Category: Internet Filtering & Security

VPN Explained for Dummies | Is a VPN Necessary?

Should You Have a VPN

Ok, you’re not a dummy.  This is simply an article that explains VPNs in simple terms.  VPN services are not well known to the average person. For those who are aware of what they do, VPN services are often given a bad rap. We’ll explore and answer questions and concerns. We’ll also define what a VPN does and look at the online safety benefits.

VPN is short for Virtual Private Network.  It’s main security function is privacy protection. The privacy obtained through this private network is one of the reasons VPN’s get a bad name. However, when it comes to cyber security, personal privacy protection is a cornerstone of Internet safety. The need for effective solutions is growing.

How Does a VPN Protect your Privacy?

A VPN hides your location and makes it look like you are located somewhere other than your actual location.  You can choose the country and available locations within that country that you want it to appear you are accessing the Internet from.  One of the most practical places you would want to hide you location is when surfing public WiFi.  There are security risks regarding your personal information when logging on to public WiFi.  Firstly, never log on to a public WiFi unless there is an official verification of you as a user.   For example, when logging on to WiFi, such as an airport’s official free WiFi service, it will ask you to agree to certain terms.  This identifies yourself to the airport WiFi providers as well.  It also identifies others using the service.

This still won’t stop hackers from being able to anonymously spy on your lap top of phone.  Using a VPN will hide you from potential hackers who may be sitting just a few feet away from you.  The same is true for public Wifi in libraries and hotels. Most hotels require a password, which make it a little more secure but it’s still no match for a hacker who wants to hijack your laptop or mobile device.  If you are using public WiFi without a VPN, you should restrict your internet usage to activity that does not involve logging into personal accounts, such as banking.

Why Do VPN’s Get a Bad Rap?

If a VPN hides your location, then the assumption is that you are going to do something illegal.  True, VPN’s may be used by criminals who do not want authorities to see what they are doing online.  There are other activities that VPN’s are used for that are not necessarily illegal or have drastic legal ramifications, but many deem them as unethical.  These include streaming services such as NetFlix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime.  Streaming services only have the rights to show certain movies and TV shows in particular countries according to agreements with the copyright owners of that material.  If you pretend to be from a different country, would would gain access to entertainment that normally is not allowed in your country.

Additional Uses of a VPN

There are other legitimate reasons people want to sign up for a VPN on their computer, lap top or mobile phone.  We mentioned protection while using public WiFi already.  Here are a few more.

VPN Protection in Countries that Limit Personal Freedoms

If you live in a fully democratic country, you will be enjoying freedom to speak your mind or write about thoughts and ideas without suppression or persecution from your government.  There are countries that limit this in different ways.  These include; totalitarian regimes and communist countries that are highly restrictive, failed states and countries of great political unrest, as well as seudo democracies that suppress political opposition and limit access to information to control it’s citizens.

These countries also block legitimate websites to keep people from reading ‘fact based’ news, as opposed to state propaganda. They censor information online and there can be great consequences for journalists and bloggers who seek to expose government injustice and stand up a free and open society.  Even a regular citizen in a restrictive country can go to jail for posting a protest message on social media.  For these reasons, a VPN can protect individuals from being located and charged with doing something that is illegal in their own country, but is highly regarded as noble and just in a democratic country.

VPN’s Prevent Swatting for Gamers

This is a scary one.  Swatting is when a fellow gamer online reports your to local police in your area and commits a most horrendous prank.  Or they may do it to get back at you for beating them at a game or just to be mean.  They will call the SWAT team to your home claiming there is hostage taking or that someone has a gun and threatening people.  The unbeknownst gamer in your family and anyone else at home is shocked when SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) shows up and hauls everyone out of your home in handcuffs.  Sometimes the outcomes of a swatting call are much worse.

The FBI reports that there are over 400 cases of swatting in the USA every year.  New technology has evolved that has expanded swatting from the home to public areas.  A VPN protects gamers at home and anyone out in public.  Video game players with a VPN turned on can rest easy.  If they get on the bad side of another gamer half way around the world, those bad eggs won’t be able to detect where you live.

VPN Protection from ISP Tracking

Your internet service provider (ISP) collects your data and can often sell your personal information for advertising purposes.  This is legal but many protest that this is an invasion of privacy.  Most people are not concerned about it because internet service providers are not out to hurt you.  Though the threat does not appear imminent, your private information is still exposed to third parties.  Opening a new private window in your browser, also known as incognito mode, is not as secure as you think.  It does not hide your personal information from your IPS.  It merely blocks cookies from being saved and prevents websites from collecting your data as a user.  This can help you save money while shopping (more about that in our next point) but it does not provide full privacy.

Using VPN’s for Online Shopping Freedom

As alluded to in the previous paragraph, you can activate privacy mode in your browser to ensure you are not overpaying for products. This is especially true for airlines.  They want air travelers to pay the highest price possible for a plane ticket.  They will increase prices for customers they think will pay more and also reduce prices for those who are only willing to pay less.  Hiding your location and private information results keeps these websites in the dark about browsing history and buying habits.  For this reason, using a VPN for online shopping does a much better job of protecting you from over paying for products and services.

It also allows you to shop more easily while away from home.  Let’s say you are in another country and want to buy a product to be shipped to you by the time you return home.  Setting your location to your home country will allow you to shop as if you were there and not be subjected to different prices or shipping restrictions because the website thinks you are a foreigner.

Protection from Hackers

Apart from the legal and seemingly innocent tracking that websites and internet service providers do while you are surfing the web, we can’t forget about the risk of being hacked.  Every home should have a proper firewall set up and every computer should be running proper Internet security.  Regardless of these protections however, hacking of your computer and the stealing of your private information can still occur at home.  A VPN hides your location so a hacker can’t find you.

Protection Against Cyberbullying:

We would not say that getting a VPN is a primary solution if a child is being cyberbullied. If you are having a serious problem and threats are involved, call your local police.  In extreme cases, having a VPN even for a short time can prevent bullies from finding out where you live until bullying issues are resolved.  The same is true for online predators.  Proper guidance and parental controls go a long way to protect kids online, but if you are dealing with a situation where a predictor may be attempting to stalk your child at home or at school, a VPN will stop that.

Business Protection

Most businesses do not have a lot of extra dollars to hire full time IT personal to protect their data.  A monthly subscription to a VPN is relatively affordable and manageable within a companies budget.  Businesses big and small will have 24/7 privacy protection that anti-virus and malware programs can’t provide.  Hackers need an IP address to hack any home or office.  This is cludes hacking Microsoft 365 accounts.  Also, consider all your employees traveling the world and putting company data a risk.  Another benefit while traveling is the ability to access company files in countries where the internet is restricted.  Businesses can connect their VPN to the good router where all employees can use the service with only one account.

Is a VPN Necessary?

Unfortunately, even though human rights have grown in democratic countries in many ways, a lack of privacy seems to be diminishing.  Or at least we are just become more are of the need to deal with these privacy issues since it has been in the news a lot lately.  The fight is on in developed nations to push back against the invasion of privacy that Internet companies, various websites and even social media platforms use to influence users and increase profits.  Laws need to be strengthened to make protection universal.

What is discouraging however, is the increased restrictions in old regimes.  While social media networks have been accused lately of neglecting the privacy of it’s users, no one can deny what a great tool it has been for people in corrupt countries to band together and oppose their governments for freedom that many of us take for granted.  This was first seen with the Arab Spring.  Today, oppressive countries are clamping down even harder to restrict their citizens from the having the freedom of ideas and communication that the growing power the Internet brings.

Even with proper laws in place for privacy protection, the world will always need Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as long as there are hackers, predators and corrupt governments in power. Software companies and computer hardware manufactures will continue to improve security to make your personal data more secure.  Using an SSL proxy is another solution, but it is much more complicated to implement.  Subscribing to a VPN that hides your location is the best user friendly option to complete protection from everything we’ve mentioned in this article.

Is a VPN is right for you?  Explore Download Options for Your Device.

Important Safety Tips while Using Public WiFi

Safety Tips while using Public WiFi

You do not have very go far these days to access free public Wi-Fi. It is available in airports, libraries, cafes, hotels and government buildings. This is helpful but it is important for both adults and kids to make sure they do not trade safety and security for convenience. Just because the public building you are in is reputable, does not mean the Wi-Fi connection is secure.

When using your smart phone or computer in a public hotspot, you need to be careful to ensure the Wi-Fi network is encrypted. Otherwise, it opens you up to the risk of having your online accounts hacked. This could result in cyber thieves stealing your personal information.

Here are two basic safety tips to keep in mind to protect your information.  And then we will explore additional ways to stay safe while online in public.

1.  Check to see if the Public Wi-Fi Network is Secure.

As mentioned, we are not worried about the people who control the Wi-Fi network.  The risk is when others around us are in the business of hacking into the personal accounts using the network.  It could be the person sitting across from you in a coffee shop, or just outside on the street. 

If the public Wi-Fi network does not ask you to enter in a WPA or WPA2 password, the network is not secure. As you are probably thinking, this is most places.  The most common public Wi-Fi networks that require a password are internet providers with home you have an account.

2.  Make sure any website you are on has https at the beginning of URL.  

An example of this is https://youraccount.com or https://yourbank.com.  Secure websites will encrypt your information as you use the site.  Unsecured sites do not have the “s” in them, such as http:// (your information is not encrypted and kept safe if you don’t see the “s”)

Unsecured websites will also show a padlock that is unlocked.  Here is an example of what a secured website looks like.  Notice how with website URL with https also has a closed lock.

secure encrypted website

Clicking the lock will reveal more information about the secure site.  Now you can be sure you are on a secured website.

On a mobile website, it will look like this.

secure encrypted mobile website

If you are using a site that is not secure and locked, you open yourself up to hackers that can access your personal accounts and steal your data.  This could mean your name, address, phone number, address book and photos.

Hackers need see you on a public WiFi to be able to monitor our activity, so one sure fire way to to prevent this (regardless of being on an unsecured network) is to encrypt your data by using a trusted VPN. It can be turned on when you wish, such as when you are in public or traveling.

Here are ore ways to protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi.

  • It is good idea to have different passwords for each of your online accounts. This way if a cyber thief gets a hold of your email and password on one of your accounts, they will be unable to log into other accounts using the same password.
  • Educate yourself on the various ways cyber attacks happen even when you are in the safety of your own home network, such as Phishing, Vishing and SMishing. Hacking through public WiFi is less common than these other methods used.
  • Do not email important information about yourself for any reason.  This includes credit card details, bank account information and your personal government ID number. You should never do this even if a network is secure, not even from home.
  • When accessing accounts in public, whether it is your own computer or a PC in a library, always log out when finished.
  • Take advantage of 2 step verification methods being offered within your personal accounts.  This will add further security because 2 step verification means you cannot log in until you enter a secret code that is sent to you by text or via the Google Authenticator App.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it is best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Do not log into any personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it is always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the URL.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you do not see https something may be wrong.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it’s best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Don’t log into any other personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it’s always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the url.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you don’t see https something may be wrong.   

Is Omegle Safe for Your Kids? Complete Guide for Parents!

Is Omegle Safe for Your Kids

Omegle is basically a free platform used for chat or video messaging with strangers. It is one of the anonymous platforms that connects users with strangers. In the last few years, Omegle has been used as a dating application by adults. This might seem exciting, but obliviously consists many risk factors.

Although a popular platform created many years ago, Omegle is not widely known to most parents. Most of the content you can find on Omegle is not appropriate for kids, and very few safeguards are present for protecting minors. Many predators can be found on this platform, who might get into contact with your child.

After hearing about this platform and how it works, many parents prefer to block the application immediately, or ban their children from using it. However, many children still tend to use the application and can expose them to hazardous situations. For ultimate control and protection, parents can use parental control applications to stay aware of what your kids are doing all the time.

How does Omegle work?

Omegle provides a means for communicating with strangers. In most cases, users can talk only two-way. The platform is accessible from a desktop or mobile web browser or via an Android app. Users need to download the Android APK file to use the app as it does not appear in the Play Store. Instructions for iOS are available, but they only show how you can add the Omegle Online site to the home screen.

Omegle has two leading websites, which can be found by conducting an online search. The first contains instructions regarding using the platform, while the second is the online chat platform. On the bottom of Omegle, next to the options for chat, it states: By using Omegle, you agree to its terms. You must be at least 18 or 13 with parental permission. However, no mechanisms are found to prevent minors from accessing the site. To use Omegle, you need not to sign up for an account.

As a result of user reviews, the person who uses the app could be exposed to some creepy content such as traumatizing images and videos, violence, and explicit materiel, regardless of how the app is accessed. Omegle has many options to start a chat, though neither website lays out these options. Every time, you are connected with a random person. There is no information on how the match selections are made by the application.

Adult

A warning is placed in the area marked 18+, “Video is monitored. Keep it clean!” and has two options: Adult and Unmoderated Section. This label may be confusing, but the label 18+ probably tells that both sections are only for adults. By clicking on Adult, you will be prompted to go to a website which contains sexually explicit content.

The user confirms that they are 18 years old by clicking OK, but nothing prevents a small kid from doing this. A user hitting OK will automatically be redirected to the video chat area of the site having two webcam displays (their own and a stranger’s). Generally, the stranger may show live or recorded adult content (typically pornographic) when the cams autoplay.

Unmoderated Section

You will see a different pop-up stating that unmoderated posts have a greater chance of containing sexual content. If a user clicks through, they will be taken to some other dual-webcam area to choose either a Sex or Gay option, both of which leads to sharing sexually explicit contents.

Text

You can enter interest in the field below the section for adults. The following two options are Text and Video, which can be used by anyone over 13 (along with their parent’s permission if you are under 13). By selecting the text option, you will open a regular message interface to chat with a stranger.

You should keep in mind that users know absolutely nothing about one another, not even their names or images. Child predators are not legally prohibited from adopting false identities to have friendship with your children. While this applies to other chat applications as well, Omegle’s unique features of connecting users with random strangers, anonymously make it attractive to predators.

Both users can save and share links to the chat, which is supposed to be anonymous. In addition to IP addresses and ID cookies, and much other information which are not disclosed by Omegle will also be included in the saved transcript. However, an anonymous user’s anonymity might also be praised if any personal information is mentioned.

Spy (question) mode

Users can ask questions to two strangers while observing the discussion (although they cannot participate themselves).

Video

This option takes users to a screen with two webcams, same as the 18+ sections previously discussed. According to Omegle reviews, this section is continuously monitored, but it is also possible for children to come across adult content quickly. A predator can also use an innocent conversation to lure you in here. Even their webcam could be covered to hide their actual appearance.

College student chat

The chat option allows users to communicate with other students. Because users are required to enter an email address provided by their college before using this feature, it is perhaps one of the safer parts of Omegle. However, this tool is only helpful for older teens and not your younger ones. You can be sure that Omegle will not misuse or sell your email address. However, please note that Omegle might tell your chat partner your college and vice-versa.

Is Omegle safe? How dangerous is it?

Omegle is linked to several significant concerns, including the following:

  • Exposure to creepy material
  • Predator grooming
  • Information disclosure
  • Access to private information, including messages and videos.

Exposure to creepy material

Reviewers say that video chat features, such as appearing nude or performing sexual acts on-screen, have attracted the most negative reviews. This unavoidable exposure to creepy content is a concern shared by both parents and children. Children today are expected to be exposed to pornography by a young age, on average 11, in the age of modern digital technology. Although unintentionally witnessing a stranger perform sexual acts live is disturbing to some young minds, it’s not for everyone.

Every parent and child should be aware of what the application is before using any platform. Omegle is known for having explicit content that cannot be avoided, so no matter what users are looking for, they might be exposed. There have even been instances where reviewers say they were exposed to child pornography, violence, and even bestiality.

Both law enforcement and reviewers question Omegle’s video tracking effectiveness, though some video clips are monitored. The site says: “Understand that human behavior is fundamentally unpredictable and may not follow appropriate standards on Omegle.” In another notice, Omegle suggests that users be extra cautious about using the site.

Furthermore, there are no controls to ensure that any adult from 13 to 18 is using the app with parents’ permission, even though there is a rule prohibiting them from using it without parental consent. Some apps for teens allow you to set up an account by entering your birth date. Other apps require parental approval before creating an account. These apps provide parental control like the power to monitor the contacts.

Predator grooming

Sadly, many predators are lurking online who want to exploit kids. The police have warned parents in many ways about predators hanging out on Omegle, which has been a hot spot for predators. Minors can be exploited in many ways by predators using Omegle. Some predators “groom” kids by establishing friendships, possibly presenting themselves as someone else, such as another child of the same age, and then attempting to exploit the child.

Children can be frightened of complying with predator demands by observing their Omegle behavior. Upon gaining a kid’s trust, they may tell them to take their friendship to another platform, requesting the exchange of creepy messages, images, or videos, or requesting a face-to-face meeting. A standard method of obtaining child pornography is through sextortion, which involves sexually explicit material as part of the extortion. Although the victim may not have provided any of such material, this strategy may still be employed.

Information disclosure

Exposing personal information is one area in which kids often lack judgment. Even though Omegle appears anonymous, children are surprisingly willing to divulge details about themselves, such as names, ages, birth dates, the place where they live and school they attend, and other personal details. The information contained in these sites can be hazardous if it ends up in the hands of hackers or child predators.

Users of Omegle text chat can remain anonymous until they give out any personal information. According to its website, you can chat anonymously unless you choose to tell other users who you are, and also you can end a chat whenever you wish. It is also important to note that either of the users can choose to retain the entire chat in some shareable link format.

Omegle’s logs are saved indefinitely under a random ID created by the service assigned once we receive the chat text from the user’s computer. It is then turned into an image, decorated with a beautiful arboreal backdrop, and saved. Other information will be saved along with the chat log, such as IP addresses, cookies, and other information. In other words, without a VPN, a user’s real IP addresses might get exposed via text chat.

Users can easily capture screenshots or make recordings of the video when using the video chat feature. More importantly, the match is made between the two computers, so each of the computers must share its IP address with the other. The Omegle interface doesn’t display users’ IP addresses, but an individual with some technical skills should be able to figure it out. You may estimate a user’s location roughly and perhaps even their identity using this type of information. There have been reports of users receiving threats after their chat partners discovered their IP address and exact location.

Access to private information, including messages and videos

Omegle servers are reportedly vulnerable to hackers gaining access to chat records. Hackers may use any information grouped with a person’s name, social media handles, or exact address for indecent purposes, such as fraud, phishing attacks, online stalking, and even offline stalking. The victim could be harassed or extorted using creepy messages, images, or videos.

The following information is collected and stored by Omegle according to its privacy policy:

  • Data regarding each chat and participants’ IP addresses, cookies, and timestamps.
  • All the full-text chat messages that users have saved.
  • For moderation purposes, images are captured from Omegle video chat sessions.

What you can do to protect your children on Omegle

Not any method of using Omegle that is truly safe for children. Even though some mature kids can decide to skip the content they don’t want to go through, they cannot avoid the possibility that they will see some traumatic content. Users who skip too quickly have been banned, but it is still possible to skip content as the app implements bot checks. Consequently, your child has a more challenging time avoiding media that could cause them to feel uncomfortable.

Children are therefore better off avoiding the platform entirely to remain safe. Here are a few things you can follow if your child is curious:

  • Encourage them to use another app
  • First, try to access the app on your own
  • Use the app together with your child and discuss it
  • Make sure you’re familiar with data security
  • Use the filtering options
  • Use a parental control app to block Omegle
  • Make use of a VPN.

Encourage them to use another app

Omegle has several main draws, including its anonymous nature and capability to talk with random strangers. The issues described above will also apply to other apps that are used to talk to strangers. Even though some applications may be good at monitoring content, it is still not good for kids to connect anonymously with strangers.

Your teens would do better if you directed them to reputable social media groups and online forums where they could connect with like-minded people more safely. This isn’t to say that they are completely safe, and they indeed have their own set of problems, but eliminating the anonymity does help mitigate those risks.

First, try to access the app on your own

Omegle also has a lot of disturbing content that you may not wish to be exposed to. You might find it helpful to see firsthand what you’re dealing with if you’re permitting your child to use it (or if you already know they’re doing so). Using the app, you don’t necessarily have to communicate with strangers, but you can initiate conversations to find out who they are.

Use the app together with your child and discuss it

It is advisable to use this app with your child if you have no problem with the use of this app. This way, even if they haven’t gotten to the actual conversations, you have guided them toward these. When they see anything that makes them feel terrible, you can speak with them about what they saw. Do they already use the app? Are you not having the control over their use of Omegle? Maintaining an open conversation about what they are discussing or viewing is the best thing you can do.

There is a good chance that your child wants to know much about the platform and wants to take a look. They could be exposed to indecent content even if they only spend a few minutes using the app. Some children may ignore it or feel uncomfortable and regret viewing or reading certain content, depending on their age. No matter what their reaction is, you should provide a place for them to talk about anything bothering them.

Make sure you’re familiar with data security

It is vital to reinforce the need to keep personal data private, even though you’ve probably discussed this with your child hundreds of times. Do not let your child reveal personal details such as their names, ages, or where they live or attend school. They should know that even if the chats are purported to be anonymous, there are still ways a stranger can find out what they are doing.

Also, it is worth repeating discussions about the permanence of online data. If you use a screen recorder or screenshot app, you can make anything that happens in a video or web chat permanent.

Use the filtering options

The site offers the option of filtering matches based on interests. This may help eliminate some inappropriate content; however, it is not reliable. If “sex” is listed as a preference and the user enters a video chat, they are almost guaranteed to see strangers perform sexual acts live or attempting to do so by their partner.

Adding sports or gaming interests to your profile may increase your chances of chatting with a genuine individual. As a result, this can also be even more threatening for kids, as predators might use innocently sounded interests to entice youngsters.

Use a parental control app to block Omegle

Despite its terms of use, Omegle refers parents to third-party tools they can use to restrict their children’s reach to Omegle. You can limit minors’ access to harmful material by taking advantage of parental control protections available on the market.  For more information about these parental controls, see the sites offering information about this type of protection.

There are many excellent parental control apps available for mobile devices today. In this case, you can use parental control apps like MobileSpy, Bark, or Net Nanny. These are one of the most trusted applications so far. Although these controls may be effective for younger children, teens can often circumvent them, so having talks about the app still is a crucial step.

Make use of a VPN

It is highly recommended that your teen use a VPN if they are using Omegle. Their actual IP address will be replaced with the IP address of the VPN provider from the location selected by the user. By doing so, their partner won’t be able to uncover their actual IP address from their chat activity since it will not be their actual IP address. Choose a VPN which offers leak protection to make sure the connection stays secure and your data does not escape.

Conclusion

One-to-one conversations on a stranger platform are risky. Children should be taught that the more information they share, the greater chance of predators misusing it. Omegle and other online games pose a threat to the online security of your child. Cybercriminals can target your kids with just one wrong click on these apps. You should block Omegle immediately to protect your child. Furthermore, you must keep an eye on your kids’ online activities and protect them with parental control applications.

FAQs

What is the Omegle App?

The free chat website Omegle lets users connect with strangers without requiring registration. You can chat anonymously with random users.

Is Omegle safe?

No, there is no safety in it at all. Anyone can easily record your anonymous chats. A person on the opposite end of the webcam may expose the user. Omegle requires no registration, making it a potentially risky platform.

Who uses Omegle?

It is an online chat application that allows users to interact anonymously with strangers. You can use it with the consent of your parents if you are 13 years old. This platform is also used for nefarious activities by hackers, predators, and adults.

Is Omegle monitored?

From 2013, Omegle supervised every video chat session to avoid online misconduct. Children under 18 can still be exposed to harmful adult content since monitoring is only partially active.

Can I use Omegle on my phone?

Yes, Omegle can be accessed via mobile devices, but only text-based chatting is available. Using the website or other Omegle alternatives will let you use video chatting features.

Learn how you can activate free parental controls on various devices.

How Browsing Fingerprinting is Used to Track You

How Browsing Fingerprinting Tracks You

The internet has enabled a lot of things in today’s modern world. In the early 2000s, the internet changed how businesses advertise their products and services. Many businesses dumped the traditional offline techniques and adopted online advertising through the internet.

Later, they realized that they could not advertise to everybody out there. The need to advertise to relevant audiences gave rise to behavioral tracking. By that we mean, businesses track your online movements and decide whether you’d be interested in what they do before sending ads your way.

This method relies on web cookies and not only tracks previously visited sites but the location, etc. But then, internet users in the mid-2000s discovered ways they’d stop this snooping. They’d disable cookies and use ad blockers, making it daunting for businesses.

But in a bid to keep up behavioral tracking, advertisers are now using new and much more sophisticated techniques. The latest trick that has made tracking possible is device or browsing fingerprinting.  This article will look more into what it is and how it can help companies and advertisers track you.

What is Browsing Fingerprinting?

Device or browsing fingerprinting is a technique initially designed to track internet users for security purposes. It involves browsers gathering individual information of internet users and availing it where needed. This information includes location, device type, screen resolution, language, etc.

Trackers do not need to collect your information at a go. It can take a few browsing attempts to match details and create a unique and accurate fingerprint for every user. Consequently, they can track your online activity and movements without a problem.

This technique has evolved a lot from the time it first got introduced. Recent developments have made cross-browser fingerprinting possible, consequently making tracking more effective. According to experts, this dynamic technique is capable of identifying internet users 99% of the time.

On the positive side, browsing fingerprinting has played an important role in shaping the digital environment. It has enabled analytics and tracking for website owners. You can now know the number of visitors visiting your site and how many visitors return to it.

Online safety that wasn’t a guarantee before fingerprinting is now almost one. For instance, it has played a great role in identifying and preventing credit card and bank fraud. E-commerce fraudsters also now have a headache to try and defeat the wall fingerprinting has built.

How they fingerprint you

Although trackers cannot match fingerprints with real identities, there’s so much they can do you’re your information. Businesses are hiring third-party companies to collect the information we mentioned earlier. Now, their work is to discreetly monitor your digital movements and keep bits of data about you.

The data brokers hired to collect your information create a general profile of you. They look at your interests, from the sites you visit, consider the language you use, your location, and age range to create a pseudo profile for you, and that most of the time turns out to be an accurate representation of you.

Fingerprinting, as mentioned earlier, got developed to foster online security. Website owners create digital fingerprints to prevent identity theft, credit card fraud, software piracy, etc. Thus, many businesses and websites that benefit from it will tell you that it isn’t all that bad.

However, online privacy has been a concern for years, and browsing fingerprinting interferes with it. Companies exploit the information received from data brokers, and that is a consistent privacy violation. Thus, many internet users would rather protect themselves using security tools than have someone collect such critical data without consent.

Browsing Fingerprinting – How to Fight Back

Internet users get faced with a dilemma whenever the browser fingerprinting topic comes up. Of course, people want to find ways to stop it like they do with traditional behavioral tracking. However, the downside is that browsing fingerprinting is naturally difficult to circumvent.

A more positive thing that has come about is that you can, to some extent, prevent browser fingerprinting. Some privacy-first browsers like Tor make every device look the same. That makes it difficult for bots to collect the information required to create a digital fingerprint.

Safari, a browser that belongs to Apple, is another difficult one to fingerprint. Apple has a smaller product line than many mobile devices and PC manufacturers, making most of its devices look similar. Consequently, you become immune to fingerprinting if you’re using an iPhone or Mac.

Firefox is another potential option for internet users looking to avoid fingerprinting. This browser has invested in aggressive default privacy protection features. Besides, there is a word that it is also advancing its protection features to block fingerprinting in the future completely.

You can also use an SSL proxy to fight back browsing fingerprinting. The best thing about using this proxy is that it enhances your online security and privacy at the same time. Besides, they help you remove ads that you do not like and aid in ad verification to reduce online fraud.

Although fighting back on new technology isn’t easy, it is best to give it a try. Technology itself has made it possible to fight back, thanks to the software developments and protection features being added to browsers.

Conclusion

The digital landscape is increasingly becoming complex every day. Consumers are becoming careful about what they have to do to browse securely and privately. Conversely, marketers and advertisers are hungry for customer information as they look to up their marketing game and reach business goals.

New tracking techniques like browsing fingerprinting are becoming popular since traditional reliance on cookies is no longer reliable. However, internet users are also becoming aware of new ways to curb fingerprinting. The use of protective browsers, proxies, and developing new privacy rules seems to work.

With browsing fingerprinting constantly changing with new advancements like cross-browser fingerprinting, you have to be smart enough to prevent it. One of the best things you can do is investing in reliable software, using protected browsers, or purchasing well-protected devices.