We all have experienced seeing ads of something for days after searching it only once over the internet. The ads keep popping up everywhere, either on any social media or other websites. This happens because the majority of the websites we visit are monitoring us digitally.
Now, many of you might already know about web-tracking, but the real question, which you might be finding an answer for as well, is why and how do websites do this? so let’s look at this topic in detail.
How do websites track you?
Long gone are the days when there were only a few methods of web tracking that websites used as tools to monitor our online movement. One such famous and old method was cookies. These are, as we all know, small files dropped by websites on our computers that assist websites in giving a much more personalized experience to the visitors.
Now, there are many more advanced tools available for tracking that use secret codes invisible to our eye. Neither can we see it nor can we ever get to know about them. We are talking about fingerprinting, web beacons, and tracking pixels.
All of these methods are far more aggressive than cookies as they cannot be blocked by any conventional means. Where cookies can be blocked, fingerprinting comes as a tool to track even those people who try blocking cookies. This, a rather ferocious method, extracts minute details from your browser to create an entire profile of your behaviors that sets you apart from others.
On the other hand, web beacons are tiny tags put in the form of transparent images either in emails or a website. These tags analyze how you interact with the content along with storing your IP address, browser type, and access time.
Apart from them, super cookies, zombie cookies, and ultrasound beacons are just another level of tracking tools that eliminate any chance of protecting your data through possible means.
Why do sites engage in web tracking?
The main purpose of web tracking is generally to enhance overall site performance by giving users convenience. Some websites require you to be logged in even when you close them, so that they give you more accurate data, like youtube. While some track you for analytics and advertising purposes.
Then there comes a harmful aspect to all this tracking in the form of third party trackers. The sites you visit are first-party trackers, but the majority of them allow other entities to track you.
Once the third parties are involved, you can now expect your data to be shared with more than two entities because these parties also become able to invite other trackers to the site, and so the chain continues. With so many other parties tracking you, you can never be sure who is trustable and who is not, hence exposing you to numerous possibilities of notorious cyber incidents.
What we covered in this article was only a glimpse of how and why you are being tracked, to educate yourself more and protect your online presence, click here.