What does the Internet know about you?
Ever wondered what the big tech companies know about? Or even what your internet service provider knows about you based on your browsing history, internet habits, and online data? The real answer might actually scare you. Most companies that collect our data have an accurate picture of our beliefs, priorities, needs etc. They collect this data by observing our every move online, and yes that is true even if we don’t know about it or if we never consented to this process. But luckily we don’t have to put up with this. There are more and more tools geared towards increased online security and we are going to discuss a few of the outstanding examples down below. But first, let’s discuss why our online habits are even interesting to giant companies.
Why do companies want our data?
You might be thinking that as long as you’re not a famous or influential person, your online presence will largely go unnoticed. Actually, no matter your age, gender, or financial status, your data is extremely valuable to big companies, especially the ones that want to try and sell you things with targeted ads. The more information companies have about your digital footprint, habits, and preferences the better they can tailor their ads to you, increasing the chances of you falling for their tactic. In turn, these companies get to make a lot of money, even if their practices are extremely unethical.
On a completely different note, your online presence and the information companies can get on you can be used for political reasons as well, helping the candidates market themselves in a way that appeals to you personally. What’s even scarier is that so many people have no idea that they’re being watched online. Luckily there are ways to stop these companies or any other third party from seeing your online activity or data you store digitally. Here’s what you can do to prevent big companies from gathering your data.
Where to start with digital security
A great first step towards more online security is knowing what these companies know about you so that you can protect yourself against any tactics or ads that might be used to sell you products or make a political candidate seem more appealing to you. One of the ways to figure out what data the big companies are using is to use the chrome extension called Data Selfie. This extension takes your Facebook activity and analyzes it to create a profile based on that data. It will then show you what the advertisers see, your preferences, your personality, and your intelligence as told through your Facebook engagement, profile, and public information. This can help you better determine which of the posts you see on your feed were tailored to you and you can avoid being influenced or swayed by these tactics.
Use a VPN
In this day and age, if you do anything online, you should be using a VPN. Some people think that using an incognito mode is enough to shield their identity from internet service providers but that is a huge misconception. Unless you are using a VPN, everything you do online is being traced right back to you without any effort.
This isn’t just about safety either, having your data exposed online could mean serious security threats that could affect you online and in real life as well.
VPNs protect your identity, keeping you anonymous while you browse online. It’s important to choose the right VPN since there are many subpar options online. You might be tempted to get a free VPN, but just know that it will not do the job like it’s supposed to. Very often these very companies will sell your data to third parties, defeating the whole purpose of having a VPN.
Instead, opt for a fairly priced VPN that has all the necessary features. BlufVPN has over 500 servers in over 60 countries and ensures your safety online.
Another step you can take to increase your online security is to use anti-tracking extensions.
If you use a VPN but don’t clear your cookies on a regular basis, the trackers will still give out your personal details and habits. Clearing cookies manually on a regular basis can get pretty tedious so the next thing to do is to add some anti-tracker extension to your browser. Depending on which browser you use you might have more or fewer options for anti-tracking extensions. Some of our favorites are Privacy Badger and Ghostery but feel free to choose the one that works with your browser.
There are a lot of ways that our online service providers profit off of our negligence. We are so used to doing everything online that we rarely take the time to realistically assess all the risks and dangers of being unprotected online. You may believe that no company would be interested in your data, but as we mentioned above, there is always a third party that is more than willing to exploit you and your online data, for their own gain.
There will always be people who say that they have nothing to hide, so they won’t use any measures to ensure their digital security, but actually, these tools are just meant to provide the security that should have been granted to clients by all these big companies but sadly that’s just not the reality.
Protecting our online presence and data has become a personal responsibility, so the best thing to do is ensure you know about all the tools that can help you stay anonymous online while protecting your data. You can use all of these tools or a combination of some depending on your situation. But not having any protection when browsing online is the worst choice you can make for yourself and your safety since there are so many ways to attack and exploit our data when we don’t take those extra steps for security.