Do you ever watch video tutorials or shop around online for something then go to
a search engine site, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, and see advertisements for
items similar to those you were researching? While these advertisements can
help consumers narrow in on great deals and it’s convenient to come back to
your computer a day or more later and still have your previous search history
available, it can also be concerning that sites are able to track and display
content specific to you. So, how do websites know so much about you, and what
are some ways that you can mask your identity?
Cookies - Not Grandma’s Recipe.
When you go to a
website, the site can place a private text file, called a Cookie, on your
computer. This is done so that if you surf away from that site then return, the
original site will remember your login, searches, etc. Cookies are also used by
advertisers to track what you are searching for and what ads you are clicking
on so they are able to display content that is most appetizing to you. You can
reduce/prevent Cookies from being placed on your computer though… and here’s
In your browser’s settings, you can “disable cookies” from websites and/or block
all third-party cookies (aka the cookies that advertisers use to market to
you.) Of note, some websites do require cookies in order for the content to
In your browser’s settings, you can direct the browser to wipe all of your
online history each time you close the browser’s window. This will remove
search history, login information, cookies, etc., so that each new window is a
Search under Disguise.
To prevent your search
history from being stored on your computer and shared with marketers (or
family/friends that you share a computer with,) use search engines such as
DuckDuckGo or tools like the
Incognito Mode of Google Chrome, to enjoy private browsing.
Go Completely Anonymous with TOR.
If you want all
of the perks of complete search privacy without the worry that advertisers are
able to track your activities or the extra work of clearing any information
stored from websites, you can download software called
TOR. Short for “The Onion Router,” the TOR Browser is an intricate
network used to disguise your activities and Internet Protocol (IP) address,
which is assigned specific to your router by your Internet provider and can
expose your geographic location.