This Is How Your Browser Compromises Your Privacy
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Did you know that every time you go online, your web browser leaves a massive trail of information behind?

Anyone with access to your computer could review this information to learn a lot about your habits. What’s more, your browser happily reports more than you think Is Your Browser Leaking Your Online Secrets? Is Your Browser Leaking Your Online Secrets? Is your browser leaking your online secrets? Could it be letting your train spotting obsession out of the bag, without even an inkling of remorse? And if it is, how on earth would you know? Read More to the websites you’re on.

Just how bad is this? Let’s take a look at the various details your browser reveals about you.

History and Cache

Here’s an obvious one. As you probably know, most browsers include a History function that collects every single page you visit. If you don’t clear it How to Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History How to Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History The websites you visit leave tracks on your computer. We show you how to delete your browsing history in Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Internet Explorer. Read More , this information is freely available for anyone to see.

This lets others see what websites you visit, how frequently, and follow your “train of thinking” when you were browsing. That’s a lot of information you probably don’t want to share.

browser history and cache

If you don’t thoroughly clean your browsing data, you might also leave cache information behind 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them Cached files can take up a lot of bytes. While dedicated tools can help you free up disk space, they might not clear it all. We show you how to manually release storage space. Read More . Cache refers to bits of information your browser downloads so that it can quickly display them next time you visit, thus speeding up your browsing. Someone typing chrome://cache into Chrome or about:cache into Firefox could review all current cache entries.

Cookies

While your history is a simple list of links you’ve clicked, cookies have more nefarious uses. Of course, not all cookies are bad. Checking the Keep me signed in box and setting preferences for a website wouldn’t work without cookies. But click around a few popular websites, and you’ll pick up boxes’ worth of cookies.

These follow you around your web travels How Advertisers Use Web Beacons to Track You on the Web and in Emails How Advertisers Use Web Beacons to Track You on the Web and in Emails Have you ever wondered how advertisers track you around the web? There are many methods, but the use of web beacons is one of the more common and effective. Read More and share your browsing data with advertisers in order to show you more relevant ads. This is why you see ads for a product you just viewed on Amazon when you’re reading a news article.

browser cookies

Clearing cookies temporarily wipes this tracking, but they build up again when you start browsing. Thus, cookies serve as a giant map of your web journey and show what you’re interested in. And that’s not even considering the more dangerous supercookies What Are Supercookies, and Why Are They Dangerous? What Are Supercookies, and Why Are They Dangerous? Verizon has been fined for tracking customers with a unique identifier header (UIDH), also known as a "supercookie." But what is a supercookie? And why is it worse than a regular cookie? Read More .

Bookmarks

Have you ever considered the information someone can glean about you just from your bookmarks Creative Ways You Need to Try to Organize Your Bookmarks Creative Ways You Need to Try to Organize Your Bookmarks But, what really is the best way to save and organize bookmarks? Here are a few creative ways to do so, depending on your style and browser use. Read More ?

Take a look at your bookmarks bar, and you’ll probably see shortcuts to your financial websites, favorite news pages, and other telling info. If someone knows that you use Bank of America and your email address, they would be one password theft away 5 Ways Passwords and Other Data Can Be Stolen From Right Under Your Nose 5 Ways Passwords and Other Data Can Be Stolen From Right Under Your Nose If you lose your password to criminals, your entire existence can potentially be rewritten. Protect yourself. Read More from breaking in. Seeing your favorite news sites gives an idea of your views and beliefs. How about seeing a bookmark to a dating website 16 Free Dating Sites to Help You Find Love 16 Free Dating Sites to Help You Find Love Most online dating is done on apps now. But there are still many good dating websites out there. Here's a wide selection of the free online relationship websites out there. Go find love! Read More , revealing that you’re (hopefully) single?

bookmarks and bookmarks toolbar

This goes for your homepage, too. Is your start page potentially embarrassing? What if you have your browser set to open your tabs from last time and that accidentally reveals something?

True, knowing that you like to read NPR isn’t a compromising fact on its own. But seeing the websites that matter most to you is one more piece of information 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity According to the US Bureau of Justice, identity theft cost victims over $24 billion in 2012, more than household burglary, motor, and property theft combined. These 10 pieces of information are what thieves are looking... Read More that your browser reveals to anyone who accesses it.

Extensions

So far, we’ve only discussed what your browser alone can reveal about you. Add in extensions, and you’ve got a whole new set of problems.

Most browser extensions require invasive permissions to work properly. Many of them are legitimate, but not all. We’ve collected lists of extensions you should not install 10 Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall Right Now 10 Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall Right Now It's hard to keep track of which extensions have been caught abusing their privileges, but you should definitely uninstall these 10 as soon as possible. Read More due to known privacy violations like selling your browsing info. Because most of these are available for free, they have to make money somehow. Even once-legitimate extensions can sell out to spammers and start leaking your information.

Saved Passwords and Autofill Info

Most browsers offer to save your passwords, address, and even your credit card. While this is convenient, you guessed it: your browser doesn’t always keep this private.

Using your browser, someone could use the autofill to reveal your address and a lot more Browser Autofill Is a Privacy Risk: Here's How to Turn It Off Browser Autofill Is a Privacy Risk: Here's How to Turn It Off Autofill is a convenient browser feature, but a big exploit was recently found that could result in you giving away more info than you thought. Here's how to disable it and stay safe. Read More . If you don’t keep your passwords saved in a secure manager, someone could peek at them Why You Should Use Browsers for Browsing, Not Saving Information Why You Should Use Browsers for Browsing, Not Saving Information Read More when your browser fills them in.

Technical Information Reported to Sites

Let’s say you clear your history regularly, don’t use bookmarks, have no extensions, and haven’t saved any autofill information. You’re all clear then, right?

No. Your browser still reports a fair amount of information Find Out What Your Browser Is Revealing About You Find Out What Your Browser Is Revealing About You Your browser gives up more information about you than you might realize. These sites show you just how much. A real eye-opening experience. Read More to every website you visit. Visit Webkay for one example. This website knows your approximate location, OS and browser version, basic info about your CPU and GPU What Is the Difference Between an APU, a CPU, and a GPU? What Is the Difference Between an APU, a CPU, and a GPU? Over the last five or more years, there have been a number of different terms swirling around to describe computer hardware. Some of those terms include but aren’t limited to APU, CPU, and GPU. But... Read More , your download speed, and what websites you’re logged into. That’s quite a bit of info that any website can use without your permission.

computer hardware details

Click is another scary proof-of-concept. This tool shows how your browser reports where your mouse it moving, when you’re leaving a site, and exactly when you’ve interacted with the site. Complete with audio, you’ll feel like someone is really watching you Big Daddy Is Watching: 6 Ways You Are Monitored Everyday Big Daddy Is Watching: 6 Ways You Are Monitored Everyday Are you really being spied on every hour of every day? Post-911, surveillance in western countries has obviously increased, but you'll be surprised at just how often you're being watched, and by who. Read More .

Click tool in relation to browser privacy

Social Sites and Google Tracking

Here’s more good news: Google, Facebook, and other massive entities track you all over the web Facebook Is Tracking You! Here's How to Stop It Facebook Is Tracking You! Here's How to Stop It Who is tracking your movements online? ISPs, the government, Google... but what about social media sites like Facebook? Yes, them too. Here's how you stop Facebook tracking you around the internet. Read More . If you’re logged into a Google account, Google keeps track of every website you visit. Facebook and Twitter use those social sharing buttons to keep an eye on what you’re doing, too.

But even if you aren’t logged into Facebook, it still tracks you It Doesn't Matter If You're Not On Facebook: They're Still Tracking You It Doesn't Matter If You're Not On Facebook: They're Still Tracking You A new report claims the Facebook is tracking people without their permission. It doesn't matter if you don't use social networking service: they're still watching you. What can you do about it? Read More . Google keeps track of what every user clicks even if you aren’t logged in.

These companies make billions of dollars in advertising. It’s in their best interest to figure out what you like and show it to you, thus the incessant tracking.

What About Incognito and Private Browsing?

You might think that you’ve defeated all this potentially incriminating information because you use incognito or private browsing. Unfortunately, while incognito mode does prevent your browser from saving history, it does little else to protect you 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You Go Incognito Online 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You Go Incognito Online Incognito Mode (or private browsing in general) may not be as safe as you think it is. Here are some important things to keep in mind before the next time you do. Read More .

Someone could snoop on your private browsing 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing Private browsing is private in 99% of cases, but there are many ways in which it can be circumvented, thanks to browser extensions and hacks. Some of them don't even need all that much work. Read More with several methods. Your ISP still sees what you’re doing unless you use a VPN 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a VPN Virtual Private Networks are affordable and easy to use. Along with a firewall and antivirus/anti-malware solution, here is exactly why you should have a VPN installed. Read More . And going incognito doesn’t stop your browser from reporting information to websites or prevent tracking.

While incognito mode is a useful tool, it’s far from a solution to the problem of browsers leaking information.

How Can I Prevent This?

While you can’t stop your browser from sharing every bit of information about you, you do have ways to limit what it shares.

A great start is installing an anonymous web browser 4 Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private 4 Anonymous Web Browsers That Are Completely Private A good way to protect your information on the web is to surf anonymously. Google Chrome’s Incognito mode can help to an extent, but you should also look at the following web browsers. Read More built around protecting privacy. Unlike mainstream options, these have a goal of keeping you as safe as possible. If you can’t switch your entire browser, you can still get some benefit by installing some privacy-protecting apps 5 Privacy Protecting Apps You Need to Use Right Now 5 Privacy Protecting Apps You Need to Use Right Now Privacy is an area of increasing concern in the internet age. You have to do whatever you can to stay secure. These five tool help to keep you secure and safe online. Read More .

And if you’re all-in on online privacy, check out our guide to avoiding internet surveillance Avoiding Internet Surveillance: The Complete Guide Avoiding Internet Surveillance: The Complete Guide Internet surveillance continues to be a hot topic so we've produced this comprehensive resource on why it's such a big deal, who's behind it, whether you can completely avoid it, and more. Read More .

Is Your Browser Sharing Too Much?

From minor incidental information to major trends and interests, your web browser reveals a lot about who you are and what you do. It’s scary to see all this in one place, but you thankfully have options for combating it.

Unfortunately, your browser information is just one of the many ways you’re being exploited every day 5 Ways Your Information Is Being Exploited Every Day 5 Ways Your Information Is Being Exploited Every Day You may not be too worried about having your rights infringed, or you might be very concerned that you're being tracked. Whatever the case, here's how your information is being exploited right now. Read More .

What type of information was the most shocking to you? Do you use any privacy measures to stop your browser from sharing information? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. RubRiches
    February 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Conclusion:
    Get of the internet, probably live in the woods.

    You can't really be invisible on the web, so keep calm and follow safety routine, that's it.

  2. Pete
    February 3, 2018 at 1:27 am

    IMO the only real way to browse privately is to use a VPN, or Tor, or both. I recently set up ExpressVPN to work with Tor. Actually wasn't that hard.

  3. dragonmouth
    February 2, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    "This website knows your approximate location, OS and browser version, basic info about your CPU and GPU, your download speed, and what websites you’re logged into."
    approximate location - if you call 10 miles approximate
    OS and browser version - that's not too hard
    basic info about your CPU and GPU - VERY basic, got just the manufacturer right
    download speed - not even close
    websites you’re logged into - ditto

    Webkay seems to be one big ad for NoScript.

    Privacy Badger reported 25 possible trackers on the Webkay site.