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Understanding Cookies - Who Has Eyes on Your Private Computer?

June 18, 2020
Understanding Cookies - Who Has Eyes on Your Private Computer?

When it comes to online browsing habits, how private do you want your footprints across the web to be?

Privacy issues crop up in many American homes when users share computer access. The nation's recent activity restrictions have driven people to their computers for entertainment, news and work, resulting in even more privacy to juggle.

 

Think about your situation. How many folks in your home have access (allowed or not) to your devices? Kids? Guests? Spouse? Parents? The list can be lengthy. Unless you want your kids to have access to your browsing history when they play a game, it’s time for a privacy makeover.

Set up multiple accounts.

You should be the sole administrator of your network. If you insist, share it with no more than one other trustworthy adult. The admin gets total access to the accounts of all users. Every individual accessing your network should have a separate user account, username and password. This means that every user who desires privacy will have to log out when they finish working. Otherwise, the next user can get into your business. 

 

It's also smart to set up a guest user for visitors. Keep that password simple; don't share your own with any guests.  

Get your cookies, cookies, cookies.

Websites you visit collect little bits of data known as cookies to “improve the browser experience,” a pop-up requesting permission will state. Partly true. Cookies do recognize you each time you visit a web address and make suggestions that can facilitate visits. However, cookies also collect data to benefit the host of those websites. 

 

The details captured in a cookie include your username, your surfing history and items you may put in a shopping cart. Ever received a "Did you leave something in your cart" email? Thank a cookie. 

 

Your browser contains a vast array of privacy and security settings. One will let you delete all cookies periodically if you don't desire this sort of tracking. Most also feature a second option of automatic cookie deletion. 

It's pronounced "cash."

Most folks have a vague understanding of what cache is. The definition of this spelling illuminates some details. A cache is a hidden stash or collection of desirable items – data in this case. Computer cache contains recently viewed images and text. For the user, this reserve delivers a faster view when you revisit a page; there's no need to wait for downloads. However, your cache may not be up-to-date if updates have occurred since your first view.

 

The cache also uses space on your device, which can slow down operations. For the browsing host and its merchant clients, this data store serves an entirely different purpose. It is tracking you also. Again, go to the privacy and security settings on your browser to empty your cache.

A history lesson.

 

You've probably noticed the history tab on your browser's top list of functions. Have you ever delved into it? It might be time to do so. Perhaps the most sensitive records on your device are what you search, and the history tab gathers it all. If you're shopping for a birthday present but don't want a family member to discover your intent, clearing that browser history is smart. 

 

Clearing history has a multitude of other uses. Imagine where the web takes you and decide whether you want a family member or guest scoping out all your web traffic and destinations. You can probably think of lots of searches you might want to keep private.

 

Data brokers vacuum up browsing info constantly. That's another reason to use anonymous browsing options that can erase your history and cookies when you close the browser. It will also slash the number of targeted ads you receive.

 

Simple steps help.

 

Private browsing methods have increased recently. Google incognito mode means no cookies collected and no history retained. That's a big plus if you're using a public computer or a friend's device. When you quit your session, it wipes out records of your visit. Remember to close the browser.

 

Another benefit of dark or private mode works for specific types of websites. Consider travel sites. Some log every visit you make and, potentially, every flight you research. Users have claimed this practice results in higher fares offered to more frequent visitors. Using cloaked access might save you some bucks. Using a secondary browser is another workaround.

 

Going incognito sounds a bit risqué, doesn't it? Use cloaking if you do not want anyone to know any history that might embarrass you if it became public knowledge. Think graphic online entertainment sites here.

 

Private options are also available for iPhones and Macs. Just remember that these undercover techniques provide device privacy, and some folks will still track you – namely, your internet service provider (ISP). That company keeps the history and sites you visit may retain data.

 

In truth, no option is ever going to deliver 100% privacy, so consider privacy every time you surf the World Wide Web.

IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. IDShield plans are available at individual or family rates. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.

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