websites that provide totally free services such as Google Mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. Do you ever wonder how they are able to provide services for free?  In order to have a website you must have a server and access to the Internet. Depending on how complex the website is, you may also have to hire several website designers. All of these things cost money. So how are websites able to offer free services? Many websites rely on revenue from ads. The more useful (targeted) the ads are, the more money they can charge their advertisers.

Websites create targeted ads by tracking you. It may be wise to read a website’s privacy policy before you sign up for their “FREE” service. If the service is free, you become the product for that website (at least your data does).

Most websites use cookies to track you. A cookie is a small text file that is saved to your computer’s hard drive by the website that wants to track you. All cookies are not bad. I use many different Google services daily. I am glad that I do not have to type in my username and password each time I want to login. The cookie from Google’s website has my login information stored in it. When I go to Gmail.com, the website looks for their cookie file on my computer, reads the file and then fills in my logon credentials for me.

There are bad cookies as well. It all depends on what information is being collected and how it will be used.  A website owner could decide to create a cookie that tracks not only the sites you visit, but keep a log of the date and time of your visits and your physical location.

Creepy is free software than anyone can download and use to track your physical location. Creepy uses geolocation information from Twitter, Foursquare, and pictures you take with your smartphone that are automatically tagged. If I sell coffee products, and I see that 3-4 days a week at 1pm you are always at your local Starbucks, I may send you ads about products I sell. Again, the big problem is you never know how deep the tracking may go and who will end up with information about you. A cyber crook will probably want to find out your name, address, account usernames and passwords and social security number. Instead of worry about which websites will do some light tracking or which ones will go further and try to know everything they can about you, just take action to stop (or at least minimize) the tracking.

A free product that you can download to see who’s tracking you and then block them is Abine’s DoNotTrackPlus (DNT+). DNT+ is not perfect, but it will really help prevent tracking and the distribution of your web habits. I have been using the product for 3 months and so far it has blocked 43, 268 tracking attempts.

How does it work?

When you visit a website, often times that site tells your browser to contact various other websitescompanies to get information about what you do and who you are. DNT+ stops that data collection from happening by preventing your browser from communicating with these websitescompanies. My experience with DoNotTrackPlus has been a good one. The free software is easy to install and use. I think it is worth looking into.

Click here for more information

Website for Do Not Track Plus 

http://abine.com/dntdetail.php

Cookie 

http://www.microsoft.com/security/resources/cookie-whatis.aspx

See Creepy In Action 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiUInHXlV4o

 Geolocation 

http://www.pcworld.com/article/192803/geolocation_101_how_it_works_the_apps_and_your_privacy.html

Tagged photos 

http://www.betterparentinginstitute.com/Better-Parenting/parenting-child-raising-skills/smartphone-pictures-pose-privacy-risks/

 

Think About Security,

John L. Jones

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