It is no surprise that recently, as the internet is expanding, our security is becoming weaker. Or at least our awareness of this issue is at an all-time low. With the advancement of technology and the expansion of the internet, we were given many new opportunities with jobs, information access, communication, etc. As we use the internet on the daily basis, we think little about how protected we are while online. 

In this article, we will shine a light on how advertisers track your web activity and how can we stop that.  

What Is Ad Tracking?

Advertisement tracking or ad tracking refers to advertisers tracking the user’s online activity and browsing history in order to bring a certain product closer to the user. By tracking your online activity, companies can target the user, based on his recent web activity, with ads about specific products. 

Ad Tracking
Ad tracking is a method used to bring certain products closer to the user

For instance, if the user was searching for a new lamp on the internet, there is a high probability that the next time the user logs in to one of its social media, there will be advertisement about the same product or similar.

Inherently, this ad tracking method does not have to be a bad thing. Looking at it from a different perspective, maybe the user will find it more convenient to have advertisements for products that he or she is interested in. However, on the other hand, other users might find this method of advertisers tracking your web activity as a form of invasion of privacy. Seeing the same ad on different websites can come off a bit creepy to some.

How Do Advertisers Track Your Web Activity?

Most advertisers use cookies to track the activity. A cookie is a code embedded into the website. The cookie “drops” itself into the user’s browser when the user visits a certain website. They usually store important information, like log-in details and shopping cart inventory but they can also be used by advertisers to track your web activity. These kinds of cookies collect data that the advertiser can later use to push certain products similar to ones the user was looking at.

Stop Ad Tracking
Even-though the advertiser tracking is not harmless, it can be quite weird to know that someone is tracking every move you make while online

However, cookies are not as bad as they seem. Their only purpose is to find out what products the user is interested in and are used solely for the purpose of collecting information for advertisement. On the other hand, there are some dangerous cookies, and those are third-party cookies. Third-party cookies are placed in the website by a third-party.

This usually means that these cookies are put on the website by their monetization partner, as opposed to them being placed by the website itself (first-party cookie). This means that the website partner that placed the cookies will be able to track the activity of the user across different websites. 

What Do Advertisers Do with the Collected Information?

It is hard to say with certainty what these advertisers and websites do with the data collected. When using first-party cookies (the website cookies) information is stored on the website, this means that the website will remember the user’s log-in name and password so the user can log-in more easily the next time they visit the website.

However, oftentimes will the advertising network (third-party cookie) store the data of the user on a third-party server. This method of data collection is the most beneficial to the advertisers as they get a better insight into the user’s online activity and web history.

What Can We Do to Prevent Advertisers From Tracking Your Web Activity?

Now, as we learned about the methods on how the advertisers track your web activity we must present a way to prevent this from happening. Although there are many ways for one to prevent these types of tracking, there is one method that is far more safe and secure than the rest of them.

We are, of course, talking about VPN. This software has the sole purpose of protecting the user and providing an additional layer of safety and protection for the user while online.

What is VPN?

VPN or Virtual Private Network is an essential internet tool that provides the user with the utmost safety and online security. Some of the main features of the VPN are:

  • Online Anonymity – VPN allows users to safely browse the internet without worrying about being tracked or followed. By using multiple servers to choose from, VPN allows the user to safely select the desired server and hide the real IP address and online activity
  • Protection from Cyber-Attacks – With hackers and scammers on the internet, VPN allows the user to successfully hide their activity and become invisible for any potential threats that lurk online.
  • Access to Global Content – One of the perks of VPN is that it allows users to connect to different servers around the world, allowing them to bypass and unlock geo-restricted content with ease.

The best part about this software is that you do not need to be an expert to be protected. It is fairly simple to use and set up.

If the intention of the user is to prevent advertisers from tracking your web activity, VPN will come in quite handy. With high encryption protocols and the ability to hide the real IP address of the user VPN provides an extra layer of security while the user is online. It creates a single-shared network between the desired server and the user’s device. 

Besides from advertisers, when the user is connected to the public internet, their internet activity can be tracked by the ISP (Internet Service Provider), the government and hackers or other cybercriminals. 

With strict no log-in policies and high encryption protocols, the VPN software allows users to have a pleasant and safe experience while online.

It can come in different shapes, as downloadable software which requires a subscription fee and as a free VPN extension for the browser. Opting for the subscription version of the software is the safest way to go as it provides a large variety of services for a certain price. Free VPN software is suitable for a single purpose as it does not provide enough protection or safety.

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