In this article I provide a step by step guide on how to secure your browser from internet trackers and stay safe on the web.
You are being tracked all the time
You may not be aware of this, but every time you visit a web page you are being tracked. Amongst the most prominent trackers you will find Google Analytics - tracking user statistics and bounce rates for most websites on the internet - fair enough, this is valuable feedback to the webmaster and pretty much the single comprehensive way to measure performance.
However, there are a number of other big names to be found who are less inclined to work in your best interests. I am talking about DoubleClick, ADITION and grapeshot - just to name a few!
Let's have a look at one of these companies description:
"Grapeshot is a New York and London based privately-owned keyword technology provider that provides audience and keyword targeting and analytics solutions in open and private programmatic environments. Grapeshot builds connections for brands, publishers, buy-side and supply-side partners using our page crawling algorithm. Grapeshot’s core technology and product suite offers a fully customizable, transparent and scalable solution, giving our clients simple, integrated control over brand safe targeting."
You get it, this is one of those big data analysis companies that collects browser data and sells it to marketing agencies. These companies then use the data to personalize their advertisements and also improve online ads.
These guys are essentially turning the internet into everything that annoys you, using the very data you supply by visiting the pages that deploy their web crawlers.
And you don't even get to see Jack.
So what can I do about this?
There is an awesome add-on for the most popular browsers called Ghostery which identifies, shows and blocks trackers. It's brilliant. It truly is.
Follow these simple steps to set this bad boy up on your browser and your perception of the internet will never be the same again. I guarantee it.
1. Go to your Add-on shop and search for "Ghostery".
Available on: Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Internet Expl....nevermind, who uses IE anyway?
2. Install it and restart your browser.
Business as usual.
3. Click on the plugin icon in your browser's top right corner and open the settings menu.
4. In the settings menu, choose "Trackers & Blocking" and set the following parameters.
5. Choose "Advanced Blocking" from the Settings drop-down menu. This will take you to a the Ghostery interface with all trackers. Choose "Block all" in the top right corner of the table.
You saw that right - 1752 trackers designated for advertisement purposes only.
I'm as scared as you are.
6. Go back to the settings and set these parameters for the "Purple box".
7. Go to "Support Ghostery" setting in the drop-down. This one is up to you - contribute to their tracker database or don't.
It's gonna be a nope for me, 'cause I'm feeling a little extra paranoid today.
Alright! Your browser is secured now!
It think we ought to try this bad boy out, shall we?
Let's head over to one of the most tracker infested websites on the interwebs: independent.co.uk (Not really, but it's a great example)
Score! Ghostery picked up 21 trackers on this website and indicates this in a purple message box in the top right corner. Is this real life?
Lets click on the Ghostery plugin to investigate further:
We've got 13 trackers for advertisement purposes only!
Not bad...Independent...not bad.
We need to go deeper. Let's click on the first tracker "Adyoulike" and see what this guy is all about.
If you want to learn even more about this mischievous tracker, you can click on "view full tracker profile" which will direct you the corresponding entry in Ghostery's database, with further description and a link to the website of the company. How cool is that?
Ghostery is an amazing project which is kept up to date at all times and upgraded every few months or so to keep you safe on the web. It is constantly researching and adding new trackers to their database fueled by the help of it's large community. This is the first extension I install whenever I have to setup a new browser. I'm pretty sure you will do the same, after trying it out. In today's age internet privacy is a major concern for every conscious user as the data collected may well be used against you.
Trackers are everywhere documenting every single step you make on the web every second....but honey badger don't care - honey badger got Ghostery!
a happy honey badger who is using the Ghostery plugin
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found the guide helpful.
image source 1
image source 2
All other images used here are screenshots made by me.
All information provided here is based on my own experience.
If you want to learn more about this project please visit the official website: www.ghostery.com
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- Nick ( @cryptonik ) -